May 25, 2015
CISSM Research Associate Ebrahim Mohseni received his doctoral degree at the May 22, 2015 School of Public Policy graduation. Upon the completion of his doctoral dissertation in late 2014, Mohseni was awarded the 2014 Yamamoto-Scheffelin Dissertation Prize, for his dissertation, “When Coercion Backfires: The Limits of Coercive Diplomacy in Iran.” The dissertation argued that not only has coercive diplomacy failed to persuade Iran to accept constraints on its fuel cycle activities beyond its treaty and safeguard obligations, but it has also triggered a series of reactions that have strengthened Iran’s determination to advance, enhance, and expand its nuclear fuel cycle program. These findings corroborate the conclusions of most scholars that have studied coercive diplomacy. Coercive diplomacy is a very difficult strategy to employ successfully. It has a tendency to backfire and make matters worse if utilized for the wrong reasons, in unconducive circumstances, and/or through ill-chosen measures and processes. For this very reason, not only does the strategy have a very low success rate, particularly when dealing with high policy issues, but it also prolongs conflicts and makes their peaceful resolution more difficult and, hence, less likely. Since completing his dissertation, Mohseni has been a Research Associate at CISSM and has simultaneously held a position at the University of Tehran, where he is a Lecturer on the Faculty of World Studies and a Senior Analyst at the University of Tehran Center for Public Opinion Research. Mohseni is the third recipient of the Yamamoto-Scheffelin Dissertation Prize. Past award winners include CISSM research scholars Charles Harry and Jaganath Sankaran.