عنوان مقاله [English]
Foreign policy is the strategy designed by a state’s policy makers in relation to interactions with other states and international actors to achieve national objectives and safeguard national interests. An in-depth look into the Islamic Republic of Iran’s foreign policy indicates a set of ideological norms, principles, and objectives as well as a pragmatic approach, manifested in the last decades. Accepting the current realities in the world, a pragmatic foreign policy pursues maximum utilization of opportunities with regard to national interests of a given state. This study aimed to determine the role of ideology and pragmatism in Iran’s foreign policy during Hassan Rouhani’s presidency. It also attempted to establish which one of these factors was more essential and carried more weight. Accordingly, this was a historical-analytical study relying on library research. The results demonstrated that the rough core of Iran’s foreign policy based on ideological preference was the most important factor in determining Iran’s foreign strategies and policies under the Rouhani administration. Influenced by its sublime signifier, Rouhani’s government leaned towards moderation; while upholding an Islamic discourse whose elements were based on the principles and values of the Islamic Revolution, the Rouhani administration used its rationalistic and balanced approach, based on consequentialism, to deconstruct the structure of the international system.
In today’s complex international relations, adopting a rational approach is inevitable to gain the most advantages from the least capacities, critical situations, and the slightest diplomatic openings. Iran’s eleventh and twelfth governments under Hassan Rouhani were formed based on this view. The purpose of this study was determining the central factors regarding ideology and pragmatism in Islamic Republic of Iran’s foreign policy. Accordingly, the share of ideology and pragmatism and their level of essentiality in Iran’s foreign policy were specified during Hassan Rouhani’s two terms in office. The main hypothesis was that Iran’s foreign policy during Rouhani’s presidency took a pragmatic turn in many cases; however, its core remained intact and ideologically-driven.
2- THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK
There is no available consensus on a single fitting conceptual or theoretical framework for studying and analyzing the Islamic Republic of Iran’s foreign policy. This results from the relationship between an international relations theory and the Islamic Republic’s identity and foreign policy. It is crucial to note that using conceptual frameworks based on international relations theories to analyze Iran’s foreign policy involves many theoretical limitations. The first limitation rises from the nature of international relations theories that are propounded to explain and preserve the historical and cultural international order. The Islamic nature of Iran’s regime is another limitation, which challenges selecting a fitting conceptual framework for analyzing its foreign policy. Therefore, the Islamic nature of the 1979 revolution in Iran and the ideology legitimizing its resultant political system restrict the application of revolutionary foreign policy theories. However, this does not justify the development of a particular theory for analyzing Iran’s foreign policy.
This historical-analytical study was based on library research. Accordingly, the role of ideology and pragmatism in Iran’s foreign policy during the Rouhani administration was examined using discourse analysis.
4- RESULTS & DISCUSSION
Ideology in the foreign policy of Iran’s eleventh and twelfth governments
Islamism is the dominant ideology of the Islamic Republic of Iran; nonetheless, Rouhani attempted to present milder interpretations with regard to ideological issues in his discourse of moderation. In addition to establishing a balance between realistic and idealistic objectives, this approach avoided exaggeration and ideologization of issues, highlighting Iran’s national interests. This is because moderate ideologism requires a balance between realism and idealism or national and ideological interests of Iran.
Pragmatism in the foreign policy of Iran’s eleventh and twelfth governments
When Rouhani came to power in 2013, a new approach was adopted in Iran’s foreign policy, prioritizing ties with neighbors and countries in the region. The Rouhani administration pursued its prized order under a strategy based on constructive interaction and de-escalation of tensions. The cardinal characteristics of Rouhani’s foreign policy included de-escalating tensions, trust-building, rationalism in foreign policy, saving face and improving Iran’s position in the world, active diplomacy, balanced and improved relations, particularly with Iran’s neighbors.
5- CONCLUSIONS & SUGGESTIONS
The predominant discourse of the eleventh and twelfth governments of Iran encompassed a balance of idealism and realism. In conjunction with accepting its idealistic and deconstructive mission, the Rouhani administration was observant of the requirements and current frameworks of the international system. During these two terms, Iran’s foreign policy was a combination of pragmatic and ideological approaches, each prioritized at different times according to the degree they secured Iran’s national interests. Nevertheless, the unshakable principle in Iran’s foreign policy remained its ideological aspect, which proved to be more essential. Pragmatism in Iran’s foreign policy can be traced to limitations in sources of national power and restrictions imposed by the international system.