Cultural Revolutions

Iran and Her Smiles

In the aftermath of the ousting of Saddam Hussein and the “liberation” of Iraq by U.S. forces, Bush-administration officials who had earlier compared Saddam to Hitler extended that analogy and suggested that postwar Iraq was like post-World War II Germany and Japan and Italy, where the U.S. military occupation helped replace totalitarian regimes with thriving democratic systems.  Hence, after freeing Iraq from the yoke of Ba’athism, there was no reason why the Americans would not be successful in producing a rerun of the Western-oriented political and economic reconstruction of Germany, Japan, and Italy in Iraq—and then in Iran, Syria, Palestine, and parts beyond.

As the neoconservative ideologues were drawing the parallels between “Islamofascism” and Nazism, envisaging the rise of a liberal democracy on the banks of the Euphrates, and debating whether Ahmed Chalabi should be marketed as the Adenauer or the De Gaulle of the New Iraq, a friend forwarded me a brief survey he had just completed: “One-Hundred Reasons Why Iraq Is Not Germany and Japan.”  In it he explained why the neoconservative historical analogy was so silly, mostly because it was, well, ahistorical and failed to take into account the many differences among, say, Iraq, Germany, and Japan—or for that matter, between Germany and Japan, or Iraq and Iran—with regard to geographic location, demographic makeup, and cultural and...

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