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Independence without Freedom

Independence without Freedom: Iran's Foreign Policy

Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 400
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  • Book Info
    Independence without Freedom
    Book Description:

    Ruhi Ramazani is widely considered the dean of Iranian foreign policy study, having spent the past sixty years studying and writing about the country's international relations. InIndependence without Freedom,Ramazani draws together twenty of his most insightful and important articles and book chapters, with a new introduction and afterword, which taken together offer compelling evidence that the United States and Iran will not go to war.

    The volume's introduction outlines the origins of Ramazani's early interest in Iran's international role, which can be traced to the crushing effects of World War II on the country and Iran's historic decision to free its oil industry from the British Empire. In the afterword, he discusses the reasons behind America's poor understanding of Iranian foreign policy, articulates the fundamentals of his own approach to the study of Iran-including the nuclear dispute-and describes the major instruments behind Iran's foreign efforts. Independence without Freedom will serve as a crucial resource for anyone interested in the factors and forces that drive Iranian behavior in world politics.

    eISBN: 978-0-8139-3499-0
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xii)
    (pp. 1-6)

    The concluding essay in this volume points out that since its revolution in 1979 Iran has effectively resisted any major power intrusion into its decision-making process. Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, felt the need to declare to the world the ideals of the Iranian Revolution. They are independence, freedom, and Islam. This study argues, however, that Iran has failed so far to combine the “inseparable” independence and freedom that the Iranian Constitution calls for.

    The germ of my interest in Iran’s international role can be traced to the crushing effects of World War II...


      (pp. 9-15)

      After nearly ten years of political quietism and apparent political stability, antigovernment riots broke out in Iran early in June 1963. The riots were not incited by the supporters of Dr. Mohammad Mosaddegh, whose government had been overthrown by the “Royalists” nearly ten years before. Rather, the government charged, they were instigated by “the elements of Black Reaction.” In retaliation, therefore, the religious figures who led the riots, Ayatollah Khomeini of Qom, Ayatollah Qumi of Meshed, and Ayatollah Mahallati of Shiraz, were thrown into prison and were subsequently released upon having given their word not to interfere in the affairs...

    • IRAN’S “WHITE REVOLUTION”: A Study in Political Development
      (pp. 16-32)

      Iran is entering the second decade of its “White Revolution.” The Shah has set forth his own account of it,¹ but the scholarly community has, as yet, made no serious attempt at analyzing it.² This omission is glaring regardless of justifications. It is, in fact, an omission that verges on scholarly neglect because, if there is any validity in the propositions of this study, a better understanding of Iran’s contemporary achievements and dilemmas would seem to require probing the very meaning of the “White Revolution” by going beyond its official label and the adumbration of its programs. The purpose of...

    • IRAN’S REVOLUTION: Patterns, Problems, and Prospects
      (pp. 33-49)

      The global repercussions of the Iranian Revolution continue. All around the world the revolution produces almost daily headlines referring to the tensions, strains, uncertainties, and conflicts that it exhibits at the local, regional, and international levels. The increasingly polarized domestic politics of Iran, the mounting tensions on its borders with Iraq, and especially the rupture of diplomatic relations and the start of economic warfare between the United States and Iran arouse worldwide concern. Beyond this, the threat of unilateral American military action against Iran over the issue of the American hostages hangs like a storm cloud since few observers believe...

    • WHO LOST AMERICA? The Case of Iran
      (pp. 50-68)

      Whatever the reason for any puzzlement over the title of this essay may be, I hope to challenge it. We Americans are accustomed to asking, “Who lost Iran?” as in the past we have asked, “Who lost China?,” “Who lost Indo-china?,” “Who lost Nicaragua?,” and as in the future we may ask, for example, “Who lost El Salvador?” As long as this thought pattern persists we are apt to repeat similar questions about any country in which a regime friendly to the United States is toppled and American influence collapses as a result.

      The reason for this tenacious habit of...


      (pp. 71-93)

      The “Islamic Republic of Iran” celebrated its third anniversary on April 1, 1982. The Iranian Revolution has gone through three major stages of development in three years and is still evolving. It has been marked by international crises and war with other states, as well as by domestic political chaos, economic paralysis, acts of terrorism, armed insurrection, ethnic insurgency, summary executions, and generally a basic lack of internal cohesion. It has also been marked by a sensational record of governmental changes; revolutionary Iran has had three presidents, four prime ministers, and seven foreign ministers in the span of only three...

