Iran: From Cultural Diplomacy to Soft War

Edward Wastnidge, a lecturer in politics and international studies at the Open University in the UK, has published at new article. His piece, “The Modalities of Iranian Soft Power: From Cultural Diplomacy to Soft War,” appeared in a special issue of Politics, titled The Soft Power of Hard States, released in winter, 2015. The author, noting that Iran is both a theocratic and a republican state, discusses the interplay between power, politics and public diplomacy in the country’s strategies for and strategic use of soft power abroad. Given this duality of Iranian leadership, Wastnidge takes a two-part approach to Iran’s use of public diplomacy. First, he assesses the country’s presidential-led cultural initiatives to promote Iran’s public image overseas, including President Hassan Rouhani's social media-based "Meet Iran" campaign. Second, he analyzes the Supreme Leader’s use of international broadcasting to maintain a “’soft war’ between Iran and the West.” Wastnidge concludes that because Iranian soft power is enacted through a range of different actors and channels, its use on the global stage can produce “differing strategic, and at times defensive, narratives.”  

The full article is available here.

Photo by Chris Marchant | CC BY 2.0