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Title: By Proxy: Proxy Powers in Iranian Foreign Policy
Authors: Rosengard, Michael
Advisors: Yarhi-Milo, Keren
Department: Woodrow Wilson School
Class Year: 2016
Abstract: Syria, Hezbollah, and Hamas have a history of violence toward Israel. The Islamic Republic of Iran supports their opposition to Israel and uses each as a proxy power. Nonetheless, all the wars, terrorism, violence, and threats directed at Israel by Iran and its proxies have ultimately failed to fundamentally disrupt the rhythm of life in Israel. As a result of this failure—and assuming that Iran’s proxy support serves a purpose in Iran’s foreign policy calculus—a set of questions arises: Why does Iran continue to support these proxies if they continue to fail? What is the purpose of Iran’s proxy support in Iran’s foreign policy calculus? More generally, what does Iran’s proxy support indicate about Iran’s other foreign policy decisions? Against the backdrop of these overarching questions, this study explores the compatibility of Iran’s proxy support of Syria, Hezbollah, and Hamas with Iran’s foreign policy and thus, what it reflects about Iran’s overall foreign policy strategy. In its research, this study uses numerous primary sources—government documents, public speeches, public statements, newspaper articles, social media accounts—scholarly books, scholarly journal articles, academic lectures, and opinion editorials. This study approaches the compatibility of Iran’s proxy support from the perspective of three prominent schools of thought regarding Iran’s foreign policy—The pragmatic school of thought; (2) The regional hegemony school of thought; and (3) The ideological school of thought—with each chapter focusing on Iran’s proxy support within the context of one of the three schools of thought. Specifically, the core of each chapter explores in depth the various ways in which Iran’s proxy support bolsters—and thus, shows its compatibility with—the foreign policy school of thought being analyzed in the chapter This study concludes that Iran’s proxy support is compatible with both the pragmatic and regional hegemony schools of thought, but is only partially compatible with the ideological school of thought. Furthermore, this study identifies a possible relationship between Iran’s proxy support and Iran’s “willingness to build nuclear weapons,” specifically that Iran’s proxy support plays a role in Iran’s foreign policy strategy to “build nuclear weapons.” Last, this study puts forth four policy recommendations for the United States that seek to diminish Iran’s proxy support and hinder Iran’s proxies’ illicit and violent activities.
Extent: 149 pages
Type of Material: Princeton University Senior Theses
Language: en_US
Appears in Collections:Woodrow Wilson School, 1929-2017

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