This paper seeks to address the impact of the Iran-Iraq War, which took place between 1980 and 1988, on Iran-U.S. relations. For Iran, the legacy of the war included the loss of a generation of men—hundreds of thousands died and many more were wounded. It also included the large-scale destruction of many Iranian cities, and especially their industrial infrastructure. During the eight-year war, U.S. foreign policy highly securitized Iran and its Islamic Revolution as an existential threat to world security. Therefore, war is the fundamental fact on which the antagonistic nature of Iran-U.S. relations has been shaped since 1980. Thirty-two years after the Iran-Iraq War, one might think that the mutual and extreme securitization of Iran in U.S. foreign policy might relent. But the narratives have taken on a life of their own, fed by rumor, rhetoric, and mutual threats. One of the greatest challenges will be to try to bridge the gap between the dueling narratives, and suggest realistic approaches that might begin desecuritize Iran-U.S relations, retrieve it from the domain of emergency politics and return it to the sphere of normal politics. Nothing could be more urgent. If the Americans or the Israelis, or both, attack Iran in an effort to destroy its nuclear facilities, the mother of all Iranian stereotypes of the West will seem to a wide sector of the Iranian population to have been confirmed. 


Keywords: U.S. Foreign Policy, Islamic Revolution, Iran-Iraq War, Securitization, de-securitization