    • IRAN: Burying the Hatchet
      (pp. 94-110)

      Today’s wisdom may be tomorrow’s folly, unless political leaders are able to combine their current imperatives with foresight. For the past half-dozen years American foreign policy has aimed at containing revolutionary Iran and has been based on the conviction that an Iranian victory in its war with Iraq would shatter the structure of the industrialized democracies’ interests in the Persian Gulf region. Startlingly enough, scholars, no less than leaders, who obviously must prepare for the worst, have uncritically accepted the current conventional wisdom about an Iranian victory, even though it is not shared by most NATO members (including Turkey), Japan,...

    • IRAN’S FOREIGN POLICY: Contending Orientations
      (pp. 111-127)

      An entire decade of cold war and nearly a year of sporadic armed skirmishes between Tehran and Washington have not led to a better U.S. understanding of revolutionary Iran’s foreign policy. Academic discussion has helped, but not enough. Two dominant analytical tendencies have impeded a fuller comprehension. One views Iran’s foreign policy as though it were a mirror image of its “domestic politics.” The other sees Iran’s foreign policy mainly in terms of geopolitics. An examination of Iran’s words and deeds and its theories and practices make clear that Tehran’s foreign policy has been shaped largely by an acute interplay...

    • IRAN’S EXPORT OF THE REVOLUTION: Its Politics, Ends, and Means
      (pp. 128-147)

      Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s imposition of a death sentence on Salman Rushdie ignited a new global crisis. The move demonstrated that Iran’s underlying commitment to “the export of the revolution” (sodour-e enqelab) was alive and well. It also demonstrated that an assessment of the relative impact of Iran’s export activities compared with the indigenous causes of Islamic resurgence in other societies can have profound implications for not only the Muslim world but also the international system as a whole. Such an assessment is the principal burden of this volume, which seeks to inquire into the global impact of the Iranian Revolution....

      (pp. 148-159)

      The all-important foreign-policy component of Iranian president Mohammad Khatami’s election has been universally overlooked, partly because of the reformist rhetoric of his election campaign. This essay argues that the pivotal synergy in President Khatami’s worldview between reforms at home and peace abroad was the principal reason why his overall message resonated so dramatically with young Iranians. More self-reliant, and also more exposed to worldwide influences of the democratic movement than their parents, these young men and women voted for Khatami significantly because they aspired to greater freedom at home and more cooperation with the rest of the world.

      Does the...

    • REFLECTIONS ON IRAN’S FOREIGN POLICY: Defining the “National Interest”
      (pp. 160-183)

      One of the most crucial intellectual challenges facing Iran as it enters the third decade of its revolution, I would argue, is how it will define its “national interests” (manafa-e melli). Five years before the eruption of the Iranian Revolution, I asked a similar question at the conclusion of a two-volume study of Iran’s foreign policy from 1500–1973, when Iran had been ruled by monarchical dynasties from the Safavids to the Pahlavis in modern history.¹ Since the revolution destroyed the ancient monarchical polity, one might inquire why I am still asking such a question. My study of the foreign...

      (pp. 184-195)

      This essay hypothesizes that the tension between religious ideology and pragmatism has persisted throughout Iranian history. The Iranian Revolution simply put it on graphic display in the contemporary period. The essay also suggests that the dynamic processes of cultural maturation seem to be shifting the balance of influence increasingly away from religious ideology toward pragmatic calculation of the national interest in the making and implementation of foreign-policy decisions. The obvious implications of all this for U.S.-Iranian relations are mentioned.

      The balance of ideology and pragmatism in the making of Iranian foreign-policy decisions has been one of the most persistent, intricate,...

      (pp. 196-212)

      This essay suggests that the evolution of Iran’s foreign policy since the revolution in 1979 has incrementally produced an aspirational paradigm for Iran’s foreign policy makers that I call “spiritual pragmatic.”

      Pragmatism is conventionally viewed as the opposite of principle, whether religious, moral, or ideological. The gradual evolution of Iranian foreign policy since the Iranian Revolution, however, demonstrates that foreign policy makers have aspired to create a hybrid of pragmatism and spirituality.

      The conundrum of spirituality and pragmatism in history is not limited to Iran, however; it is universal. American foreign policy, for example, shows that this tension is often...


      (pp. 215-228)

      Who should maintain the future security of the Persian Gulf? This question looms large in the minds of policymakers in the United States, Western Europe, Japan, and, of course, the Persian Gulf states. The fact that this question is raised with a deep sense of urgency in numerous capitals of the world indicates the extent to which Iran was perceived as having ensured Gulf security before the outbreak of its recent revolution. Although American rhetoric spoke of pursuing a “twin-pillar policy,” the United States itself actually relied primarily on Iran to perform the role of the “policeman” for the Gulf...

