The Dynamics of Iran's
and the Islamic Republic
The ascendence of an Islamic polity in Iran, whose leaders constantly invoke Islam as the frame of reference for their external behavior, represents an interesting empirical case study for the theorists of international relations. One of the central issues of debate in the analysis of Islamic Iran's foreign policy has been the role and importance of religious beliefs and values in determining the regime's foreign policy. 1 Is Iran's "Islamic foreign policy" always conducted according to religious- inspired parameters, and, if so, do these reflect a different type of diplomacy? Do these parameters operate alone or in conjunction with other non-religious parameters, and, if so, how are they blended together? Are Islamic values and parameters becoming increasingly empty of their determining content and, instead, merely symbolic? Do policymakers use religion as a camouflage for their hidden views, pretending that their policies are quite in accordance with religion when they are not?
We may look to the literature on foreign policy for clues to these questions. Indeed, one of the outstanding idée-fixe in the field of comparative foreign policy has been the desire to explain scientifically the role and influence of culture, belief, and ideology in foreign policy decision-making. 2 The earlier insistence, by the proponents of realism such as Morgenthau, that foreign policy is a function of "national interests" wherein ideology plays little or no significant determining role, is giving way to increasingly complex notions of how prior beliefs, perceptions, images, and cognitive "maps" play a key role in all stages of the foreign policy decision-making process. 3 The idea that cognition is