Iran-Iraq War, with no winner

As neighboring countries Iran and Iraq have had a very rocky relationship. In 1979 when the revolution took place in Iran, putting rebel leader Ayatollah Khomein in power, Iraq leader Saddam Hussein was threatened. Saddam was fearful of an attack from Iran because he was seen as a tyrant who oppressed his country. The strategy was simple, overthrow Iraq before Iraq could over throw Iran. Saddam believed “Iran was in turmoil and that his forces could achieve quick victory.” Iraqi forces invaded Iran in 1980 and by 1982 offered a cease fire.

While Saddam Hussein offered a cease fire , Ayatollah Khomein would not accept unless Saddam Hussein was no longer in power. Both countries were acting selfish and power seeking due to the insecurity within the states, proving the realist theory. Due to Saddam Hussein fear that he was going to be over thrown, this war was inevitable, a military war could not have been avoided. While it was Iraq who started the war, it was Iran who prolonged it. Khomeni wanted to give back “Islamic hope”  to the people by taking Saddam out of power.

 Iran-Iraq War 1980-1988 Map

With no central government at the top of the world, the Iran-Iraq war had to be stepped in by the United States and Russia providing assistance to Kuwait who was not involved in the war, but directly effected. By this point it was 1988 and international institutions had failed to provide any assistance to help stop the conflict before 1988 because of an anarchic international system. Iran and Iraq also acted like realist because they had no central authority and the United Nations Security Council had to urge Khomeni to take the cease fire, in which he equated to drinking poison to accepting the ceasefire. With $300 billion lost and almost 1 million lives loft for no winner seems pretty damaging to each state. To these states there was no other choice besides war. Military war was inevitable and could not have been stopped by bargaining.

Eilts, Hermann Frederi. “Saddam Hussein’s Iraq: A new Persian Gulf predator.” Harvard International Review 13, no. 2 (Winter90 1990): 4-59. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed October 8, 2015).

Hardy, Roger. “Iran-Iraq War: 25 Years on.” BBC News. September 22, 2005. Accessed October 8, 2015

Takeyh, Ray. “The Iran-Iraq War: A Reassessment.” Middle East Journal 64, no. 3 (Summer2010 2010): 365-383. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed October 8, 2015)


7 thoughts on “Iran-Iraq War, with no winner

  1. This post was a very interesting read. The power seeking countries and their leaders both provide an excellent example of realist theory and how countries always pursue their own interest first, even with the amount of money and lives that it cost


  2. Very interesting post ! I never really had full information or insight on the Iran-Iraq war until I read this post. It seems to make sense to me , now, why America supported Saddam Husseien during the Cold War.


  3. This was a very interesting post. The Iran-Iraq war isn’t something that is covered very often. The post elaborates on how the U.S. and Russia had to step in due to the failure of international institutions like the UN. This war also shows that even though almost 1 million lives were lost that some leaders just want to win. When the Ayatollah refused a cease fire it shows that all he wanted was to win at any cost. Money and lives lost didn’t matter to him in the slightest.


  4. I know some knowledge about Iran-Iraq wars but I did not fully understand the contexts of it so it is really helpful for me! The post explains how the Iran-Iraq war happened, why Hussein and Khomein did not compromise. It also searched why the head of each country behaved like selfish and Realistic. Though the war caused a lot of damages to them, it was really good from the viewpoint of USA because they were able to lessen the power of Iran without using their military. What USA might not expect was, however, Iraq’s action after the Iran-Iraq war. After this war happened, Hussein invaded Kuwait to gain the oil, so called “the Gulf War”. Due to this action, USA finally could not ignore it and took the leaderships in Coalition forces in Kuwait to defeat Iraq.


  5. “Cooperation is always the best one” As we learned, war could be not happened. There are always more better solutions than war. However, ironically, war is inevitable in some situation. Bargaining is not easy because of countries’ influence each other, power, size, status, culture differences, different persuasion tactics, etc. Iran and Iraq wars shows the example of difficult to bargaining. Every country pursue their own interest first.


  6. Iran and Iraq are a prime example of how the solution of peace or agreement by terms of negotiation are not always the end result. Due to the leaders disinterest to negotiate and give in even a little bit, the possibilities of resolving the issues were limited. The aggression on the side of Saddam to take care of a, “problem” before it happened was premature and simple the traits of a tyrant.


  7. The Iran-Iraq war was a big gain nothing for either side. similar to the stalemate of the First World War neither country wanted to budge on demands or withdraw. This war is also a direct cause of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait and the First Gulf War. Iraq was broke after a drawn out pointless war and needed a source of revenue.


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