    • THE STRAIT OF HORMUZ: The Global Chokepoint
      (pp. 229-239)

      Ensuring the uninterrupted flow of Persian Gulf oil to world markets through the Strait of Hormuz is an economic, a political, and a strategic imperative. Yet fears and suspicions as to how this basic goal might be achieved tend to complicate both the identification of the problems involved and the proposals for overcoming them. Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi used to exaggerate the vulnerability of the strait in order to demonstrate the indispensability of his regime to the maintenance of the strait’s security with the assistance of the United States. The Iranian revolutionary regime seems to exaggerate the invulnerability of the...

      (pp. 240-262)

      The world’s oil heartland also happens to be the Shii heartland. Out of an estimated 750 million Muslims in the world, about 11 percent are Shia. More than half of them are Twelver or Imami Shia who live in the Persian Gulf region, as majorities of the citizen populations in Bahrain, Iran, and Iraq and as minorities in Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Iran is the single largest Shii Muslim–inhabited country in the world as well as in the Gulf region; 95 percent of its 40 million citizens are Shia. Iran also happens...

    • SOCIOPOLITICAL CHANGE IN THE GULF: A Climate for Terrorism?
      (pp. 263-284)

      In no other region of the world has the onslaught on American life, liberty, and property taken a greater toll in recent years than in the Middle East.¹ The region as a whole has become the global hotbed of terrorism. By the end of 1985, the Middle East accounted for 45 percent of the world’s terrorist attacks, some of which originated in the area but were completed in Europe.² The bulk of terrorist activities within the Middle East have been concentrated in Lebanon and the Gulf region. This essay focuses on the Gulf region, starting with a review of the...


      (pp. 287-306)

      Since Iraq invaded Kuwait on August 2, 1990, the international legal community has rightly condemned Iraq’s aggressive use of military force against its neighboring sovereign state of Kuwait. Considerable discussion has followed about appropriate legal consequences, including sanctions, reparations, and war-crimes trials.¹ By sharp contrast, similar legal attention remains glaringly absent regarding an equally flagrant case of aggressive Iraqi employment of military force, on September 22, 1980, against its neighboring sovereign state of Iran.

      International reconsideration of the outbreak of the Iran-Iraq War ought to have been kindled by a highly significant report prepared by Javier Perez de Cuellar, in...

    • IRAN’S HOSTAGE CRISIS: International Legitimacy Matters
      (pp. 307-316)

      A quarter-century ago revolutionary Iran took over the American Embassy in Tehran and held fifty-two Americans hostage for 444 days—a crisis that has cast a long shadow on Iranian foreign-policy behavior. A quarter-century later U.S. hostility toward Iran continues. Whatever else might be said to be fueling this hostility today, there is little doubt that it is rooted in the hostage crisis of 1979–81. For example, America’s current suspicion that Iran plans to go nuclear is based, above all else, on U.S. suspicion of Iran’s intentions. Iran claims that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, whereas the...


      (pp. 319-334)

      How does one try to explain Iran’s policy toward the Arab-Israeli conflict? This is not a rhetorical question. The presumption that the “real nature” of Iran’s behavior in respect to the Arab-Israeli conflict is enigmatic persists stubbornly. The so-called enigma is partly because of the paucity of information. Iran is hardly anxious to speak up on all the issues of the conflict under any circumstances. The rather cautious and often secretive approach of the Shah’s regime to the conflict is basically the result of a conscious and deliberate policy. It stems largely from a general desire to remain aloof from...

      (pp. 335-352)

      While the Bush administration includes Iran in its “axis of evil,” the Iranian people see this designation as a threat to Iran’s historical pro-democracy movement. Decades of mutual vilification between Iran and the United States predated President Bush’s moralistic identification of Iran as evil. The hostility between the two countries dates back to the Iranian Revolution of 1979.

      The revolution destroyed Mohammad Reza Shah’s regime, a longtime strategic surrogate of America in the Middle East, particularly in the oil-rich Persian Gulf. Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran, endorsed the seizure of the American Embassy and...

    (pp. 353-358)

    A better American understanding of Iran’s foreign-policy behavior is necessary because the United States has to deal with Iran, whether monarchical or revolutionary republic and whether the American administration is Republican or Democratic. The Obama administration has said no to the opponents of talks with Iran, and there is no doubt that any other administration will do the same, because it is in the national interest of the United States to do so. In the ancient wisdom of Sun Tzu, “Know your enemy.”

    But talking without adequate understanding is like diving without knowing how to swim. Among the many reasons...

  11. APPENDIX: The Role of Iran in the New Millennium—A View from the Outside
    (pp. 359-364)
  12. INDEX
    (pp. 365-384)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 385-388)