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Title: The Iran policy decision-making of the United States during the Obama Administration : a poliheuristic analysis
Author: Chembayil-Rajan, Sneha
ISNI:       0000 0004 5990 1110
Awarding Body: Durham University
Current Institution: Durham University
Date of Award: 2016
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This thesis deals with one of the most intriguing political and security issues of this decade, namely the Iran policy decision-making of the United States during the Obama administration, specifically from January 2009 to July 2014. The primary objective of this thesis is to address two questions: (1) why did the Obama administration choose to pursue the specific policy instruments of sanctions, sabotage and diplomacy, when dealing with Iran? (2) What were the variables considered by the decision-makers, when making the Iran policy decisions of the United States? (2.a) How, if at all, did the make-up of those variables change over time? (2.b) How, if at all, did the relative significance of variables change between different decision-making episodes? By drawing upon the theoretical framework of poliheuristic theory, this thesis provides a nuanced analysis of the Iran policy decision-making of the United States, by discussing three in-depth case studies dealing with three different Iran policy decisions. This thesis argues that, the United States had very few policy options when dealing with Iran. Even so, until Hassan Rouhani was elected as the President of Iran, the United States had made no commitment to pursue diplomacy with Iran to resolve the Iranian nuclear issue, because the Obama administration was more concerned with fighting domestic political battles, and appeasing America's international allies. However, since the election of President Rouhani, the Obama administration gave diplomacy a chance, by resisting pressure from domestic opponents and international allies who tried to derail diplomacy, because during this period the Obama administration had to deal with the security crisis in the Middle East, and cooperation with Iran was essential to cope with the turmoil in the region. These findings have profound implications for poliheuristic theory, because it reinforces the claim that decision-makers are not primarily concerned with utility maximisation on the same topic as the decision. By providing a better understanding of the Iran policy making of the United States, this thesis contributes to the literature on US foreign policy, as well as Ph theory, through the use of important and interesting case studies.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available