US Army School for Advanced Military Studies Fort Leavenworth United States
Iran was once Americas staunchest Middle Eastern ally until the overthrow of the Shah during the Iranian Revolution more than thirty years ago. Current relations are confrontational with an atmosphere of animosity, mistrust, and misunderstanding. While opinions may differ as to what actually caused the poor relations, most Americans see the Iranian Hostage crisis, where fifty-two Americans were taken from the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and held for four hundred and forty-four days, as the inception of the battle against radical Islam. However, since 2009 the Obama administrations dual-track policy, which includes engagement and pressure, combining the hard and soft power elements of smart power, provide a breakthrough in relations between Iran and the U.S. This application of smart power, synchronized effects, and sustainable application of collective strengths of all the instruments of national power diplomatic, informational, military, and economic is critical to the administrations dual-track policy and is the key factor in achieving a nuclear deal with Iran. Most estimates assess Iran will be able to produce a crude nuclear weapon within a one year, but the current six-month deal, negotiated on 24 November 2013 in Geneva, provides an opportunity that has not existed in thirty years. If negotiations are to succeed, concessions must be made from both sides, but more importantly, Iran must live up to its international obligations. If not, Iran faces increased international isolation or the potential for military strikes against its nuclear program. The application of U.S. smart power provides a structure to have a dialogue built on verification, good faith, and even trust. Therefore, it allows the current negotiations the ability to test the possibility and feasibility of the current nuclear deal along with the potential for a comprehensive long-term deal. The alternative is to engage in conflict, which has many unintended consequences.