Two weeks before the elections, a gathering of neo-fascist and white-supremacist groups held a protest in Berlin. About 500 black-clad neo-Nazis, pierced and tattooed punks, flag-waving middle-aged white men and older couples marched past Parliament. The event’s theme was “Merkel Must Go,” but the anti-immigrant subtext was clear. Speakers urged the crowd in English to “make Germany great again” by sending immigrants “back to where they came from.” One man held a placard with a photo of a blond toddler surrounded by black children, captioned Germany in 2030. He refused to be interviewed or photographed, calling TIME’s journalists “Lügenpresse,” a Nazi-era epithet used to denounce the media.
Because American national identity tends to emphasize the civic dimension (based on supposedly universal principles such as individual liberty) and tends to downplay the historic and cultural elements (though they clearly exist ) . leaders routinely underestimate the power of local affinities and the strength of cultural, tribal, or territorial loyalties. During the Cold War, we persistently exaggerated the strength of transnational ideologies like Communism, and underestimated the degree to which national identities and interests would eventually generate intense conflicts within the Marxist world. Osama bin Laden made the same mistake when he thought that terrorist attacks and video-taped fulminations would ignite a mass movement to re-establish a transnational Islamic caliphate. And anyone who thinks that a rising China is going to tamely submit to . or Western notions of the proper world order fails to appreciate the degree to which nationalism is also a central part of the Chinese worldview, and far more important than any lingering "communist" ideals.
Part of the reason for this "sanctification" of borders was that Arab political and economic elites developed a vested interest in the survival of each particular state. Not surprisingly, these elites were loath to put themselves at risk for the sake of Arab unity.  So they argued that Arab nationalism was really just a license for some elites to browbeat others.  The advocates of territorial nationalism also relied on geo-political and cultural arguments in making their case. They insisted that Arab nationalists had failed to understand that while various Arab states might accept an overarching Arab identity, geographic and even cultural differences were real enough to preclude an organic unity. And they were right: the decline of Arab nationalism from 1961 validated their argument.