Iran has planned animosity for us from the beginning, as if the change [Revolution] that took place in Iran was designed with the intention to be against the interest of Iraq…[W]e have treated them more kindly than they deserve.
On 22 September 1980, after months of border skirmishes, Saddam's army streamed into Iran. Though hoping for a quick victory, Saddam soon found himself mired in an ill-conceived conflict against a powerful and motivated opponent. For eight long years, hundreds of thousands of soldiers fought in the marshes, mountains, and deserts dividing the two countries. As the conflict wore on, Saddam's desperate military employed chemical weapons, bombarded Iranian cities, and brutalized ethnic minorities. Iran responded by sending human waves of teenage zealots storming across Iraqi minefields and targeting neutral shipping in the Gulf. By the time both sides accepted a UN cease-fire in August 1988, the fighting had led to nearly a million casualties, thousands more sat in prison camps, and the region was poorer by billions of dollars. Saddam's glib conversations in this chapter belie the terrible suffering his words inflicted.