A University of Michigan poll found that Iraqis are growing more nationalist and secular. This is a good trend.

Despite the bloodshed by AQI, JAM and others, the Iraqis are forging a national identity and reject sectarianism and theocracy. The recent football victory in the Asian Cup revealed the national pride.

There is a caveat, but one we already knew. Only the Arabs are Iraqi Nationalists. The Kurds remain distinct, but they have growing nationalist belief as well.

As time goes on, Arab Sunnis and Arab Shia are identifying themselves as Iraqis first, not as Arabs or as Muslims. This trend demonstrates they are rejecting both the Pan-Arabism of Ba’athism and radical Islamism.

The Iraqis are also leaning towards secularism.

Overall, only 18 percent of those surveyed in October 2006 thought that having an Islamic government where religious authorities have absolute power is “very good,” compared with 26 percent surveyed in December 2004.

About a third of those surveyed in March 2007 strongly agreed that Iraq would be a better place if religion and politics were separated, compared with 24 percent in December 2004.

Additionally, Moaddel found a significant increase from April 2006 to October 2006 in the percent of Iraqis who gave six religious political parties a very unfavorable rating.

Foreigners have an impression that Iraq is rife with violent sectarianism and only separatism can stop the bloodshed. But violent gangs are not representative of the population. The Arabs beleive they will settle sectarian differences without mass exodus or a breakup of their country.

The Kurds, of course, are a different story. Generally, they are not causing many violent problems. The Kurds have a financial stake in the future of Iraq however, as they require Iraqi ports and trade. This self-interest has reduced the interest in independence.