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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
  • Author: Dorothée Fouchaux
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: The following National Security Outlook is the ninth in AEI's Hard Power series, a project of the Marilyn Ware Center for Security Studies. In it, Dorothée Fouchaux examines the state of French forces and France's most recent effort to prioritize its strategic goals and square them with its military capabilities.1 Certainly since Charles de Gaulle's presidency, France has maintained a tradition of thinking strategically for itself-often, admittedly, to the aggravation of its allies. This tradition remains strong and, if anything, has been reinforced in recent years by the sense that the United States is pivoting away from Europe and would like to reduce its footprint in Europe's troubled periphery. With its latest defense white paper, Paris has laid out a program to maintain its "strategic autonomy" through a combination of nuclear deterrence, enhanced intelligence efforts, and discrete power-projection capabilities. But France faces flat defense budgets, the increased cost of its military interventions in Africa, and prospects that budget shortfalls will not be overcome by the sale of public shares of national defense companies or export sales of military hardware. Consequently, some doubt that an even smaller French force will have sufficient resources to address existing problems in readiness and needed capabilities while sustaining a defense research-anddevelopment base sufficient to keep future French forces armed with advanced equipment. In short, France really is living on the strategic edge.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Defense Policy
  • Political Geography: Europe, France
  • Author: Michael Rubin
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Since Azerbaijan regained its independence in 1991, it has been only the world's second Shi'ite-led state after Iran. Azerbaijan respects separation of mosque and state, and despite pressure from its neighbors, remains independent from political domination. Given its strategic importance, safeguarding the country's independence remains a US priority. And the threat from Iranian meddling is particularly acute. From Tehran's perspective, the combination of Azerbaijan's pre-19th-century Iranian past, modern Azerbaijan's embrace of secularism, and its relative economic success challenge Iran's legitimacy. As Iranian authorities have sought to undermine and destabilize Azerbaijan through political, clerical, charitable, and media channels, Azerbaijan's counterstrategy has been both restrained and effective.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Islam, Sovereignty, Governance
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Derek M. Scissors
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: New data published in the American Enterprise Institute-Heritage Foundation China Global Investment Tracker show that China continues to invest heavily around the world. Outward investment excluding bonds stood at $85 billion in 2013 and is likely to reach $100 billion annually by 2015. Energy, metals, and real estate are the prime targets. The United States in particular received a record of more than $14 billion in Chinese investment in 2013. Although China has shown a pattern of focusing on one region for a time then moving on to the next, the United States could prove to be a viable long-term investment location. The economic benefits of this investment flow are notable, but US policymakers (and those in other countries) should consider national security, the treatment of state-owned enterprises, and reciprocity when deciding to encourage or limit future Chinese investment.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Development, Economics, Emerging Markets, International Trade and Finance, Foreign Direct Investment, Sovereign Wealth Funds
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Asia