International Relations: Constructivism and US-Iran Relations
Conversely, realist and constructivist scholars suggest that Iran's alleged pursuit of nuclear weapons is .. both U.S.-Iran relations and the Iranian nuclear crisis. This chapter traces back the steps of the constructivist approach that forms the Foreign Policy Middle East Islamic Republic International Relation Iranian Regime Great Satan Vs. the Mad Mullahs: How the United States and Iran Demonize. This study uses the constructivist approach to analyse the US-Iran nuclear standoff and the .. , US-Iran relations degenerated further.
These actions are hardly those of a power seeking to safeguard its own territory. Thus, this paper asserts that, given the absence of immediate regional aggressors and adversaries, Iranian long-term interests in the region have proceeded under an expansionist agenda.
First, the nuclear program has allowed Iran to parlay international opposition into awakening a defiant national pride. Iranian aggrandizement is a policy with precedents: At the domestic level then, nuclearization has been, to a significant degree, midwifed by concepts of Iranian national pride and Islamist anti-Westernism.
Constructivism & US-Iran Relations – ir world information
However, the emphasis of domestic constructivist narratives emphasizing Iranian agency finds its counterpart at the international level: Iranian bitterness and victimization has been the product of long ill-treatment by Western powers. However, two arguments can be raised in defense of realism, that assert the nuclear program has served Iran well in prosecuting its ideologically expanded foreign policy horizons.
With fuel consumption in Iran doubling in the past two years Iran claims to need nuclear satisfaction of its energy demand. The example of the political concessions Russia exacted from its Georgian dependents indicates that Iran cannot possibly become strategically secure, while setting store by Russian energy goodwill.
Thus, the Iranians seem assured that robust nuclear powers are necessary to realizing regional preeminence. Nevertheless, the realities of Iranian nuclear policy belie the realist argument proposing a nuclear antidote for energy insecurity and economic sanctions.
For one, economic isolation and strategic insecurity has been the legacy of Iranian nuclear posturing. Further, the prospect of nuclear aggression assures prolonged US projection of troops along the Iranian periphery. In sum, Iran has made a strategic mess for itself by flirting with nuclear weaponization.
This conclusion is further borne out by the rhetoric of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has threatened Israel with nuclear aggression.
- Constructing Constructivist Change in the Iranian-U.S. Relationship
- Constructivism & US-Iran Relations
Clearly, domestic political shifts altered policy. With the Khatami government emphasizing peaceable nuclear development for energy purposes, Iran repaired relations between itself and Saudi Arabia, and reduced tensions with Lebanon and Jordan .
In conclusion, ideological motives far outweigh strategic concerns in motivating the Iranian nuclear program, and its rhetoric concerning same. Realist models that place a premium on external forces and strategic insecurity do not, on the whole, stand up to scrutiny in explaining Iranian actions.
Fears of US malevolence have been much heightened by the culture of Iranian victimization, and the pervasive sense of Western aggression that has characterized US-Iranian relations. Further, with nuclearization serving as a symbol of national pride, the nuclear program owes popular support to constructivist, rather than strategic appeal. Finally, with nuclear decision-making power concentrated in the hand of hard-liners and religious elites, the nuclear program allows the regime to enhance its self-image as an anti-Western and Islamic power.
A Journal of Social Justice 18, no. Following the end of the Cold War however, when state security took precedence over alliance security, emerging states began to procure some form of biological, chemical or nuclear weapons.
Acquiring such weapons might make states more secure, but it also makes them more cautious of each other. In an article written inWaltz states that it would be in the best interest for all parties involved in the debate to allow Iran to possess nuclear weapons.
Defending his premise, Waltz states that: History shows that when countries acquire the bomb, they feel increasingly vulnerable and become acutely aware that their nuclear weapons make them a potential target in the eyes of major powers.
This awareness discourages nuclear states from bold and aggressive action. Maoist China, for example, became much less bellicose after acquiring nuclear weapons inand India and Pakistan have both become more cautious since going nuclear. There is little reason to believe Iran would break this mould.
Although an agreement was reached on the nuclear programme, the covenant has not been signed and ratified, and events may ensue which can undo this agreement. As Waltz asserts: In this way, the current tensions are best viewed not as the early stages of a relatively recent Iranian nuclear crisis but rather as the final stages of a 7 decades-long Middle East nuclear crisis that will end only when a balance of military power is restored.
Offensive realism Offensive realism is a much more competitive form of structural realism, whereby the best technique for states to ensure their survival is to maximise their power as a means for defending itself when it comes under attack. When engaging in relations with a hostile state, anticipating the worst outcome — possibly an armed attack — would allow the first state to prepare a counter- attack strategy and reduce its vulnerability.
A crucial element in the theory of offensive realism is the concept of balance of power. Before a state, especially a great power, takes any offensive action, it must contemplate how its action will affect the balance of power, and how other states will react to this action Mearsheimer, More often than not, if the benefits of a certain action do not compensate for the risks, states will refrain from pursuing that action.
This definition can be applied to the US, and to a lesser degree, Iran. The latter state is gaining prominence in the Middle East to rival the power enjoyed by Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey — all three of whom are allies of the United States.
