Friday, April 25, 2008

Iraqi Flag Appreciation Day

What so proudly we fail

I hope you're ready. April 26, 2008, is the fourth anniversary of one of the great accomplishments of our “liberation” of Iraq: the unveiling of a new Iraqi national flag. At that point in time the occupation of Iraq was moving into its second year and the Iraqi Governing Council had few accomplishments to its credit. Paul Bremer, administrator of the Coalition Provisional Authority, had been responsible for all the significant milestones of the first year. These included disbanding the Iraqi army, thus making those trained soldiers available for service in insurgent groups, and the ouster of Baath Party members from civil service positions, thus reducing to resentful penury all the people capable of maintaining government operations. These were key steps in reducing Iraq to ungovernable chaos and Bremer gets the lion's share of credit.

No wonder the Iraqi Governing Council was jealous and eager to show that it could make significant contributions of its own. The IGC accordingly sponsored a design competition for a new Iraqi flag and unveiled the winning design in April 2004. Eschewing the traditionally Arabian color combination of red, black, and green (derived from the original flag of the Arab Revolt of 1916), the IGC's proposed new flag featured a soothing combination of blue and white (and a subdued yellow accent that was supposed to represent the Kurdish minority). It was quickly criticized for using the same color scheme as the Israeli flag. This was not likely to increase the new flag's acceptability to Iraqi citizens.

The IGC quickly offered a new image of the proposed flag; the blue regions were darker in the new image and IGC explained that the new image provided “a rectification of printing errors” in the original image. Whether this was true or merely an excuse, the shift from baby blue to dark blue did not assuage the concerns of the Iraqi populace. The bonnie blue flag slowly faded away without further comment. It vanished down the memory hole and has not been seen since.

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