Monthly Archives: November 2015

The Iran-Iraq War: a Military and Strategic History by Williamson Murray and Kevin M. Woods

This is a very informative book about the Iran-Iraq war. It did cover more detail from the side of Iraq drawing heavily on Iraqi government documents captured by the US.

It discusses the limitations of the armed forces in totalitarian states such as Iraq. A major drawback being their primary function for internal repression, and their involvement in internal politics, which was quite extensive in the case of Iraq which lead to Saddam Hussein controlling them very tightly.

Despite this it shows the increasing professionalization of the Iraqi army and their ready access to modern weapons. This is contrasted with the Iranian army. By some measures the Iranians had many advantages such as more internal resources, a higher population, and popular enthusiasm. However, these were negated by a mixture of Iranian foreign government policies which managed to alienate most potential allies, a distrust of any form of military professionalism, and a readiness to accept dreadful casualties (perhaps these aligned with Shia traditions of martyrdom).  The suggestion is made that the Iranian theocratic government was exceptionally unsuited to prosecuting modern warfare, and tended to measure success in terms of the heavy casualties they suffered (probably it is more successful to inflict these on your enemy).