Carrots and Sticks

Because the upcoming negotiations between the United States and Iran – which begin on November 29 – may revolve around a singular quid pro quo, namely, the removal of all sanctions for compliance with limitations on Iran’s nuclear program – the quid pro quo may be the stumbling block in the way of a deal because of the individuals who play a major role in the negotiations on the American side. America’s Secretary of State, Tony Blinken – who is responsible for overseeing diplomacy – as well as America’s Secretary of Treasury, Janet Yellin – who is responsible for sanctions policy – have pro-Israel leanings. Although they may conceal their pro-Israel leanings, Blinken and Yellin may play a role in obstructing a deal with Iran because the deal revolves around this particular quid pro quo, and this quid pro quo is not favorable to Israel. Part of the irrationality, lack of science, and lack of strategy on the part of the United States is that its foreign policy is hostage to a foreign country. Would a rational actor allow its foreign policy to be held hostage to a foreign country?

Moreover, even if a deal is struck between the United States and Iran while Biden is in power, the American election cycle may play a role in dissuading Iran from dropping its decision-making logic and strategy and thus making a deal with the United States. If a Republican is elected president in 2024 – which is highly likely – America may withdraw yet again from a deal with Iran. Thus, there is no point for Iran to enter into a deal with the United States if it is less than optimal. And even if the deal is optimal, the chance that a new president will withdraw from the deal given that there is no enforcement mechanism for deals in the international system may dissuade Iran from entering into a deal with the United States.

If the United States defects from the deal down the road while Iran agrees to cooperate, it would amount to a loss for Iran yet again. Thus, the chance of the United States defecting from a deal – which is highly likely – in addition to the fact that a deal is highly unlikely because of the individuals on the American side who oversee diplomacy and sanctions policy, the chance of failure during these upcoming negotiations are higher than the chance of success. Optimism has to be balanced with pragmatism and realism when assessing the dynamics involved in these negotiations.

Plus, the American administration that is in charge of the negotiations with Iran – namely, the Biden Administration – is an administration with questionable legitimacy and a mandate that is quickly eroding at home. One of the two major harbingers for what the outcome of the 2024 presidential elections could be has come to pass, namely, the Virginia gubernatorial election. The second harbinger will be the 2022 midterm elections. And in the Virginia gubernatorial election, a Republican has won.

More than half – if not the majority of Americans – do not believe that Joe Biden is the duly elected president of the United States. Thus, the likelihood that the party in charge of the presidency can flip in 2024 is very high, and as a result, American domestic politics will loom large over the negotiations between the United States and Iran, which begin on November 29. Nevertheless, these negotiations and talks between the United States and Iran will be the source of immense interest and intrigue for observers and analysts of international affairs to say the least.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s