The Use of Force, the Reflexive Resort to Economic Sanctions, and the Trials of America’s Hegemonic Mindset
Monday March 17, 2014
As negotiations toward a “final” nuclear deal between the P5+1 and Iran continue, it is important to consider to what extent the world might be witnessing a fundamental change in American foreign policy. We are inclined to think that the Obama administration would not have gone as far down the diplomatic road with Iran as it has in the absence of President Obama’s self-inflicted debacle over his declared intention to attack Syria after chemical weapons were used there in August 2013. This episode drove home—to the Obama administration as well as to most of the rest of the world—that the United States can no longer credibly threaten to use military force in the Middle East for hegemonic purposes.
After the American public so resoundingly rebuffed Obama’s call for U.S. military action, his administration was compelled to conclude that starting down the diplomatic road with Iran was politically less costly than pushing for more sanctions and continuing to insist that the “military option” was still “on the table.”
But can the Obama administration really go all the way to a comprehensive realignment of relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran—and, in the process, show that the United States can shift proactively from a counterproductive drive to dominate the Middle East to serious engagement with all important regional powers, and not just slink out of region in defeat?