Document Type : Research Paper


Assistant Professor of Specialized Department of Islamic Revolution, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran


As a theoretical treatise, the present article brings to light the applicability of constructivism to the study of think tanks as ideational agents actively participating in the construction of ideational structures that constitute American identity, interests, and policies. It is argued that when discussing think tanks’ production of expertise and policy advice on U.S. relations with the Muslim world, American exceptionalism and Orientalism operate as two interconnected ideational structures influencing the process. Based on a constructivist framework, an investigation into the role of think tanks in U.S. foreign policy should not begin at the final stage of policy formation; rather, it is necessary to look into how think tanks influence the process of policy making at the ideational level. As such, the characteristics of U.S. foreign policy toward the Muslim world will remain unchanged as long as there is an ideational commitment to the creed of American exceptionalism; that is to say, as long as American exceptionalism constitutes American identity, American interest, and thus American foreign policy behavior toward the Muslim world. Think tanks, as the special focal points at the intersection of the political realm, the academia, and the media, serve as the hubs of American exceptionalism and Orientalism. As long as this dual creed is continually reproduced in the think tank world, it is logical to conclude that no change is in sight with regard to U.S. foreign policy and American unilateral interventionism in the Muslim world. A break with American exceptionalism and Orientalism in the think tank world, in turn, would signal the beginning of a new era in the operation of American foreign policy.


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