The world states are continually facing the task of developing mutually beneficial relations with other actors of international relations. Close cooperation and mutual understanding are necessary for solving significant regional and world problems. However, the vision of the world can differ significantly among different countries and influence possible cooperation. Henry Kissinger described how Iran, the country with the majority of actors’ vision, and its policies have changed during history. Despite Iran’s categorical statements about the rivalry with the United States and different views on the world order, the diplomat expresses the hope of establishing peaceful relations.
Kissinger identifies three main historical periods for Iran, during which the state had various ideas about the world order and foreign policy. During their imperial period, then called Persia, the rulers successfully ruled distant provinces, helped the people master other countries’ cultures and acquired new skills from neighbors. At that time, not only invasion but also cultural achievements were significant for the Persians. Even after the Arab conquests, despite the adoption of a new religion – Islam, the Persians preserved their language and cultural heritage with it. Persian pride and exaltation have been preserved for a long time, but external activities were more typical of countries in the Westphalian system. The government sought to act on the basis of state interests – this was the second period.
In the second half of the twentieth century, a revolution took place in Iran. Initially, according to Western observers, aimed at justice and democracy, after being led by Ayatollah Khomeini, it became a coup d’état. He and his follower Khamenei are not guided by national interests but believe that the spiritual world order should develop based on Islam. According to their vision, the overthrow of the current order, which implies ideological expansion and victory over other actors in international relations, in particular the influential United States, will lead to the establishment of a new world. Moreover, such changes will lead to Mahdi’s return – the overlord and Savior of the world. Such a jihadist mood and intention to win the world religious struggle determines the third period of Iranian politics.
Such a drastic change of policy affected Iran’s relations with other countries. First of all, the paradox appeared – opposing the Westphalian world order, the government continues to enjoy its achievements – it is a member of the United Nations Organization, receives diplomatic status. Moreover, while maintaining visible relations with various countries, Iran finances terrorist groups operating in their territories.
The country’s main rival, according to Ayatollah, is the United States, but America does not abandon attempts to negotiate with Iran. In particular, their relations are determined by nuclear weapons’ problems, the manufacture and proliferation of which the United States is trying to stop. The Western side fears the possible consequences of the development of this sphere, and for Iran, this is a means to achieve a new order. However, Kissinger says that it is possible to reach an understanding based on the principles of non-interference and that it will be beneficial for America to resume friendly relations with Iran.
Thus, Iran, during its existence, had several different visions of the world order. Firstly, being an empire, the country appreciated cultural achievements and tried to apply other countries’ experiences. Secondly, the government acted on the basis of state interests as most countries of the Westphalian system. Thirdly, after the coup, a new clerical system was established, following which the country wanted to form a new world order. To do this, Iran needs nuclear weapons, and their creation is a problem in relations with other countries, especially the United States. Nevertheless, there is hope for a change in the current state of affairs and establishing a new type of relationship.