Particular events that took place during the Cold War would later foreshadow and affect the events during the War on Terror, specifically regarding Iran and Iraq. During the Cold War Iraq invaded Iran and thus began the Iran-Iraq War in 1980, which would later involve the United States. This would just be the beginning of the affairs the United States would face when providing support for Iraq through this time. To completely understand the reasoning behind the War on Terror, the history of terrorism should be analyzed between the Cold War and September 11, 2001.The War on Terror was initialized by the attacks that took place on September 11. Although the attacks were carried out by Al Qaeda members, Iran and Iraq were investigated as well. The events during the Cold War provided a framework that would continue to build until the War on Terror campaign was launched. Iran and Iraq maintained a presence through both wars and the incidents that took place throughout the Cold War slowly led to the full blown War on Terror.
As technology advanced, countries struggled for power in an arms and space race throughout the Cold War in 1947. The United States was facing conflict with the Soviet Union, but still provided assistance to Iran and Iraq. America offered support by pressuring reform on Iran, which was suffering from a collapsing economy and a failing regime.1 According to Lisa Wolfe Iran did not fully embrace the support, “Misperception of US motives behind the move for internal change led many to ignore the fact that the US cared about Iran’s domestic politics only so far as they impacted the superpower’s own national interest.”1 The people of Iran believed the United States only had their own good intentions in mind. The United States did take the Iraqi side during the Iran-Iraq War, but China provided Iran with 22 percent of its arms.1 Iran was not at a complete disadvantage in the war, they had a form of outside help as well. The relations between Iran and the United States were nearly severed as Iran lost the war. The United States also took an active part in assuring Iraq would win the Iran-Iraq War. The Soviet Union and the United States competed for intelligence and information, but maintained neutral during the heated Iran-Iraq dispute in 1980. The United States offered their support to Sadam Hussein if he would shatter his support of Israel and other radical groups for the wellbeing of Iraq. The United States did not approve of militant organizations and wanted Sadam to cut ties for security. The United States began supplying Iraq arms which led them to be victorious only after Sadam made an open claim that he would no longer support militant organizations. Without American aide, Iraq would have been destroyed by post-revolutionary Iran. Four years later Iran captures territory in Iraq and Sadam approaches the situation through chemical warfare. His disregard to the conduct of war was a clue that control of Sadam was necessary. Later in 1990 Sadam makes demands to Kuwait and eagerly invades. He proceeds causing a massacre that was not favorable in the United Nations eyes. Sadam’s totalitarian regime was disastrous for Iraq so the United States responded with an air strike on the palace, headquarters, and administration. The United Nations came to a resolution that Iraq must disclose information on all chemical facilities, missile stock, production capabilities, and nuclear products. The United States wanted to help stabilize Iraq’s economy and trust in the government by implementing these policies. Iran and Iraq suffered from issues within their countries. Even with the persistent effort and aide of the United States, the government in these two regions remained unstable. The attacks from Iran and Iraq would definitely continue and eventually make their way back to American soil and begin the War on Terror. The War on Terror is a military campaign that developed overtime. Some events from the Cold War framed a structure that escaladed into the overall concept of the War on Terror. The War on Terror did not solely derive from terrorism from Iraq and Iran, other countries played major roles as well. After the World Trade Centers collapsed the 9/11 Commission Report recalls President Bush seeing Afghanistan as the priority.2 The main question was if Iraq was involved at all. The United States had previously dealt with Sadam and his unpredictability was unsettling alongside his long involvement in terrorism. Iraq and the United States were engaged in ongoing combat operations for years that could have given Iraq initiative to attack.2 In 2003, the United States invaded Iraq to overthrow Sadam Hussein and establish democracy. Iran was also a questionable subject, “Senior managers in Al Qaeda maintained contacts with Iran and the Iranian-supported worldwide terrorist organization Hezbolllah.”2 These radical groups were a primary source of terrorist acts therefore, any nation supporting these militant organizations were investigated for their involvement in 9/11. Neither Iran nor Iraq was exactly allies of the United States during the strike on September 11th, so it is very plausible that they may have had some sort of information or assistance regarding the attack. President George W. Bush focused his attention on Osama Bin Laden as Paul Wolfowitz argued, “Iraq was ultimately the source of the terrorist problem and should therefore be attacked.”2 It was determined that the hijackers were members of Al Qaeda, however Wolfowitz strongly believed Iraq had some sort of involvement. Iraq and Iran were targeted as suspects in the 9/11 attacks based on their earlier events.
Events during the Cold War and onward created a base for terrorism that continued to build until The War on Terror was launched. Upon connecting and analyzing the terrorism that has occurred overtime, Iraq and Iran’s relations with Washington DC were strained. In the interest of Iraq Sadam was not disregarded, “Its half-mad dictator, Saddam Hussein, had chafed for a decade under the sanctions imposed by the United States after the Persian Gulf War of 1991.”4 The United Stated imposed trade sanctions on Iraq that cut off financial and trade embargo that affected Iraq gravely, but for a purpose. The United Nations struggled with Iraq and the possibility they possessed weapons of mass destruction. The purpose of the sanctions was to limit Iraq in hopes that they would withdraw from Kuwait and to gather information on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. Huntington wrote, “Iraq had a significant chemical warfare capability and was making major efforts to acquire biological and nuclear weapons. Iran has an extensive program to develop nuclear weapons and has been expanding its capability for delivering them.”3 Both Iran and Iraq were trying to get ahold of unconventional weapons before September 11. The United States involvement in Iraq affairs before the War on Terror is what affects the way Iraq is viewed currently. Iran took more of the backseat to Iraq but they had their fair share of influence during 9/11. The relationship between Iran and the United States seemed to slowly repair itself around the time of the attack in 2001. Even though recent communication with Iran was on good terms, previous events would not be forgotten, “But more than two decades of ill will and powerful memories of the 1979 attack on the American embassy in Tehran (and the hostage crisis that followed) led many to believe that Iran had resumed its attack against America.”4 Iran had its contribution to terrorism on the United States and their previous involvement affected the reactions to 9/11 accordingly. President Bush stated, “The enemy of America is not our many Muslim friends; is not our many Arab friends. Our enemy is a radical network of terrorist and every government that supports them.”2 Bush clearly announces Al Qaeda is the enemy. Therefore if Iran or Iraq has any involvement with the radical organizations, they would be viewed as an enemy to America.
Iran and Iraq have created enough chaos through history, and specifically the Cold War, to fit into the War on Terror. In between the Cold War and the attack of 9/11 terrorism was present through the Iran-Iraq war, Sadam Hussein’s reign, the massacre in Kuwait, and many other events. It was because of their part in these events that affected the events in the War on Terror. Iraq and Iran were investigated after 9/11 because of their long history involving terrorism and their possible support of militant organizations. Figuring out whether or not Iran and Iraq were in communication to Al Qaeda would establish the link of being involved in 9/11. Terrorism coming from Iran and Iraq during the Cold war conditioned the effect of the events that took place during the War on Terror.
1 Wolfe, Lisa. "1950s Cold War Aid to Iran." the Cold War. http://www.coldwarstudies.com/2011/06/20/1950s-cold-war-us-aid-to-iran/ (accessed November 5, 2012). 2 The 9/11 Commission report: final report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States.. New York: Norton, 2004. Pg 334-340. 3 Huntington, Samuel P.. The clash of civilizations and the remaking of world order. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996. 4 "The Big Picture: Who, What, When, Where & (Especially) Why." The War on Terror Summary & Analysis. http://www.shmoop.com/war-on-terror/summary.html (accessed November 5, 2012).