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After the nuclear deal: Iran’s failed foreign policy

  • George Ignatieff Theatre 15 Devonshire Place Toronto, ON (map)

Speaker: Thomas Juneau, University of Ottawa

Sponsors: The Bill Graham Centre for Contemporary International History, Canadian Arab Institute

The Islamic Republic of Iran faced a favorable regional environment after 2001, especially in the wake of the US invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. Iran attempted to exploit this window of opportunity by assertively seeking to expand its interests throughout the Middle East. It fell short, however, of fulfilling its longstanding ambition of becoming the dominant power in the Persian Gulf and a leading power in the broader Middle East. Today, Iran is not a fast-expanding regional hegemon, as one often hears, but is rather a mid-sized regional power frustrated at not reaching its ambitions.

In this presentation, Juneau will discuss his recent book, Squandered Opportunity (Stanford University Press), in which he explores the causes and consequences of Iran’s failed and costly policies. He argues that even though Iran has the potential to emerge as a dominant regional player, the brittle nature of its power and the intervention of specific domestic factors have caused its foreign policy to deviate, sometimes significantly, from optimal outcomes.

Thomas Juneau is an assistant professor at the University of Ottawa’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs. His research focuses mostly on the Middle East, in particular on Iran, Yemen, Syria and US foreign policy in the region. He is also interested in Canadian foreign and defence policy and in analytical methods. He is the author of Squandered Opportunity: Neoclassical realism and Iranian foreign policy (Stanford University Press, 2015), co-editor of a forthcoming book on strategic analysis in support of international policy-making, and co-editor of Iranian Foreign Policy since 2001: Alone in the world (Routledge, 2013). He has published many articles and book chapters on the Middle East, international relations theories and pedagogical methods, notably in International Studies Perspectives, Middle East Policy and Orbis. Prior to joining the University of Ottawa, he worked for the Department of National Defence from 2003 to 2014, chiefly as a strategic analyst covering the Middle East. He was also a policy officer and an assistant to the deputy minister.