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Psychology of MIND

Psychology of WAR

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First Gulf War
Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988)
Guide picks

Although the Iran-Iraq War placed a tremendous political, social, and economic strain on the region, many historians view the conflict as just another phase of the ancient Persian-Arab conflict. However, Saddam Hussein's decision to invade Iran on September 9, 1980 was fueled directly out of fear that Iran's new revolutionary leadership would eventually fracture Iraq's delicate Sunni-Shia balance -- resulting in the loss of Iraq's vital access to the Persian Gulf. Read more about the border tensions between Iran and Iraq, the Iraqi strategic blunders which resulted in the bloody stalemate of 1980-82, and the Iranian-Iraqi offensives which eventually brought both war-weary sides to the peace table.

Map of the 1st Persian Gulf WarThe borderlands between Iran and Iraq have never made any sense. Rather than defining any real ethnic homeland, the border merely marks where two expanding imperial dynasties -- the Ottomans and Persians -- ran into each other in the Sixteenth Century. The final treaty signed some two centuries later split Kurds, Shiites and Arabs between two alien overlords along a vague line drawn somewhere in the wild mountains. Even the break-up of the Ottoman Empire after World War One didn't improve matters much, as the non-Turkish provinces were turned over to the British and French as mandates under the League of Nations rather than formed into logical nation-states.

Under the 1975 Algiers Agreement, Iraq ceded 518 km2 of oil-rich borderlands along the Shatt al-Arab in exchange for an Iranian agreement to stop supporting Kurdish rebels in Iraq. By 1979, however, Saddam Hussein had clawed his way to the top of the ruling junta of Iraq and took advantage of the chaos unleashed by the recent Iranian Revolution to shift the disputed border back in Iraq's favor, with the excuse being that the predominantly Arab population of this region would prefer being part of the predominantly Arab state of Iraq. His armies crossed into Iran in September, 1980. After some initial success, the Iraqis stalled in the outskirts of Abadan.

When two of the world's leading suppliers of oil go to war, the world has to take sides, but when the war pits a corrupt dictatorship against a fanatic theocracy, it's hard to know which side to take. As a purely practical matter, however, it's best to line up with corrupt dictatorships because they're usually more willing to work a deal. During the Iran-Iraq War, the world as a whole tossed in with Iraq. The two superpowers openly assisted the Iraqis, as did most centrist Moslem states such as Egypt, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.


War has shaped our constitutional order, the course of our national development, and the very mentality of our people.
Culture of Terror


A short quick history of the Al-Hussein missile.



  During the 1980s, in the war between Iran and Iraq; the Iraqis found that their Soviet made SCUD B missiles could not reach the Iranian capital of Tehran.  The Iraqis needed a missile with more range, and so Saddam Hussein set his best engineers to work on a longer range missile.  After several failed attempts to crate their own missile, the Iraqi engineers began a program of reverse engineering, taking apart the Soviet SCUDs, and trying to duplicate them, and re-engineer a missile to suit Iraqi needs.  The result with the most success was the AL-HUSSEIN SCUD variant.

  The Al-Hussein was made by cannibalizing 1 out of every 3 Soviet SCUD-B missiles and using them to create 2 lengthened variations.  The AL-HUSSEIN used a warhead lightened from the 800K weight, to only about 190K; and larger fuel capacity.  The UDMH fuel was a combination of the actual fuel-kerosene, and an oxidizer-red fuming Nitric acid.  The oxidizer tank was lengthened by 85cms, and the fuel tank by 45cms.  The new overall length was 12,46meters and it had a range of 600kms, vs. the normal SCUD range of 280kms.  Since it used the same guidance system as on the original Scuds, it had a decreased effective radius at longer ranges, varying from 1.6km to 3.3 kilometers for a strike zone.  Often the missile was so unstable upon re-entry that it often broke apart before reaching its intended target.  It was still considered a success, and was launched successfully against Tehran, and began what was known as the War of the Cities.



  Later during the 1991 Gulf War, the missile was used against Coalition forces and Israel. Launches at Israel were an attempt to goad them into a fight which might bring the other Arab nations to the aid of Iraq in a fight against Israel, and its allies.  Although it is reported now that none of the missiles contained chemical weapons, there were several scares due to the breaking apart of the missile, which spread a yellowish cloud of the Nitric Acid oxidizer, causing irritation of the throat, lungs, and redness of the skin to anyone who happened to be underneath where the cloud fell.

  Israel displayed great restraint in staying out of the fight.   Of the 93 total missiles launched during Operation Desert Storm, 88 were the Al-Hussein variant, with 42 launched against Israel, and 46 launched against coalition forces, resulting in 28 deaths among Coalition troops.

   Another interesting variant of the Al-Hussein is the AL-Hijara; which means "The Stones".  Although it appeared identical to the AL-Hussein, the warhead was of concrete.


The war seemed to have a life of its own. It appeared in our data to sustain itself with a cycle of terror. The war destroyed the economic system. The depressed financial situation created large numbers of disillusioned youth; many of these young men, experienced with guns, took the only employment that was open to them, the militias. The militias continued the war and further destroyed the economy (287) … The meaning that young people made of terror was inadequate and only led to a vicious cycle. Children had developed, at best, only temporary defense mechanisms rather than meaning systems, and adolescents seemed to see salvation only in terms of leaving the country or joining the militias