Back in mid January the Iranian president Ahmadinejad made a visit to the Latin American countries Nicaragua, Cuba, Ecuador and Venezuela in a show of public diplomacy. This trip was not only for securing business and security relationships, but it also sends a message to the United States and the West that Iran is alive, well and functioning. The appearance of having allies so close to US soil was surely on the agenda of the Iranian president on his most recent visit to the region. Crippling sanctions imposed by the US and the EU have left Iran with but little choice but to seek and ensure economic stability and security for their country in other parts of the world. However, the latest sanctions are no ordinary sanctions since they also come with the threat force with them. Israel, most notably has let their intentions be known that the “smart” sanctions are only a precursor to what would eventually be inevitable conflict. Obviously this act of coercion towards Iran from western powers leaves them looking for new strategies in the international community. Arguably western powers could say that even this visit to Latin America is only compounding Iranian provocations towards the west, in an escalation of aggressive behaviour towards the west. It seems that if you are with the west, then Iran is deliberately escalating the situation by building a nuclear bomb. If you are Iran, you are trying to provide nuclear energy for you’re country. It is a situation which is extremely delicate and probably both sides of the argument have valid and invalid points. However, in my opinion the US, Israel and Iran are each engaging in this situation from very realist perspectives. Each country is acting in it’s own self interest, America for Iran’s oil, Israel for it’s sovereignty and Iran for its nuclear ambitions.
It appears that Iran’s foreign policy is built upon a realist beliefs using a pluralist model of decision making. However, Iran’s pluralist model of decision making likely does not resemble that of liberal states. I would imagine Iran has several small contingents of elites and or ministers who would have their input taken into account. As opposed to having a larger umbrella of groups to contend with such as multinational corporations, interest groups, opposition parties, and of course a massive bureaucracy. In this way, it seems as though even though a pluralist model exists, it is simply in place to appease certain elites or for consultation. So it may not be so simple to define after all, Iran in fact, actually appears to be acting based on a Rational model of decision making. Iran’s leader has identified the pressing issues, made clear cut decisions based on what he and his country needs, and is selecting, for now, the diplomatic routes which seem to make the most sense at this point in time. Now with the Syrian conflict in full out civil war it will be interesting to see who supports whom and for which reasons. Over the next few months it will be interesting to observe the shifts in foreign policy decision making as even the slightest alteration in policy could mean the difference between a violent or peaceful outcome. Let’s hope for the latter.