Iran’s Foreign Policy toward the United States

Iran’s foreign policy has attracted a lot of attention since its transformation after the 1979 revolution. Prior to the revolution the country’s foreign policy was inclined towards the support of Western Economies. Relations with the United States at the time were well founded with the U.S providing protection to Iran from other countries such as the Soviet Union whose soldiers remained in Iran despite the end of the Second World War. The 1979 Islamic revolution however lead to a shift in policy after the Shah leadership that had the support of the US was overthrown. What followed was the adoption of religious doctrines that bore conflicting interests with the interests of the western world. Haynes (157) for instance notes that though the anti-Shah movement had a political and economic advent; “religious leaders’ overall goal focused on creating an Islamic state and publicly rejecting ‘Western’ liberal democracy.” Such perception of Iran as a fundamentalist state has aggravated the relationship between Iran and the United States especially after the September 11 terror attacks. Further the perception that the country is ruled by fundamentalists has also resulted Western countries resistance to Iran’s nuclear projects. This has further pulled apart the country from such Western countries leading to installation of sanctions against the republic.

Religious fundamentalism is not therefore the sole factor that influences Iran’s foreign policy. Rasmussen (4), in arguing for the rationality of Iran’s foreign policy, for instance advances that the country has experienced pressures from national, regional and global realm that have helped it shape its foreign policy. Regional pressures such as the gulf war and the continuing Israel-Arab crisis in the Middle East have also had a significant influence on the strategy. This paper aims to discuss factors that have been core to the development of Iran’s foreign policy. First the historical sequence and context of Iran’s foreign policy is presented and alternative policies in Iranian environment discussed.

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