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A neoclassical realist analysis of American ‘dual containment’ policy in the Persian Gulf: 1991-2001

Edwards, Alex (2013) A neoclassical realist analysis of American ‘dual containment’ policy in the Persian Gulf: 1991-2001. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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This thesis examines the American policy of ‘dual containment’: the assumption by the US of a predominant role in the security system of the Persian Gulf in the 1990s, necessitating the simultaneous ‘containment’ of both Iran and Iraq. American policy towards Iran receives special attention thanks to its more unusual aspects, including the vehemence of American attempts to isolate it. While other scholars have sought to explore the empirical aspects of this policy, this thesis seeks to place it within an overarching theoretical framework derived from neoclassical realism (NCR). Additionally, the thesis integrates insights drawn from Foreign Policy Analysis (FPA) to explain the impact of domestic variables on the formation of American policy towards Iran and Iraq during this era. In terms of domestic factors, the thesis identifies three key ‘intervening variables’ and their role in the adoption and evolution of dual containment: perceptions of threat on the part of policymakers, domestic political structures, and the operation of policy coalitions. In terms of the external, the role of the idiosyncratic ‘tripolar’ dynamics of the Persian Gulf region in shaping American policy is examined, as is the longstanding American interest in the Persian Gulf as an area of important national interest and key importance in the global economy, which endured into the 1990s despite the end of the Cold War. The thesis concludes that US policy towards Iran and Iraq was shaped by the intervening variables it identifies and examines. It strongly reflected the perceptions held by American policymakers of American power, and also of Iran and Iraq as ‘rogue’ or ‘outlaw’ states, and the measures perceived as necessary to advance Arab-Israeli peace. Moreover, it also reflected the influence of domestic interest groups and Congressional activism in the realm of foreign policy.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2013 The Author
Library of Congress subject classification: J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
J Political Science > JZ International relations
Sets: Departments > International Relations
Supervisor: Dalacoura, Katerina

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