‘Bomb’, ‘sanction’, or ‘engage’? : the theory/political practice of the Iranian nuclear crisis from the American perspective (1998-2014)
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This thesis argues that the debate over the relationship between Theory and political practice has reached a dead-end in IR. Most scholars taking part in this debate based their claims on meta-theoretical assumptions, which explains the inability to settle the debate. This logic not only discouraged empirical enquiries, but also undermined reflexivity. Instead, this thesis calls for the translation of these meta-theoretical assumptions into a methodology and into methods to produce empirical knowledge by which to explore the relationships between Theory and political practice on specific issues. To this end, the thesis investigates relationships between American IR academic discourse and senior officials discourse and their effects on US foreign policy towards Iran between 1998 and 2014. The thesis provides a typology to map and to assess the gaps in the debate over the relationship between Theory and political practice in IR. This typology is composed of four ideal-types: Theory to political practice, Theory vs. political practice, Theory as political practice and practice to political practice. The thesis also translates meta-theoretical assumptions drawn from Wittgenstein and Foucault into a methodology to generate empirical knowledge on specific relationships between Theory and political practice. This methodology enables to trace an evolving system of thoughts expressed in the Theory and political practice of the Iranian nuclear crisis and to expose what this system does to US society and foreign policy. Three elements compose this system: the certainty of democratic teleology, the certainty of uncertainty and the certainty of smart power. The thesis claims that IR knowledge production on Iran mostly acted as symbolic knowledge morphing uncertainties about Iran into certainties for US governmental power. Only then could senior officials produce a judgement against Iran and implement disciplinary measures in the form of sanctions, covert actions, and military threats.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
Embargo Date: Print and electronic copy restricted until 18th December 2019
Embargo Reason: Thesis restricted in accordance with University regulations
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