Iraq’s New Flag

Steven Taylor isn’t very impressed with the announcement that Iraq’s parliament has finally come to an interim agreement on some minor changes in the national flag.

New Iraqi Flag The three stars that represented Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party will be removed, to address the concerns of Iraqi Kurds. They have refused to fly the flag since the fall of Saddam Hussein, saying it is too closely associated with a regime that repressed and killed their people. The flag was also changed in 2004, when a line of script, allegedly in Saddam Hussein’s own handwriting, was changed to Kufic script.

But the latest change – passed by 110 votes to 50 – is only temporary, as a design for a new flag will be sought after one year.

Agreement over the flag is another sign that the Iraqi parliament is moving forward on difficult issues, says the BBC’s Jonny Dymond in Baghdad.

[…]

“The new flag has no signs of Saddam’s regime and is a sign that change has been achieved in the country,” said Humam Hamoudi, a prominent Shia politician and member of the powerful Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council party.

He figures, not unreasonably, that this is a rather meager — indeed, “laughable” — achievement after five years of war and months of Surge. Then again, designing a national flag that three warring factions can unite behind is no easy task; our own Coalition Provisional Authority certainly failed.

George Carlin’s quip that “symbols are for the symbol-minded” is clever but the attachment people have to them is powerful. Indeed, in a society with much less internal strife than Iraq, we’re hardly immune from such squabbles. We’re still fighting about the Confederate battle flag 143 years after the Civil War and 44 years after the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. For that matter, we’ve still got people trying to amend the Constitution to make burning the American flag illegal, despite it being an incredibly rare occurrence.

FILED UNDER: General, , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. I agree that symbols are very important–but relative to the other problems facing the parliament, it is difficult to get too excited about an interim flag (which still lost about 1/3 of the vote in the chamber).

  2. James Joyner says:

    There are plenty of problems to choose from, that’s for sure. The question is whether agreement on symbols is a sign of something else or merely a consensus on design.

  3. Tlaloc says:

    I agree that symbols are very important–but relative to the other problems facing the parliament, it is difficult to get too excited about an interim flag (which still lost about 1/3 of the vote in the chamber).

    Agreed and also relative to the time investment. Had this happened two years ago, it would have been a sign of something getting done. At this point I think it’s best described as a “Thompson.”

    (Think it will catch on?)

  4. Michael says:

    Then again, designing a national flag that three warring factions can unite behind is no easy task; our own Coalition Provisional Authority certainly failed.

    Yes, because our own CPA was the very definition of competent.

  5. Michael says:

    At this point I think it’s best described as a “Thompson.”

    (Think it will catch on?)

    It will with me, I’m going to use that everywhere I can, just like calling something a “Ron Paul” means it shouldn’t count.

  6. anjin-san says:

    Clearly, this is another great victory for Bush. Only those who hate freedom and hate America will disagree…

  7. yetanotherjohn says:

    Sheesh. There’s just no pleasing the left. Last year they were complaining that the surge wouldn’t do anything to reduce the violence in Iraq. Now they are complaining that the surge isn’t being matched by enough political action, but when there is at least some political action they complain. Next year they will probably be complaining that Iraq isn’t shipping us as much oil as Saudi Arabia.

  8. anjin-san says:

    Well John you are probably right, when we think of the thousands of American service men and women who have died, even more who have been maimed, 100k dead Iraqi’s who did not do a damn thing to us, billions upon billions of dollars badly needed at home poured down a rat hole, all because Bush is an idiot… well, we are not pleased at all.

    But hey we got the WMD’s in the nick of time!

  9. Tlaloc says:

    Sheesh. There’s just no pleasing the left. Last year they were complaining that the surge wouldn’t do anything to reduce the violence in Iraq. Now they are complaining that the surge isn’t being matched by enough political action, but when there is at least some political action they complain.

    You haven’t listened very well apparently- the argument has been and remains thus:

    “The surge is inadequate to provide the security needed for the length needed to allow Iraq to make political headway of consequence.”

    All of which is true. It has reduced violence, but not enough. The surge ends in the next two months and in that time the political headway has been either negative (arming of the sunni militias) or tivial (a new flag!).

    So once again the progressives turned out to be right about Iraq while your side was completely wrong. Now why won’t you just listen to us for once?

    Do you enjoy being wrong?