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Marine Corps University: The Strategic Culture of Iran

Author: Michael Eisenstadt
August 2011


In this monograph, author Michael Einsenstadt discusses the strategic culture of Iran and its impact on the country's approach to strategy and war. Through an examination of Iran's “way of war,” Eisenstadt offers specific suggestions for the United States to better engage or deal with Iran.

The Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI) is an unconventional adversary that requires unconventional approaches in planning, strategy and policy. These approaches must take into account the country's sophisticated culture, the regime's religious-ideological orientation, and the country's modern military history. And they must account for its unique approach to statecraft, strategy, and the use of force.

Iran's political system is characterized by parallel structures that are the locus of multiple power centers. These consist of both traditional and revolutionary institutions: the President and Supreme Leader; the Majles and Guardian Council; the Judiciary and Special Clerical Courts; and the regular military and the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC). Due to this organizational complexity and the importance of informal influence networks, the functioning of the regime is often opaque—even to many of its members.

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