Sunday, August 2, 2009

Jacksonian America and Present Day Iraq

There are some interesting similarities between the 1820s-1830s American political scene and today's situations in Iraq. Here are a few:

1. President Jackson believed that all Indian actions were cause by English or Spanish guidance in an attempt to destabilize the American Government. Today, the Iraqi and American Governments both often blame insurgent activities on regional influences.

2. South Carolina wanted to nullify laws and possible secede from the Union, with Calhoun and Hayne arguing for the states' rights over Federal Government laws. Lingston, Jackson, Webster, and Van Buren argued for the consolidation of power in the central government and the presidency. Jackson was often portrayed in the media as being a King and a deposit.

South Carolina's arguement for nullification parallels in some ways the current Kurdistan Regional Government in its attempts to act independently of Baghdad's rulings, especially on issues such as oil and security. Talabani, the President of Iraq, is Kurdish, just as Calhoun was the Vice President from South Carolina before resigning to be able to openly oppose Jackson. Prime Minister Maliki, paralleling Jackson, is often accused (whether fairly or unfairly) in the media of centralizing too much power, and potentially turning into another Iraqi strongman.

3. Political followings in Jackson's era was in some ways similar to the sectarian strife that afflicts Iraq. Though it was not based on race, ethnicity, or religion, the partisanship of 1820s America often come close to violence in terms of people's loyalty to their state, region, or national party. Civil war was a real threat, though it was abated for several more years. Today many politicians, media personnel, and others believe that Iraq may be nearing Civil War if certain issues go unresolved, and are claiming that certain people may be simply waiting for Americans to leave before initiating violence. Whether these claims are inflated or not is not certain, though it does lend to the same sense of strife that seems to have occurred in Jackson's time.

(Sources: "American Lion" by Jon Meacham, various news reports)