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The Masks of the Political God by Luca Ozzano

The Role of Religion in Foreign Policy Decision Making: A Comparative Analysis of the Influence of Judaism and Islam in the Foreign Policy of Menachem Begin’s Israel 1977 – 1984 and Ayatollah Khomeini’s Iran 1979 – 1988

Magdalena Delgado
The London School of Economics & Political Science
Magdalena Delgado
The London School of Economics & Political Science

The paper examines the influence of religion (as a set of personal beliefs and national identity) on the foreign policy of Menachem Begin’s Israel and Ayatollah Khomeini’s Iran. In doing so, it awards special attention to leadership agency, but conducts its analysis from a pluralist perspective which references the institutional, domestic and international contexts that may have facilitated or hindered religion’s influence. The paper, which is largely developed from primary material obtained through fieldwork in Israel and Iran, argues that religion takes on ahistorical and non-essentialised roles that are developed according to the specific context at hand. Thus, for such seemingly different states as Israel and Iran, the relationship between religion and foreign policy is a similarly pragmatic one, but one that should not necessarily be understood in terms of instrumentalism. The paper explains its findings with reference to psychological-cognitive approaches to FPA and classical realism.
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