GRM 2010 GRM 2011

Abstract Details

Family Name:
First Name:
Title of Paper:
Merely a Charm Offensive? The Foreign-Policy School of Thought behind Iran’s New Foreign Policy – With a Special Emphasis on the GCC
Paper Proposal Text :
Tehran’s geopolitical opponents have portrayed Iran’s new foreign-policy posture under its new president Hassan Rohani and his foreign minister Javad Zarif as merely a charm offensive primarily geared towards alleviating the weight of crippling sanctions, and thus devoid of substantive change.
This paper highlights the often-neglected dimension of schools of thought underpinning foreign policy. It is argued that Tehran’s new foreign policy is embedded within a specific foreign-policy school of thought which is characterized by Realism and a policy of détente.
Notably, with Hassan Rohani’s election, the Defensive Realist school of thought reasserted power, which had previously been ascendant during Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani’s and Mohammad Khatami’s administrations. Their prime objective was a policy of détente and rapprochement, especially with the West, but also with neighboring Arab states — specifically, Iran’s geopolitical adversary, Saudi Arabia. In contrast to the Offensive Realists who took the lead under the Ahmadinejad administration, Defensive Realists do not view foreign policy as a zero-sum game but instead as an arena where win-win situations ought to be explored – especially with the United States. Another pivotal difference between these schools of thought is their estimation of U.S. power.
After delineating the Defensive Realists’ foreign-policy “philosophy”, it will be asked in how far meaningful rapprochement between Iran and the GCC can be achieved, taking into account the crisis in Syria, Persian Gulf security, and the role of relations with Washington.