Document Type : Research Paper
Professor, Faculty of Law & Political Science, University of Tehran, Iran
A PhD Candidate in Political Science, Faculty of Law & Political Science, University of Tehran, Iran
The development challenges of Iran in the years after the victory of the Islamic Revolution are related to two fundamental issues: First, Iran is trying to gain an advantageous economic, political and strategic position in the region far more than its allocated share in the international division of labor. Such an approach challenges the balance of power in the global economic order and the western-dominated world. Second, Iran has decided to follow a political path in opposition to the structure, institutions and norms of the international system because it considers the current system to be unjust and untenable. Historical experience has shown that the global capitalist system has worked against the actors which have attempted to oppose and undermine its foundations. Therefore, the main obstacle to Iran's development in the post-revolution era has been the non-compromising orientation of Iran's foreign policy. The behavioral pattern of Iran (as an agent)’s interactions with the structure of the international system has worked against its development plans.
The main purpose of this article is to answer two questions: 1. How has Iran interacted with the international system since 1979? 2. What are the consequences of the confrontational agent-structure interaction which have characterized Iran’s foreign relations during 1979-2021 time period? 3. To what extent has this type of interaction with the international system affected Iran’s development? In the research hypothesis, the authors assert that confrontational agent-structure interaction between Iran and the international system has adversely affected Iran’s development. Using Baskar’s theory of critical realism, the nature of Iran’s domestic system (e.g., the nature of its political elites and their worldviews, type of political system, and foreign policy orientation) as well as Iran’s interactions with the components of the international system (i.e., structure, institutions and norms) are discussed. Then, the implications of such interactions are analyzed by the use of a qualitative content analysis of documents and texts of speeches and comments made by key Iranian decisionmakers. The results indicate the negative impact of the ideological inconsistency and contradiction between Iran’s domestic agents and their interaction with the structure, institution and normative dimensions of the international system; and this has in turn led to the slow-down of the country’s development.