America still has much soft power from the sales of weapons to Iraq, the need of Iraqi counterterrorism forces to work with U.S. Special Forces. Then there's the issue of America helping Iraq with investment, getting foreign companies in, and the issue of ending Iraq's Chapter Seven status at the UN...
The war... diminished America’s soft power and credibility globally...One of the ways in which the US has left Iraq a better place is that it has nudged the country towards democracy...The major adverse effect of the US withdrawal could be renewed fighting among warring ethnic groups.
America lost its soft power once it used its hard power against Iraq. The global standing of the US suffered tremendously as the war dragged on, with hundreds of thousands of civilian casualties and the revelation of atrocities committed by American troops against civilians and prisoners.
To be sure, Iran wields a considerable amount of what is known in foreign policy circles as "soft power" in Iraq. Iran sends millions of Shiite pilgrims to Iraq each year to visit the shrines of Hussein and others. Iran builds hospitals, and provides water and electricity.
The American Corner...was assembled by the American Embassy here and is an example, writ small, of the sort of cultural programs — “soft power,” in the diplomatic nomenclature — that the State Department will emphasize after the last troops leave. Even in this arena of cultural and educational links, United States diplomats say they hope to gain leverage over Iran.
As part of our new relationship with Iraq, for the first time in more than 20 years the United States has returned to Iraq’s largest annual trade fair. Over 80 American corporations, universities, and travel and tourism organizations will showcase their products and services to Iraqi businesses and people for the purpose of building greater trade ties.
State’s grander ambitions for a more robust presence...had to be scaled back as well. I’m concerned — no, convinced — that we’re setting the State Department up for failure. Its presence in Iraq will be just big enough to be a big target, yet not big enough to have much influence or ability to respond to the fast-changing environment.