The American Century Is Far From Over: A Review Essay

One of the ostensibly interminable debates about foreign policy is whether the United States is a declining power, or whether it has already retrogressed into a “has-been” superpower.  From the vantage point of this perspective, the issue of America’s decline is not yet complete. The advocates of this perspective appear open to the proposition that America’s waning can be reversed.[1]   However, the pessimist regard America’s decline as virtually complete and may even be irreversible.[2]   Needless to say, this perspective remains very much open to challenge.  In any event, the issue of America as a declining power is not only multidimensional, but it opens up spirited and engaging discussions among its exponents and opponents.

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Do US-Iran Strategic Interactions Have a Promising Future?

The realignment of forces in the different regions of the globe at times start with some significant events whose import remains a matter of speculation among strategic thinkers until it eventually becomes a major development.  On other occasions, that force realignment springs from minor events that suddenly transform into a major force for change.  Applying this observation to the Middle East, current strategic interactions between the United States and Iran belong in the former category.  Even though it is only in its initial stages, it may have a great future, especially if Washington and Tehran can agree on a mutually acceptable nuclear deal.  The Arab Awakening, which started in December 2010 and later swept three long-standing dictators out of power, belongs in the latter category.  Even though that potentially revolutionary change seems to have fizzled out since the 2013 restoration of the military dictatorship in Egypt, the sudden outburst of another wave of Arab Awakening–especially in the wake of what is happening in Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen–remains one likely possibility.

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US-Iran’s Nuclear Conflict and the Exercise of Arab/Iranian Realpolitik

The partisan circus in the US Congress involving Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s March 3, 2015 speech condemning US-Iran nuclear negotiations is over, while the assessment phase of that speech over the prospects of a nuclear deal continues.  If Netanyahu wanted to minimize, if not kill, the chances of a deal that is acceptable to the United States and Iran, he may have succeeded, at least in making its emergence difficult.  What is left to be seen is how resolute American and Iranian negotiators will be about concluding a nuclear deal.

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Obama’s Paradoxical Choices: Negotiating with Iran and Handling Bibi

Relations between the United States and Israel have been hitting a new low, especially after the Speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner, issued an invitation to Prime Minister Benyamin (Bibi) Netanyahu to address a joint session of the US Congress.  Such invitations to foreign leaders, as a matter of long-standing protocol, are cleared by the White House before they are issued.  But Boehner’s decision to snub the White House was just another indication of the deteriorating relations between the Congressional Republican leadership and the Democratic administration.  And since President Barack Obama’s foreign policy has been increasingly coming under Republican attack, Boehner decided to take on the President by using the hot-button issue of the US-Iran ongoing nuclear negotiations.[1]  That is also an issue on which Netanyahu is betting that he will improve his chances for reelection on May 17, 2015.  Realizing the potential payoffs, Netanyahu promptly accepted the invitation to deliver his speech on March 3, 2015.

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