The USSR and the Iran-Iraq War: From Brezhnev to Gorbachev
Soviet policy toward the war is best understood within the general framework of its policy in the Middle East-Persian Gulf region and as a function of Moscow's perception of opportunities and risks in the region as a whole. 1
What were traditional Soviet objectives in the region? Were there any modifications or changes in these objectives in the Gorbachev era? The answer given by Western Sovietologists to these questions, especially to the first, has generally been split along orthodox and revisionist interpretations of the cold war era and the intentions and objectives ascribed to Soviet global policy.
The orthodox view, while varying in degree of emphasis and rhetoric, sees Soviet traditional objectives as decidedly offensive and expansionist, motivated by a historical Russian idée fixe of the drive toward warm-water ports and the messianic impulses of Soviet communist ideology. Proponents of this school of thought have assembled evidence from the Russian and Soviet past and present. This evidence ranges from Peter the Great's mythical "will" and the Molotov- Ribbentrop Pact to Soviet intervention in Afghanistan, indicating a consistent forward-looking thrust in Soviet policy in the Persian Gulf region in the pre-Gorbachev era. Iran's geopolitical position as the only real physical barrier between the Soviet Union and the Persian Gulf has