Explaining Iran's foreign policy, 1979-2009
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This thesis examines Iranian foreign policy from 1979 to 2009. Five different explanatory models are evaluated using four well-documented historical examples. The goal of the project is to determine which, if any, of these five commonly used explanatory models possesses the most promise as a predictive tool for policymakers and intelligence analysts. Iranian involvement in the Lebanon Hostage Crisis, their support to Hezbollah, anti-Israel policy, and ongoing nuclear development program provide the context for evaluating realist, ideological, factionalist, constructivist, and two-level game theory models for explaining Iranian foreign policy. Aspects of each theory are assimilated by two-level game theory in such a way as to allow a large degree of explanatory flexibility. Iterative competition among the various interests of the state and political factions, as well as ideological and cultural factors, contribute significantly to each of the historical examples. Two-level game theory is identified as the model possessing the most promise for explaining Iranian state behavior during the period under study.
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