What are factors that make nationalism a force in world politics in relation to countries such as Egypt, Syria, Tunisia and Libya?

Expert Answers
Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Two salient factors in the issue of nationalism in world politics are the union of religious issues with issues of politics and the shifting global economic profile resulting from globalization. nationalism is ill-defined by scholars. The best current definition is that of Graham Evans and Jeffrey Newnham, who emphasize that nationalism is a psychological characteristic that can have good or ill effects:

This term is used in two related senses. In the first usage, nationalism seeks to identify a behavioral entity - the nation - and thereafter to pursue certain political and cultural goals on behalf of it. In the second usage, nationalism is a sentiment of loyalty toward the nation which is shared by people. (Evans and Newnham qtd. in Charles Hauss)

Egypt, Syria, Tunisia and Libya are four countries that illustrate the effect on world politics of the union of religious issues with political issues. While there are internal struggles between religious faction, with each faction aspiring to embody the definitive concept of nationalism, there are external conflicts that are triggered by the demands of religion on the arena of world crises. For instance, as Eygpt's opposition faction assaults Islamist President Morsi's faction, Obama has withdrawn all nonessential U.S. personnel and U.S. funded military has warned it might take over is violence becomes widespread. Obama warned that instability in Egypt has international effects "more broadly."

Globalization, which in theory attempts to open markets and multinational opportunities (at an unspoken environmental and cultural cost), has had a reverse effect on nationalism: globalization has fostered a resurgence of nationalistic psychological feeling that emphasizes an "us-them" perspective on world politics. This is especially evident in African nations where IMF and NGO loans for medical, educational and infrastructure advancement have proven to have a hidden impact of environmental damage.

Recently and dramatically in the Middle East and, ever more so, in Africa, nationalism’s complex interrelationship with religion has added yet another volatile dimension to the challenge.  Perhaps most significant—and perplexing—has been the interplay between nationalism and the integrative, technologically driven-imperatives of a globalizing world,... (Geneva Center for Security Policy)

maahzinhaah | Student

Nationalism is a strong force in politics as it serves as a reason to go to war against another country, for example. To do so, you have to convince the people that killing other human beings is, somehow, justified. Some tools might be very powerful, such as the rationalization in this example, by judging the Egyptians as a way to putting them in an inferior level than the Lybians, justifying that is right for us to go to war, for example. Another example might be to blame Egypt for the war crimes. No one wants to have the blame of a war in their back, so by lowering the Egyptians you can justify the actions taken as a reaction to their behavior, for example, as a form of scapegoats. It is also a way of prejudice, by prejudging that all Egyptians are responsable for the reason to go to war. 

This can trigger provincialism, or a greater feeling for our own country, and a bigger loyalty for the people, to go against other nation. It can also trigger the heard instinct, as everyone thinks the Egyptians are that bad, than you might also think that as well. It is a defined concept in International Relations that, in times of war, people tend to me more patriotic and the president has its higher rates of people support during that period, such as in the time of 9/11. Therefore, in addition to patriotism and loyalty to the country, we have a prejudice and scapegoat against other countries, which makes are “justified” in some sense. Also, it can trigger the way of thinking of partisan mind-sets, where everything other than our own culture is considered wrong.