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Iran- Iraq War through the Constructivist Lens

Conflict in the World Class
by

Shell Bennet

on 25 March 2013

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Transcript of Iran- Iraq War through the Constructivist Lens

Through the Constructivist Viewpoint Iran-Iraq War Religion Normative and ideational structures are just as important as material structures.
Understanding how actors develop their interest is crucial to explaining a wide range of international political phenomenons. Constructivism (cont.) The struggle between these two countries stretches back a millennium or more. Tension and rivalry has always existed between Iran and Iraq or their predecessors because the two countries lie on either side of a geographical and cultural divide.

East of that divide is vast Iranian plateau which was the core of Persian Civilization

West is the vast alluvian plains that for the prior 14th century were dominated by a combo of Arab and Turkish rulers.

Although they are united by their Islamic civilization but political and cultural tensions= hallmark of their relations History Territory Islam played a role in dividing the countries up.
Approx 4 ½ centuries Iran= bastian of the Shi’ite branch of Islam while Iraq’s political elite is Sunni Islam.
How does Constructivism explain the reason why Iraq went to war with Iran? -History
-Religion
-Territory
-Nationalism Today I will Discuss: How the Constructivist viewpoint gives us a holistic approach to inter-state conflict
Case Study: Iran-Iraq War What is constructivism?
What does Constructivism say about Inter-state Conflict?
What ideational Structures caused the Iran-Iraq War? Constructivism At its core Constructivism seeks to demonstrate the Power of ideas, norms and values in shaping world politics.
-Christian Reus-Smit The nature and roles of how these different world issues came to be is what is most important. “Neorealists see the structure of the international system as a distribution of material capabilities because they approach their subject with a materialist lens Neoliberals see it as capabilities plus institutions because they have added to the material base an institutional superstructure and Constructivists see it as a distribution of ideas because they have an idealist ontology”
-Alexander Wendt. “Without ideas there are no interest, without interest there are no meaningful material conditions, without material conditions there is no reality at all”.
Alexander Wendt Anarchy is What the States Make of It”

What states do to each other affects the social structures in which they are embedded by a logic of reciprocity.

On the structural side. The ability of revisionist states to create a war of all against all depends on the structure of shared knowledge in which they enter. If in past interactions their structure dictates that status quo is divided or naïve this would amount to a Hobbesian world in which power and self interest rule. Shatt al Arab is Iraq’s principal maritime window . major crude oil export piplelines lie parallel to the river border

Iran also has ties to the port Khorramshahr- serves as the southern railhead for the Trans-Iranian railaway system. And it is the port closest to the major inland population centers.

This river has been the source for many disputes since the late nineteenth century

The treaty of 1975 is the one that Saddam Hussein declared null and void just prior to Iraq's invasion or Iran on Sept. 22 1980 Iran’s AAyatollah Ruhollah Khomeini declared Ba’thism is a “satanic philosophy and swore to destroy it and Saddam Hussein." This upset Saddam not only because of the threats against his life but because he feared the Sunni population of Iraq would react. Religion Continued Following Khomeini's rise to power through the Iranian Revolution, Iraqi citizens started attending mosque in not only the Shi'i but also the Sunni areas.


This would clearly undermine the Iraqi Nationalism

Saddam launched a full fledged attack to humiliate the main source of Iraqi Shi'i revolutionaries and to nip the growing Sunni religiosity in the bud.

Saddam expelled 40 thousand Persians from Iraq Without ideas there are no interest, without interest there are no meaningful material conditions, without material conditions there is no reality at all”
-Alexander Wendt Their interest was clearly centered around the fight for nationalism through religion

Iraq sought to gain more territory in Iran but over the course of the eight years Iran regained its territory but their ruler Aayatola admitted defeat.

Today the country has a 90% Shia population and a 8% Sunni while Iraq has a 60% Shia and 37% Sunni population. Who won the war?


What structures were put in play for the Kuwait War and the American led invasion of Iraq. These are all further research questions that are a causation of the Iran- Iraq War. Works Cited Christian Reus-Smit, Constructivism: Theories of International Relations. 2009
Grummon, Stephen. Iran-Iraq:Islam Embattled The Washington Papers. 1982
Wendt, Alexander "Social Theory of International Politics" 1999
Mearsheimer & Waltz, "An Unnecessary War" Ciaonet.org
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