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The making of U.S. policy with Iran, 2001-2016: the construction and reassessment of strategic animosity

Abstract : This dissertation demonstrates the role of representations of the figure of the “enemy” in the making of U.S. policy with Iran from 2001 to 2016, within a constructivist theoretical framework that considers representations and political interests to be social constructions. This work draws on research conducted in Washington, D.C., that included 95 semi-structured interviews, as well as the collection and analysis of declassified documents. After a review of the literature on Foreign Policy Analysis (FPA), U.S.-Iran relations, and constructivist approaches to foreign policy, the dissertation defines a typology of actors involved U.S. Iran policy during the period in question, including the executive and legislative branches as well as the public sphere. We then discuss the factors that contributed to the construction of representations of Iran, and define three ideal-types of the Iranian enemy: the “existential enemy,” the “technical-strategic adversary,” and the “Other.” We also take into account the role of the quality and quantity of information about Iran available to actors, as well as the importance of outside expertise. The second part of the dissertation first looks at the evolution of representations of Iran during the George W. Bush administration, as well as the impact that the interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq had on these representations; then, we look at the use of representations of Iran during the Obama administration, as well as the partisan divide about Iran that became more apparent during the conclusion of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Lastly, we discuss the role of representations during the P5+1 negotiations themselves.
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Submitted on : Thursday, April 7, 2022 - 10:53:24 AM
Last modification on : Friday, April 8, 2022 - 3:32:48 AM

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Catharine Damron. The making of U.S. policy with Iran, 2001-2016: the construction and reassessment of strategic animosity. Political science. Institut d'études politiques de Paris, 2021. English. ⟨NNT : 2021IEPP0042⟩. ⟨tel-03633692⟩

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