The Longest War: The Iran-Iraq Military Conflict (Anglais) Broché – 21 décembre 1990
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dollars and a million casualties, this savage
conflict (which featured chemical weapons and genocide
against the Kurds), largely unknown to most
Westerners, is far from over.
Hiro, an expert on Middle Eastern affairs, traces
the ancient animosities and territorial
aspirations which animated the slaughter, describes
in detail the actual fighting, and connects the
war to the Great Powers which covertly aided the
Finally, in his Epilogue, he notes the "no war, no
peace" status of the region and warns of an
arms-race between Iran and Iraq, which bodes ill for
the stability of an area which contains most of the world's
crude oil reserves.
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Readers of other military histories will be disappointed to find a lack of primary evidence into motives; however, it is important remember that such evidence was not available at the time of publication, as it is with, for example, a history of World War II.
One interesting factor about this book is that it was (apparently) written prior to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1991. This has positive and negative effects. For instance:
(1) Hiro does not have the benefit of being able to use future events to improve his analysis. For example, given the later invasion of Kuwait, Sadaam Hussein's invasion of Iran seems much more like a megalomaniac stab at natural resources (and their commensurate power) than the establishment of a bulwark against Shi'ite Islamism.
(2) Hiro's analysis does not suffer from bias created by later events. For example, American support of the Iraqi regime in the latter stages of the war is presented in the context of (a) Cold War competition with the Soviet Union, (b) protecting American interests in the gulf states from Iranian interference and (c) the political climate in America following the Iran-Contra affair. Today, it is common to see such support described as misguided or even hypocritical, given what happened in 1990-1 and in 2003. Hiro lays out reasons for American support to Iraq that were indeed very rational given what was known to American policymakers at the time.
With a good amount of information, mostly from news reports, Hiro produces an account of the history of animosity between the two oil rich neigbors.
Hiro extensively covers statements by Iraqi and Iranians officials and also includes statements by officials of foreign governments who were involced in the conflict.
Hiro, however, fails to describe the brutality of the Saddam Hussein regime and at times writes that the deposed Iraqi dictator enjoyed popular support. This is, by most other accounts, far from the truth.
Despite its extensive coverage, the book sometimes quickly surveys important issues such as the Iraqi usage of WMDs.
Hiro also reports, with minimum details, the tip of the balance in Iraqi favor. He does not provide enough information about the Iraqi military operations that reversed the course of the war.
Overall, the book is one of a few that documents one of the longest wars in modern history.