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  • Author: Danielle Pletka, Frederick W. Kagan, J. Matthew McInnis
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: A review of the soft-power strategies of both the United States and the Islamic Republic of Iran in the Middle East and Afghanistan makes clear a disturbing fact: Tehran has a coherent, if sometimes ineffective strategy to advance its aims in the Middle East and around the world. The United States does not. This project began with two tour d'horizon reviews of Iranian activities throughout areas Iran has, by its actions, defined as its sphere of influence. From the Persian Gulf through the Levant and into neighboring Afghanistan, the Islamic Republic has consistently invested in soft- and hard-power activities designed not only to extend its own influence but also to limit both American and hostile Arab aims. And while the latter part of the Ahmadinejad administration saw waning rewards for Tehran's efforts-a result more of the growing Sunni-Shia divide in the Middle East than of changes in strategy-the continued existence of a coherent Iranian strategy to dominate or destabilize the region should not be ignored. This report, the culmination of a process of both examining Iranian actions and surveying American policy, policy responses, and soft-power strategies in the region, focuses on the US side of the equation. Despite the Obama administration's commitment to replace hard power with smart power, what the United States pursues in the Middle East is a set of incoherent, ineffective, and increasingly irrelevant policies.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, Islam, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Iran, Central Asia, Middle East
  • Author: Frederick W. Kagan
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Iran's national security decision-making process is not remotely as opaque as it sometimes appears. The recent crisis in Iraq and the nuclear negotiations in Geneva have opened a fascinating window into the efforts of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to bring rival groups within his government together behind a single set of policies. He appears to have been remarkably successful in mediating tensions between President Hassan Rouhani and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps senior leaders. They have come together, at least for the moment, behind a coherent set of strategies for dealing with a number of thorny problems in Iraq, the nuclear negotiations, and even economic reforms. It remains to be seen if these accommodations will survive the current crisis, of course, but the success of Khamenei's efforts so far is impressive.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Nuclear Weapons, Politics, Governance, Nuclear Power
  • Political Geography: Iran