Nationalism is a form of geographical racism that makes some lives matter more than others, and explicitly justifies that logic without apology. While today, not even lying corrupt politicians will outright say that racism is acceptable, nationalism is promoted and accepted in the full light of day - American [or British etc] lives matter most. The deaths of 1 million Iraqis is simply unfortunate collateral damage - regrettable but necessary to protect "American interests." With nationalism, the supremacy of American lives is taken for granted. No politician is hounded or embarrassed by such a statement. To say that the lives of all people matter as much as American lives would be political suicide. To say that Palestinian lives matter as much as Israeli lives would invite a similar fate. Such ideology is further reinforced by religion. God bless America. God bless our strategic allies. Outsiders be damned.
During the Clinton administration, a study by the United Nations Children's Fund, Unicef, determined that US sanctions on Iraq resulted in the deaths of over 500,000 Iraqi children under the age of 5. When former US ambassador to the United Nations Madeleine Albright was asked if the price was worth it, she said in an interview, "We think the price is worth it."
Only nationalism, which upholds the supremacy of some lives over others, can account for such blatant and unapologetic heartlessness. It is a form of acceptable prejudice held by those in power. It is also an acceptable prejudice for all those who tacitly support it by their inaction and lack of moral outrage when a hospital is bombed in some other country by one's own. Nationalism creates blind spots like that - sometimes that blind spot may be held by the majority of people. Certainly, it affects the corporate journalists of a country - always so quick to condemn the criminal actions of other governments but who fall silent, blind and deaf when their own government is responsible.
There are many of course who decry the moral outrage of mass murder justified by nationalism. But too great a number tacitly accept the logic of nationalism. Wars of terror are branded as "the war on terror."
Growing up in a society that reinforces who matters and who doesn't - who deserves our empathy and who doesn't in myriad ways, reinforcing the 'othering' of human beings - it is difficult to see things differently when these beliefs have always been taken for granted.
Like white supremacy and patriarchy, nationalism is a social disease that kills off the innate and original capacity for empathy in the minds of everyone it infects.