Honors Theses

Date of Award

Spring 5-9-2020

Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis


Political Science

First Advisor

Ashleen Williams

Second Advisor

Curtis Wilkie

Third Advisor

John Winkle

Relational Format



The United States has long held the idea that Iran poses a threat to our interests as well as global stability, implying that Iran is irrational and makes decisions rooted purely in ideology. After creating an independent framework based on rational choice theory, descriptive decision theory, and the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran, I determined four possible ways to describe Iran’s foreign policy: rational-constitutional, irrational-constitutional, rational-unconstitutional, and irrational-unconstitutional. I then apply this framework to six cases which I have identified to be vital to understanding Iran’s foreign policy: Iraq, Israel, United States of America, China, the nuclear program, and proxy groups, and in doing so, I attempt to answer the question of to what extent does Iranian Foreign Policy reflect the goals outlined by the Iranian constitution ratified in 1979 (with its subsequent amendments); and how does a constitutional reading of foreign policy illuminate our understanding of the drivers of Iranian Foreign Policy? The following sub-questions will also be considered: Is an ideological foreign policy exclusive from a practical foreign policy? If Iran does not act within the goals of the Constitution, why not? In considering these cases, I found that Iran’s foreign policy is quite nuanced depending on the case at hand, with three cases being determined as rational-constitutional, two as irrational-constitutional, one as rational-unconstitutional, and zero as irrational-unconstitutional.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
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