Iranian Soft Power in the Region and Beyond
Soft power is the term originally coined by historian Joseph Nye to describe influence gained by “co-opting” people, or shaping their preferences and values. This can be done through cultural or commercial outreach, and also by government policies.
Tehran’s soft power is especially effective among those who identify themselves as oppressed in one way or another.
- One obvious group which sees itself as oppressed is the Palestinians. Through its support for Hamas and its anti-Western rhetoric, Tehran has become identified as the unconditional defender of the Palestinians. This earns the Islamic Republic a certain cache with Muslims worldwide who are sympathetic to the Palestinian cause, and contributes to its image as a beacon for pan-Islamic interests.
- Tehran cultivates its reputation as friend of the underdog, appealing even to non-Muslim groups in the developing world.
- Iran’s leaders cultivate this image in many ways, including all-expense paid trips for African and Asian dignitaries to conferences in Iran celebrating the example of the Revolution.
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