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Comparative Grand StrategyA Framework and Cases$
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Thierry Balzacq, Peter Dombrowski, and Simon Reich

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780198840848

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198840848.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 19 October 2021



(p.192) 9 Iran
Comparative Grand Strategy

Thierry Balzacq

Wendy Ramadan-Alban

Oxford University Press

This chapter argues that Iran’s grand strategy has and is torn between three tensions: the prioritization of an Islamic identity versus attaining economic prosperity the use of an offensive or defensive military strategy and its self-conception as a revolutionary or “normal” state. Historically Iran has striven to reconcile these inherently ambivalent goals through the “principle of equilibrium” (tavãzon). This chapter demonstrates how tavãzon shapes Iran’s grand strategy. While these countervailing forces do account for some continuity in Iran’s strategy over time they can conversely result in abrupt changes in response to systemic shifts. Iran’s current strategic imperative is thus driven by three factors: the jostling internal power struggle between factions the economic imperatives chastened by sanctions and most proximately its hostile relations with Saudi Arabia and Israel. In this context Iranian policy elites have consolidated around a military strategy of asymmetric deterrence.

Keywords:   pivot, principle of equilibrium, Israel, Saudi Arabia, United States of America, asymmetric deterrence, nuclear weapon, factions, Iman’s line, Progressive line

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