Throughout the Cold War, Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan were caught between the geopolitical ambitions of the United States and the Soviet Union. Stalin himself famously called the Caucasus the "soft underbelly" of the Soviet Union, both vulnerable to outside attack and valuable for its vast oil reserves. As a result, the last three quarters of a century have seen a number of small skirmishes, wars, and regime changes and what has become the world's most volatile region. National Security Archive Deputy Director Malcolm Byrne discusses this eventful period in world history

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