|Institution:||Naval Postgraduate School|
|Full text PDF:||http://hdl.handle.net/10945/32779|
While Iranian foreign policy making since the 1979 revolution has been erratic and even hostile to the interests of the United States, it has been anything but irrational and unintelligible. This thesis argues that Iranian foreign policy making is not enigmatic but rather can be understood in a systematic and rational manner. The key to understanding Iranian foreign policy making is the notion of factional politics in an unconsolidated polity. Put briefly, Than has lacked a consistent and decisive center of power, leaving foreign policy-making in the hands of various elite factions. The seemingly erratic nature of Iran's actions is explained by noting which taction is behind various policies. Seemingly self-defeating foreign policies have often been designed for domestic political advantage. Foreign policy, like domestic policy, is a tool for advantage in Iran's factional power struggle-conclusions directly at odds with Neo-Realist theory. President Khatami's pursuit of liberalization and rapprochement with the U.S. has highlighted the factional component of Iranian policy making. Understanding Iranian policy in this manner leads to a logical conclusion for U.S. policy makers: Khatami's overtures are genuine and strategic, not only because they will help Iran forward but also because the will help Khatami remain in power.