My purpose is to present an account of Iranian foreign policy since Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's death in 1989; starting from the transition from the eight-year war with Iraq to the dramatic events of the Kuwait War and its regional ramifications, the account will examine the various efforts of the post-Khomeini leadership -- political, military, and ideological -- to deal with and adjust to the astonishing breakup of the Soviet Union, the passage of Russian communism, and the sudden emergence of several new neighbors for Iran. The book is not, however, a catalogue of events but primarily an analysis of Iranian foreign policy since the Iran-Iraq and the Kuwait Wars. I hope to contribute to a greater understanding of the problems that currently confront Iran in the international arena, particularly the two fundamental issues upon whose resolution the survival of Iran depends: the nature of Iran's strategy in the Persian Gulf region and the future of the Central Asia-Caucasus.
The emphasis of my analysis is both empirical and theoretical, which stems from my impression that our understanding of Iranian foreign policy is theoretically undernourished. As the Islamic Republic moves into the second decade of its existence, it has become increasingly clear that there is a dire need to address the uniqueness and peculiarities of the regime's "Islamic foreign policy" with sharper and more adequate theoretical tools than those already offered in the literature on Iran's foreign policy. The failure to address this need is a grave obstacle to our grasp of the dynamic of foreign policymaking in Iran.
The momentous events of the Kuwait War and the post-Cold War era have significantly altered the external environment in which Iran must operate, and, henceforth, the need to reexamine the foreign policy needs and priorities of the Iranian system with respect to the new regional and global realities constitutes the top priority of the country's foreign policymakers and analysts. Tackling this entails an adequate response to the myriad old and new challenges that face Iran. Such a response can be easily hampered if it is theoretically ill-informed and shows a distaste for theory and, worse, if it is conducted through the lenses of ideology that often paralyze foreign policy analysis because of the substitution of axiomatic generalizations and pseudo-analyses for a cool and level-headed inquiry.