The United States' most lasting legacy to that ancient land may be fast food.
Forget the lofty ideals that President George W. Bush invoked as rationale for his invasion of Iraq. The United States' most lasting legacy to that ancient land may be fast food.
According to the Associated Press, the residents of Baghdad can now enjoy pizza, milkshakes, chili-cheese dogs, hot wings, Philly cheesesteaks and oversize hamburgers, served in restaurants with vaguely familiar-sounding names: Pizza Pizza, Burger Joint, Mr. Potato and Burger Friends.
One fried-chicken restaurant, KFG, is admittedly a knockoff of KFC. Indeed, "Kentucky" has become the generic name for American-style fried chicken, which Iraqis pack away by the bucketload.
There were American fast-food places in Iraq during the U.S. occupation, but they were on heavily fortified bases inaccessible to ordinary Iraqis. When the American troops left, so did the franchises.
But the U.S. left behind a taste for half-pounders with cheese and extra-spicy chicken. Local entrepreneurs and investors from neighboring nations have moved to fill that craving.
Baghdad physician Dr. Sarmad Hamid worried that the U.S.-style restaurants "will make Iraqis, especially children, fatter." But, he said, "People might benefit psychologically by sitting down in a quiet, clean and relatively fancy place with their families, away from the chaos in Iraqi cities."
The restaurants, which patrons dress up to visit, testify to a return to something like normal. There's still some risk, but at the height of the terror campaign, any place that attracted a crowd was a likely target for bombing.
Even the owners of traditional Iraqi restaurants, such as the ones specializing in roasted carp, welcome the competition. Said one owner: "Sometimes we need 'Kentucky.' Not just fish, fish, fish."