The Iran-Iraq War: The Politics of Aggression

By Farhang Rajaee | Go to book overview

1
Introduction

FARHANG RAJAEE

The Iraqi army crossed the border of Kuwait on August 2, 1990, and occupied the capital city of this small oil-rich state on the southern edge of the Persian Gulf. The occupation lasted a few months and ended on February 28, 1991, after an offensive launched by a conglomeration of forces basically from Western powers and in accordance with the general guidelines of United Nations resolutions.

This event was not the first in recent years in which the Iraqi army had committed an act of aggression, one not only against the principle of good neighborly relations but also against the principles of international law. The same army crossed the border of Iran on September 22, 1980, and started a war with the newly established revolutionary regime in that country. For social, economic, political, and historical reasons, and specifically as a reaction to the revived Islamic revolutionary ideology, this war lasted almost a decade with both sides spending about $350 billion. It ended in August 1987 when Iran formally accepted Security Council Resolution 598 on July 18, 1988, which called for a cease-fire. Neither side could claim victory--although, interestingly, Saddam Hussein did so in a speech on the anniversary of the Ba'ath party's accession to power on July 17, 1991 --but the war left its mark on relations between the two countries, on the region's political configuration, and on international political alignments.

Considering Clausewitzs famous maxim that "war is a mere continuation of policy by other means," exactly what type of policy has the Iraqi government been pursuing? 1 And considering that the strategists of any war argue that they are pursuing peace and that the war is "to end all wars," 2 and granting that the Iraqi regime had a clear policy ob

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