Thesis Title

Fault Lines: Ideology, Pragmatism, and Geopolitics in the Islamic Republic of Iran

Date of Graduation

Spring 2006


Master of Science in Defense and Strategic Studies


Defense and Strategic Studies

Committee Chair

C. Walton


The Islamic Republic of Iran was founded upon revolutionary interpretation of Shi’a Islam. This ideology, first articulated and implemented by Ayatollah Ruhullah al-Musavi Khomeini, served as the animating force behind much of Iran’s behavior in the 1980s. With Khomeini’s death in 1989, Iran was faced with an important decision or to pursue his revolutionary vision of a Muslim world transformed by Iran’s Islamic government, or to become more pragmatic in its dealing with other states. This tension between pragmatism and ideology has created several difficult challenges for Iran as it attempts to expand its sphere of influence and establish itself as a regional power in the Middle East, and throughout the Islamic ummah.


Iran, geopolitics, ethnic nationalism, Islam, Shi'a, terrorism, Persian Gulf, Caspian Sea Region, velayat al-faqih, pragmatism

Subject Categories

Defense and Security Studies


© Travis M. Middleton