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Transformational Diplomacy: US Tactics for Change in the Islamic Republic of Iran, 2004-2006

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Transformational diplomacy aims to alter — in whole or in part — elements of a foreign government’s structure, policies or laws, while traditional methods of diplomacy have more concrete political aims. Transformational diplomacy no longer works merely for the sake of bettering international relations through practical cooperative aims. Although coercion and diplomacy do not appear to be logically related, transformational diplomacy is essentially synonymous with coercive diplomacy. Without coercion, at least to some degree, the policies that aim for transformation would not succeed. The primary goal of transformational diplomacy is the enactment of change in a target country. However, the actual implementation methods may vary considerably, leading to divergent and varying consequences. A transformational strategy may cover an entire spectrum — from methods relating to cultural diplomacy to the violent overthrow of governments. Arguing that US policy towards Iran from 2004-2006 was an example of transformational diplomacy, this article presents an analysis of the general policy formulation that existed behind the US rhetoric during those years — with specific analysis of the role of the US Congress in contrast to the President. This article is based on US analyses, standpoints and perceptions of the Iranian government and political system.


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