A "proxy war" with Iran, wasnt the same while Saddam in Iraq.?

THE UNITED STATES AND THE IRAN-IRAQ WAR STEPHEN R. SHALOM The war between Iran and Iraq was one of the great human tragedies of recent Middle Eastern history. Perhaps as many as a million people died, many more were wounded, and millions were made refugees. The resources wasted on the war exceeded what... show more THE UNITED STATES AND THE IRAN-IRAQ WAR

STEPHEN R. SHALOM



The war between Iran and Iraq was one of the great human tragedies of recent Middle Eastern history. Perhaps as many as a million people died, many more were wounded, and millions were made refugees. The resources wasted on the war exceeded what the entire Third World spent on public health in a decade.<1>

The war began on September 22, 1980, when Iraqi troops launched a full-scale invasion of Iran. Prior to this date there had been subversion by each country inside the other and also major border clashes. Iraq hoped for a lightning victory against an internationally isolated neighbor in the throes of revolutionary upheaval. But despite Iraq's initial successes, the Iranians rallied and, using their much larger population, were able by mid-1982 to push the invaders out. In June 1982, the Iranians went over to the offensive, but Iraq, with a significant advantage in heavy weaponry, was able to prevent a decisive Iranian breakthrough. The guns finally fell silent on August 20, 1988.

Primary responsibility for the eight long years of bloodletting must rest with the governments of the two countries -- the ruthless military regime of Saddam Hussein in Iraq and the ruthless clerical regime of the Ayatollah Khomeini in Iran. Khomeini was said by some to have a "martyr complex," though, as U.S. Secretary of State Cyrus Vance wryly observed, people with martyr complexes rarely live to be as old as Khomeini. Whatever his complexes, Khomeini had no qualms about sending his followers, including young boys, off to their deaths for his greater glory. This callous disregard for human life was no less characteristic of Saddam Hussein. And, for that matter, it was also no less characteristic of much of the world community, which not only couldn't be bothered by a few hundred thousand Third World corpses, but tried to profit from the conflict.

France became the major source of Iraq's high-tech weaponry, in no small part to protect its financial stake in that country.<2> The Soviet Union was Iraq's largest weapon's supplier, while jockeying for influence in both capitals. Israel provided arms to Iran, hoping to bleed the combatants by prolonging the war. And at least ten nations sold arms to both of the warring sides.<3>

The list of countries engaging in despicable behavior, however, would be incomplete without the United States. The U.S. objective was not profits from the arms trade, but the much more significant aim of controlling to the greatest extent possible the region's oil resources. Before turning to U.S. policy during the Iran-Iraq war, it will be useful to recall some of the history of the U.S. and oil.
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