"A well-rooted country" ... History: Iraq became a battlefield and an Iraqi mass graveyard for the conservative xenophobes of the UK and the USA.


Active member
Well-rooted by the UK.

The UK perverted Iraq in 1923 and turned it into a despotic state subject to coups and government overthrow.

The UK imposed the rule of despot King Feisal in Iraq and is then responsible for the periodic instability in Iraq.

The US and the UK never contributed to democracy in the Middle East and supported control by undemocratic despots and Islam.


... on Aug. 23, 1921, the British installed Feisal as king of Mesopotamia, changing the official name of the country at that time to Iraq, an Arabic word which, Fromkin says, means “well-rooted country.”

Just how well-rooted was this country? Winston Churchill, who succeeded Lloyd George as British architect of the Arab future, seriously considered returning not just Iraq but all of Britain’s Arab conquests to the Turks: Creating an Arab version of British India called for more investment, military and civilian, than Britain could afford.

Churchill’s astounding giveback never came about. Moreover, Feisal’s kingdom lasted longer than perhaps even Churchill might have hoped: Feisal’s grandson, Feisal II, was not overthrown until 1958. And yet, have Iraq’s post-1958 military strongmen been more legitimate than its British-imposed monarchs? It is claimed that long before the current crisis, Saddam Hussein was afraid to leave his country for fear of overthrow. The problem may be in the land as much as in the man.

And the legitimacy problem is in any event not Saddam’s alone. The al-Sabbah ruling family of Kuwait owes its long reign (and its borders) in good measure to the British, who established a protectorate there in 1897 and left only in 1961. The Saudis of Arabia and the Hashemites of Jordan also are former British clients who have become American clients. A colonial history might not seem in itself to raise doubts about legitimacy, but in this regard the Middle East may be different.

Though the world may now know what the British imperialists forgot--namely, that for Muslims religion and politics are inseparable--a key corollary is less generally recognized: Unless a Muslim nation’s leader can claim full Islamic legitimacy, the very nation he would rule may be seen as politically illegitimate.

Fromkin puts it this way: “In the Middle East there is no sense of legitimacy-- no agreement on the rules of the game--and no belief universally shared in the region, that within whatever boundaries, the entities that call themselves countries or the men who claim to be rulers are entitled to recognition as such. In that sense, successors to the Ottoman sultans have not yet been permanently installed, even though between 1919 and 1922 installing them was what the Allies believed themselves to be doing.”

In 1922 what legitimated the new countries and their leaders in Western eyes was international law, but the Arabs--upon whom these countries and these leaders were imposed--had at the time little reason to regard international law as their law. Do they yet?

Let us suppose for the sake of argument that the current American intervention brings about an Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait, the overthrow of Saddam Hussein and the installation of a regime more to our liking in Baghdad. The lesson of Fromkin’s book is that at that point our money and blood will not have purchased legitimacy or stability for the present system of Arab nation-states, but only a little more time before the next occasion arises for Arab rejection and Western rescue of that system.

The suggestion in Moynihan’s book (whether or not he himself would quite see it this way) is that if there is any authentic position for the United States to take in the Middle East, it can only be the Wilsonian position: international law deepened and strengthened by the full integration--at whatever initial cost--of the principle of self-determination. Only then will the Arabs--all the Arabs, not just the royal families--believe that international law secures their safety as well as ours. Only then will they find a middle course between the brutality of future Saddam Husseins and the futility of future George Bushes.