Iran-watchers disagree on whether President Obama's strategy of containing Iran is working, whether Israel will attack Iran, and whether such an attack would draw in the U.S. against Iran. Those debates all fall by the wayside today, as the worst-case scenario of U.S.-Iran conflict arrives. But this cold war isn't fought with guns or bombs: the battlefield is ice cream, and the Washington Post's Liz Sly warns that Iran is winning.
BAGHDAD - In the heart of Baghdad's Green Zone, just yards from the mighty fortress of the biggest U.S. embassy in the world, a small but symbolic challenge to America's rapidly waning influence in Iraq is taking shape in the form of an Iranian ice cream parlor. Ice Pack, an aggressive new franchise that proclaims its intent to challenge U.S. fast-food hegemony worldwide, will open its Green Zone branch in January.
... Simply by being next door, Iran wields leverage in Iraq that the United States cannot hope to enjoy. Hundreds of thousands of Iranians visit Iraq's holy Shiite shrines every year, Iranian goods flow freely across the border and Iraqi politicians are acutely aware that they will have to continue dealing with Iran, with which Iraq fought an eight-year war in the 1980s, long after U.S. troops have gone home.
... Meanwhile, as Ice Pack expands across Iraq, there are no plans to open Baghdad branches of McDonald's, Starbucks, Burger King or any of the other U.S. brand names that are entrenched in most other countries in the region.
Sly is careful to note that "Iranian-made ice cream is a lesser threat to U.S. officials than the Iranian-made rockets, fired by Iranian-trained and funded militias, that periodically crash into the embassy and its environs." That may be true, but if Iran adds "yellowcake" to its list of flavors, we expect the CIA to begin treating Iranian ice cream as the top-level security threat it clearly is. In the meantime, perhaps someone can engineer a Stuxnet-like virus to send Iran's ice cream makers spinning out of control?