It can however, portend to the future of the liaison between the states with both the US and Iran threatening the other with some form of retaliation should diplomacy as a means fail.
The Iranian Nuclear Program: Realist vs. Constructivist Models
The United States Congress promised a new round of sanctions on Iranian oil exports Dyer and Bozorgmehr, should Iran defect, while the Iranian ambassador to Moscow, Seyed Mahmoud-Reza Sajjadi has explicitly stated that his nation has the capabilities to carry out military strikes against US interests RT, Granted the current state of the US-Iran relationship has not escalated to offensive realism, if the effects of the nuclear agreement were to turn unpleasant, with Iran or the US reneging on their respective settlement, offensive realism could be the trajectory.
Defensive realism Contradicting both Waltz and Mearsheimer, defensive realism postulates that the international structure, however anarchic, does not create a tendency for states to compete. Instead, under a vast range of conditions, the best option for states would be to cooperate with each other Glaser, Of the four main branches of realism, defensive realism is the most vocal advocate of the benefits of cooperation. It can generate security amongst the states if they agree to policies such as arms control and unilateral restraint Glaser, Cooperation can also steer states towards greater political relations, further increasing their own security, if both the 9 states reach a mutual agreement.
The present dilemma for many states possessing or acquiring nuclear technology is summarised by Thomas Ayoob, Constructivism Realists argue that states are defined by the power and capabilities they possess and are constantly competing with other states; constructivists on the other hand believe that ideas, identities and interactions prompt states to behave in a certain manner, and that security can be socially constructed Agius, Constructivism contextualises state behaviour with relation to the actions, beliefs, and interests of its actors, surmising that these factors not only have an impact on the state itself, but also how the state will behave in the international platform ibid.
Unlike realism, where subsections can be defined and rationalised independently when applying the US-Iran relationship, constructivism requires a thorough understanding of the ideas, norms, and identities of a state because these three facets are interspersed. A leading proponent of constructivist theory, Alexander Wendt argues the importance of state identity which gives actors their interests, which in turn provide insight into how the actors will act and the policies they will pursue.
The United States has forged different social relationships with Israel and the United Kingdom than with Iran and North Korea; the basis of this social relationship is the underlying factor for why they are less concerned with nuclear weapons possessed by the former group. The material forces argued by Wendt, which include power and interest, are central to understanding the realist argument as they see states as rational actors who pursue their interests from a purely materialistic standpoint.
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Constructivism however, is primarily concerned with how these interests are obtained and developed through ideas and culture Agius, Culture and identity For realists, who view states as units seeking security, the anarchic system in which they exist will determine their wants and the measures necessary for acquiring such wants. From their perspective, identity is either given or an unnecessary factor relating to security Agius, Constructivists on the other hand, argue that identity is acquired through interaction between states through intersubjective meanings as stated by Hopf ; this will determine whether states are friendly or hostile towards each other.
Christine Agius highlights the evolving relationship between Germany and France to attest to this concept; throughout most of history these two states have been foes, but after the Second World War, through 12 cooperation and European integration, the nature of their relationship has changed drastically.
The recent nuclear agreement between Iran and the US — the first time the two states have cooperated together since the hostage crisis Charbonneau, Hafezi, and Mohammed, — can theoretically be seen as a catalyst which shifts the dynamics of their relationship. For this momentum to be retained, both states must henceforth cooperate with each other without cheating or defecting otherwise they will revert to mistrusting each other.
Understanding the culture and beliefs of other states is vital in all levels of engagement; it is generally frowned upon for Muslim men and women to shake hands with members of the opposite sex, and if a non-Muslim were not aware of this practice, they might be affronted when their offer to shake hands is refuted by a Muslim of the opposite sex.
Culture can affect how a state perceives their security because it is an aspect of identity formation; after the revolution inIran has been an Islamic state, bearing the ideologies and contexts which are associated with such states. To elaborate, the Islamic Revolution occurred as a challenge to the pro-Western, secular regime of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, and the current socio-political orientation of Iran today still renounces the elements of modern Western culture.
This repudiation, based on cultural ideals with no common 13 ground, was perceived as an impediment to productive diplomacy between Iran and the US Diamond, This has been a point of contention with the US and other states and was only resolved with the recent nuclear agreement Charbonneau, Hafezi, and Mohammed, Norms, especially on an international platform, can play a decisive role in determining which behaviour or practice is or should be universally accepted, and which ought to be abandoned.
Dynamic in nature, norms evolve with time, reflecting contemporary issues, e. A constructivist perspective will claim that the international structure is determined by the universal distribution of ideas; shared understanding about acceptable behaviour — whether it pertains to ideas, beliefs, or expectations — provides this structure with order and stability Finnemore and Sikkink, Since the events in Hiroshima and Nagasaki inand 14 especially after the end of the Cold War, nuclear weapons have increasingly been regarded negatively by states.
This shift in attitude can primarily be attributed to the breakdown of the USSR, when the threat of a nuclear outbreak ceased to be imminent. However Israel, along with Pakistan, India, and North Korea, are four known states who have defied the governance of international norms by negating adherence to the NPT, and developing or procuring nuclear weapons Diamond, A key observation can be made in this situation: An argument can be raised about the supposed double standards held by the international community with regards to the NPT.