Why Did Saddam Invade Iran? New Evidence on Motives, Complexity, and the Israel Factor

Brands, Hal
July 2011
Journal of Military History;Jul2011, Vol. 75 Issue 3, p861
Academic Journal
Using newly available Iraqi records, this article revisits Saddam Hussein's decision to attack Iran in 1980. His decision defies easy categorization as offensive or defensive, strategic or ideological. The invasion's rationale reflected a diverse array of factors rather than any single overriding determinant. Simultaneously a defensive response to Iranian provocations and an attempt to exploit post-revolutionary Iranian weakness, the invasion was also thoroughly wound up in Saddam's ideological proclivities and exalted self-conception. Additionally, Saddam viewed attacking Iran as a step toward assuming his destiny as a great Arab leader and—more intriguingly—as a potential springboard to an eventual war against Israel. Strategy, ideology, and personality flowed together, creating a potent mix.


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