Iran’s way of thinking and approach to international issues can be analyzed as a special model and style. From historical viewpoint, Iran’s name, which is a combination of “er” and “en” means a noble people. Iran’s civilizational, cultural, religious, political, and ethnic backdrop in addition to its Islamic and Iranian as well as Shia identity and the country’s historical role in global politics has led to creation of a special form of sense of responsibility in the country’s strategic thinking.
The sense of responsibility, as a complement to the sense of belonging, and the need to pay attention to newretrenchments has created a trilateral move in the strategic thinking of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s foreign policy. The aforesaid three feelings, which are essential to analyzing Iran’s foreign policy and diplomatic apparatus, can reveal remarkable realities in the field of international politics.
Various types of practical manifestations of the sense of responsibility in Iran’s foreign policy can be seen since the beginning of the third millennium in the form of the country’s reactions to various global crises. Reactions shown by Iran to the war in Afghanistan in 2001, the war in Iraq in 2003, the 2008 Israeli war on the Gaza Strip, the Arab Spring developments, the crisis in Syria (2011-2016), and other crises in Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon, Afghanistan, and Palestine, clearly indicate the powerful impact that the sense of responsibility toward neighboring countries as well as other regional and international actors has had on Iran’s foreign policy. Therefore, in line with this policy and in order to realize its desirable regional balance, during the past decade and based on its fair and expedient approaches, Iran has activated its influence and bargaining tools at global and regional levels in the fields global and regional diplomacy.
It must not be forgotten that the sense of responsibility in Iran’s foreign policy, which is based on Iran’s supported discourses, is the opposite of the moves made and irresponsible measures taken by many political actors in the neighborhood of Iran as well as its regional rivals. Irresponsible behavior of these rivals and their links to transregional actors in the past few decades have led to production and reproduction of such extremist ideologies as Wahhabism, al-Qaeda-ism, Daeshism, and Salafism.
The regional role played by Iran throughout history, including in the ancient times, middle ages, and modern times, and even in the currently globalized world, has played a remarkable role in the evolution and development and dynamism of the sense of responsibility in the strategic thinking of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s foreign policy. As a result, the sense of responsibility in Iran’s foreign policy is the main key to understanding of stabilizing developments in the future outlook of the Middle East. Under these conditions, any change, management or stability in the Middle East and Southwest Asia will have a close relation with objective realization of parameters of Iran’s sense of responsibility as well as irresponsible behavior of many major countries located in Iran’s immediate neighborhood.
The acme of international, historical and model-like effects of the realization of the sense of responsibility in Iran’s foreign policy was achievement of the unique and prominent nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), on July 14, 2015. Adoption of this document was materialization of the Iran exception and Iranian worldview as a successful model for global diplomacy in early years of the third millennium.
The sense of responsibility in Iran’s foreign policy will be considered by major actors as a shadow option in future processes of international peace and security and also in the forthcoming restructuring of the Middle East. According to ideas of the world-famous German philosopher, Hegel (1770-1831), one of the constructive elements of the Iranian identity in the area of global politics is commitment to the sense of responsibility in its smart leadership and the related fields of foreign policy and diplomacy. Therefore, one may be able to claim that in view of the current chaotic situation with regard to various global crises, the comparative advantage of the sense of responsibility in Iran’s foreign policy will remain as one of the main driving, and yet hidden, forces determining future stability or instability of the Middle East and West Asia.
It is from this viewpoint that the emerging and future world order as well as destruction, restriction or repeated regulation of the Middle East’s new structure is seen by Iran’s diplomatic apparatus in the light of the sense of responsibility in the country’s foreign policy. All evidence shows that global political processes in 2016 have been overcome by such important crises as refugees, terrorism, immigration, failed states, networked actors and extremist ideologies. The opportunity created by feeling responsibility in Iran’s foreign policy will remain intact in light of these considerations as a dynamic force affecting various crises as well as overt and covert actors, and will play an effective role in creating new global and regional retrenchments beyond 2016.
This article was written by Behzad Khoshandam for Iran Review on Oct 24, 2016. Behzad Khoshandam is Ph.D. in International Relations & Expert on International Issues.