November 12, 2012
Iraq before the 1991 Gulf War was a modern despotism with a shiny infrastructure financed by one of the most profitable oil industries in the Middle East. The government provided medical care for the poor; an expanding education system had slashed illiteracy. Life was comfortable for the big, secular-minded middle class—the English-speaking doctors and engineers with their diverse portfolio of investments: property, cars, carpets. The housewives bought filet because it was cheap to buy chuck, fruits were consumed by the crate-load, and child obesity was a national problem.
There is more than a passing similarity between the Iraq of 1990 and Iran now—or, rather, the Iran of a year or so ago, before sanctions started to bite. More than a decade of h
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