Iran and the US soft power crisis

BY: Dr. Yosouf Seifi*

Iran and the US soft power crisis

PEJOURNAL – Post-Trump America is facing a soft power crisis in the field of foreign policy. The crisis has weakened US power in the world and has noticeably questioned the legitimacy of the country’s international policies and actions.

This is a serious issue for Washington, and the need to overcome it is simply harvestable from Biden’s positions and his promise to return “Good America.” The role of the United States and the JCPOA in the future of Washington’s policy of promoting its soft power raises the question of whether Iran should accompany the United States to advance this policy.

The transfer of power in the United States follows a controversial election in a security environment, and the new government, which is clearly more internationally fortunate, has taken over. Observers believe that Trump’s legacy is an American full of various troubles that Biden and his Cabinet must face.

One of the most important problems is the decline of U.S. soft power in the world, especially among the country’s main allies. The dilemma that is more than anything, is the product of unilateralism in foreign policy in the last 4 years. An approach that was vigorously pursued under the nationalist slogan “America First” by Trump and his like-minded people, and recently voted for by more than 70 million Americans.

The idea of a rival, transnationalism and of course gained more votes and is now considered a kind of declared policy of the new government. An approach that prescribes a strategy of multilateralism and greater responsibility for global issues and the interests of allies.

Multilateralism against unilateralism has become particularly important in U.S. foreign policy after the end of the Cold War and can be analyzed in connection with the dream of the “American world” of the 1990s. Both strategies are the answer to the question of how can the U.S. maintain and promote its privileged position in the international system after the collapse of the eastern Bloc?

Conservatives and politicians like Trump believe that America alone has the power to advance its own interests and does not need to accompany others. There are those who believe that the United States faces significant restrictions on pursuing its interests without any amount of legitimacy with other international actors.

The limitations that have become more and more self-imposed these days after a period of unilateralism in foreign policy. Under Trump, many U.S. policies were criticized by many countries, including close allies, and therefore lacked the support of others.

The U.S. failed to take effective action for what it calls the world’s nuclear proliferation crisis. North Korea continues to develop its nuclear program, and maximum pressure against the Islamic Republic of Iran also led to a reduction in Tehran’s JCPOA commitments. The policy of maximum pressure against Iran was supposed to put Tehran among the two paths of compromise or regime change. A dual that was, not only not formed, but the Islamic republic of Iran was able to continue its regional presence and conventional weapons program.

Apart from Iran, other competing U.S. regional powers such as Russia and China have increased their regional influence and weapons deterrence. America’s main allies, such as European governments and countries like South Korea and Japan, feel less secure than before, and the desire for military self-sufficiency among them has increased.

Other important projects such as the Deal of the Century in Palestine and the economic war with China have also not achieved their goals. The economic war against China, regardless of its damage to the U.S. economy, has not affected Beijing’s policies other than it has led to confrontations like this. The deal of the century, which was supposed to bring about the myth of peace in occupied Palestine, has ended with the normalization of relations between several Arab states with Tel Aviv and a surreal map of the two countries’ plan in the territory.

In the past four years, the United States has unilaterally withdrawn from promising international treaties such as the JCPOA and the Paris Treaty. Many bilateral agreements between the U.S. and other countries were canceled by Washington, and the president did not express open insults or threats to other governments and nations — even U.S. friends — in his official positions.

The president was also accused at home of adopting racist attitudes, and his administration’s policies have led to an increase in the social gap in America and the rise of radical right groups. The United States has experienced more isolation than any other period in the context of Trump’s policies internationally, and at the domestic level has also reflected a fragmented and shaky society. Declining American popularity in various polls such as Gallup is among the consequences of this situation.

The last time U.S. soft power was in almost this situation is after the Iraq War in 2003, and if we go back, it has faced this issue at various levels of U.S. foreign policy, and the extent of its soft power has always been a sinusoidal move. What is important is to maintain the balance between the use of two hard and soft powers to achieve goals.

Naturally, the imbalance of this balance limits the United States as a superpower with restrictions on the use of its capabilities, and it seems impossible to maintain it permanently, given the country’s diverse interests around the world. That’s why in the history of U.S. foreign policy over the past decades, we face a permanent shift between different aspects of power. What happens after the balance between the two hard and soft powers is disrupted, while also linked to political developments inside the United States.

Joe Biden’s rise to the promise of a good America is another strategic shift of this. On his first day in power, he returned the United States to the Paris Environmental Treaty and promised to return to the nuclear treaty with Iran. The new U.S. administration is also set to repair damaged relations with allies, end the construction of a border wall with Mexico, and in a word distance itself from nationalist unilateralism in favor of transnational multilateralism. A development that, although in some respects, can be considered an opportunity for others, has previously stemmed from a strategic need in U.S. foreign policy and is supposed to save the country from the bottleneck it is in.

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with the United State of Iran and relations between the two countries is a major focus of Washington’s new approach. The JCPOA is the first multilateral agreement signed within the framework of a policy to ban the dissemination of nuclear weapons and enjoys a relative balance by accepting the right to nuclear technology for Iran.

Reviving the JCPOA brings significant soft power to America. A move that alone is capable of bringing much of America’s international legitimacy back to the country. From this point of view, and from the stand of the interests of the United States, a return to the JCPOA or possible negotiations with the United States gives Washington a second chance to more quickly repair its soft power resources and end its restrictions on the broader use of hardware power.

Trump’s end in America is also accompanied by the end of an important part of his policies. In foreign policy, we face a strategic shift from unilateralism to multilateralism. This strategic development is trying to strengthen America’s weakened soft power with the aim of balancing the dual dimensions of power.

The success of Biden and his administration in achieving this goal is not only an important achievement for Democrats within the United States, but also an increase in the effectiveness of U.S. power in the international arena. Iran’s return to its JCPOA commitments or negotiations with the U.S. side is a valuable concession on the path to increasing U.S. power.

* Journalist and researcher of international relations