The Iranian Revolution

We have in reality, then, no choice but to . . . overthrow all treacherous, corrupt, oppressive, and criminal regimes.

Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini

Nobody is ever ready for a revolution.

Gary Sick, White House aide for Iran, 1977-81

Like the French and Russian revolutions, the Islamic upheaval in Iran confirms that revolutions raise the level of security competition between states. By altering the regional balance of power, the revolution in Iran both threatened other states and created opportunities for them. It also triggered spirals of hostility between the new regime and several other countries, which raised the level of threat even further. The fear that the revolution would spread made the danger seem greater, and lingering opposition within Iran fed the new regime's fears of foreign plots and gave its rivals the impression that it would be easy to overturn. Foreign responses to the revolution were also affected by uncertainty and misinformation, which exacerbated each side's perceptions of threat.

The hopes and fears that accompanied the revolution turned out to be greatly exaggerated. Although the Iranian example did encourage fundamentalists in other countries, it was not the sole (or even the most important) cause of the Islamic resurgence, and Iranian efforts to export the revolution to other countries have been largely unsuccessful. Foreign beliefs that the new regime would collapse turned out to be equally misguided; the Islamic Republic has survived diplomatic isolation, economic difficulties, a costly war, and internal conflicts that have endured for over fifteen years. Again we find that revolutions are both hard to spread and hard to reverse.

Finally, the Iranian Revolution offers only modest support for neorealist claims about the socializing effects of the international system. As in the Soviet case, key members of the revolutionary elite sought to moderate Iranian diplomacy in order to improve its international position. Their efforts were erratic and incomplete, however, for several reasons: the evidence in


Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this page

Cited page

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Revolution and War


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 365

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?