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This mid-2018 report has been professionally converted for accurate flowing-text e-book format reproduction. This study focuses on the official history collection program by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) during the Iran-Iraq War. From the beginning, the IRGC understood that this conflict would be a significant event in the life of the new Islamic Republic. Senior commanders emphasized the need to record the history of the "sacred defense" both to memorialize the sacrifices of the guard and to preserve enthusiasm for the revolution with future generations. It examines Iran's war history as a form of propaganda that acts as a framework for the IRGC and recounts how the war with Iraq has been remembered, retold, and utilized. Brandon A. Pinkley researched and wrote this publication while detailed for nine months in the Joint History Office. He reviewed and translated numerous IRGC documents from Persian Farsi for this study, and many of these are published here for the first time.
Iran's Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and Iraq's Saddam Hussein had been consolidating their power for years prior to the Iran-Iraq War (1980-88). It was during the first six months of 1979, however, that each formally ascended to their national leadership roles as the first Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the fifth president of Iraq, respectively. These two men came to symbolize competing and conflicting ideologies, and each was vying to emerge as a regional leader, seeking to carve out a third way between the patronage of "Western" capitalism or "Eastern" communism. Domestically, both men developed pervasive cults of personality in nations suffering from fragile state institutions; they consolidated power by challenging the legitimacy of the previous leadership and maintained their authority by employing military force against political opponents. Both Khomeini and Saddam employed their lands' histories to craft new national narratives capable of uniting diverse populations. Such revisions to pre- and post-Islamic narratives proved powerful not only for constructing national identities, but also for identifying each nation's villains and mobilizing the populace.
But the history of the Iran-Iraq War was much more complicated than the stories of two leading figures, or even of two nations. It involved competing visions of history; conflicting ideologies and theological traditions; contending layers of national identities; ethnic struggles for autonomy; and battles for natural resources, transport routes, alliances, credit, arms, and regional domination. It reignited ancient rivalries and was, at the same time, a war that could only have played out in the late-Cold War era. More importantly, it created challenges with clear links to more recent wars (most obviously the First Gulf War) and established entirely new tensions that will almost certainly plague the region for the foreseeable future, particularly regarding the incorporation of Shia militias into national institutions.