The Leavenworth Way of War

History Discussion at CGSC

Winners and Losers

During the Iran – Iraq war, Iran suffered over one million killed in action combatants and the war cost the country over 500 billion dollars.  Iranians continue to suffer from the effects of Iraqi chemical weapons.  In comparison, Iraq suffered over 200,000 killed in action and had approximately the same war costs.  Both country’s economies were in ruin, oil production down,  and deeply in debt.  As an example, Iraq owed Kuwait over 14 billion dollars.

Because of the war, Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1991, was defeated during the U.S. led operation Desert Storm, and ultimately the Iraqi regime was toppled in 2003.

After the war, the Islamist government in Iran was strengthened and Iran remained isolated within the international community. Ayatollah Khomeini, the Supreme Leader of Iran died on June 3, 1989 –less than a year after the war ended in August 1988.

The international boundaries between Iraq and Iran in 1988, at the end of the war, were exactly the same as they were at the begining of the war.

So the question then is:  who won?

May 26, 2009 - Posted by | A652 | , , , , , ,


  1. In my opinion, neither Iraq nor Iran really won the war. Certainly both sides demonstrated military successes and failures based on the numerous battles and campaigns that were fought. In terms of strategic success, neither side one the war. Iraq and Iraq both emerged from the war with weakened economies and devastated militaries. Iraq failed to achieve its strategic goals with the war but did serve to achieve some prominence from its Arab neighbors from having fought the Persians. Iran served to lose its superpower allies and created a sense of uneasiness and distrust amongst its Arab neighbors. Neither Iran or Iraq won the war but emerged with weaker economies, devastated militaries, and with a mountain of debt owed to those that helped finance the war.

    Comment by MAJ Brady Gallagher | April 23, 2009

  2. Iran won. But failed to capitalize on Iraq’s failure. If Iran had shown an interest in becoming more accepted by the international community it would have done so. Obvioulsy it doesnt really care to improve relations with other western countries and continues to make “waves” by continuing nuclear research and devlopment.

    Comment by Daniel Meyerhuber | April 29, 2009

  3. In the long run, I think that Iran won. This war helped to consolidate power for the Islamist government. Also, since the war seemingly forced Iraq to invade Kuwait and caused a chain of events that led to Desert Storm and OIF, Iran will eventually face a very much weakened and vulnerable Iraq in the future. A nuclear Iran with its strategic position, without the buffer of a strong Iraq, can pose a huge threat to the entire Middle East.

    Comment by Wayne Wilson | April 29, 2009

  4. Iran was able to maintain the upper hand throughout most of the conflict. Even though Iran appeared vulnerable at the time of the invasion, the Iranian government was not willing to concede – even at the expense of a million lives. By the end of the conflict, it was Iraq that appeared weakened – militarily and especially economically. World opinion on Iraq was less than positive after their use of chemical weapons. The country never really recovered.
    Saddam built the Al Faw Palace (now a US military HQ at Camp Victory) in Baghdad to celebrate his “victory” in the Iran-Iraq conflict. The palace appears grand, but it is more a facade – a showpiece with no real substance. The marble walls are facade. The “crystal” chandeliers are plastic or glass. It’s sort of a metaphor for the empty victory Saddam claimed.

    Comment by MAJ Patty McPhillips | April 29, 2009

  5. Neither side won, but Iran is winning…the war is ongoing. Iraq sought an asymmetric advantage through fermenting revolt of the disenfranchised Iranian Arab minority. When open warfare ceased, Persian power was further entrenched when Iranian Arab’s refused to support rebellion and fought in support of Iran against family and fellow Arabs. Coalition disruption of the Iraqi power system and ongoing occupation enabled Iran’s capability to bring a proxy war to Iraq through essentially the same disenfranchised Shi’a population.

    Comment by MAJ Alexander | May 27, 2009

  6. It’s obvious that Saudi Arabia and the other oil producing Gulf states won a huge victory without firing a shot. By Iran and Iraq crippling their economies and losing any legitimacy with the international community during and after the way, the politically impotent Saudi monarchy capitalized by using the instability created by the war as a means to acquire US weaponry and US military protection. Additionally, they and the other Gulf states profitted economically by seeing Iran and Iraq’s oil export capacity monumentally reduced or completely eliminated (as in the case of Iraq who suffered under trade sanctions until after 2003).

    Both sides, as is the Arab way of war, would claim victory. However, from an outside perpective, it would be easy to claim that both lost. The proof is there. Neither has been able to be taken seriously since by their neighbors or the broader western or asian international communities. Iraq bolstered the 4th largest military on paper after the war; however, we all saw the Paper Tiger in action and quickly realized that quantity does not quality make. I was very impressed by the metaphor offered by MAJ McPhillips of the Al Faw Palace. What a wonderful analogy and absolutely drives the point home that Saddam’s victory claim came without substance or a lasting peace.

    Comment by Andrew Jones | June 1, 2009

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: