Tom Engelhardt points out that only Iraqi’s are “nationalists.” Americans on the other hand, are “patriots.”
Here, for instance, is a passage, you’ll rarely see in the American press. In a piece for the Independent, the British journalist Patrick Cockburn writes, “The rebels are nationalist and religious. The US always appears to underestimate the strength of Iraqi nationalism.” As a term, nationalism has long been oddly wielded in the United States. Americans are almost never described (here) as nationalistic. We are “patriotic,” and patriotism, it turns out, is an almost purely American trait. On the other hand, over recent decades, other peoples, particularly in the non-western world were seldom patriotic, they were nationalistic; and those among them who fought for sovereignty and power never patriots, but at best nationalists. Nationalism in our American world has long had a distinctly pejorative quality. It brings to mind not the flag, mom, and apple pie (nor the flag, mom, and shish kebob), but a force over the edge, slightly unhinged, fanatical, dangerous; something, at best, to be managed. That’s the way it’s been here for a long time.
Except, as Tom explains, lately the Iraqis aren’t even “nationalists”, but “only ‘former Baathists,’ ‘bitter-enders,’ ‘foreign fighters.’ … religious fanatics, al-Qaeda supporters, terrorists” etc. But not “nationalists”, and definitely not “patriots.”