The P5+1 nations are the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council (China, France, Russia, U.K., and U.S.), plus Germany.
These nations represent an enormous economic and military bloc, creating over one-half of the world's GDP and representing over sixty-percent of the world's military expenditures. The P5 nations also control most of the world's nuclear weapons.
It has been through the framework of the P5+1 nations that President Obama has tried to negotiate a 10-year nonproliferation treaty with Iran. While great strides were made in early negotiations, the deal is on the brink of falling apart as the deadline approaches for the deal to go into effect.
While this could be mindless saber-rattling on the part of Iran, it could also be a legitimate strategy if Iran is attempting to capitalize on the growing disapproval toward America within the P5+1 nations.
A Pew Research Center study, released June 23, shows that America's global image is largely popular worldwide, but is significantly lowering in half of the P5+1 nations.
The American handling of the crisis in the Ukraine has significantly increased Russia's unfavorable views of the U.S.--at a record high of 81 percent. This is also seen as one of the root causes of Germany's increasing unfavorable views -- up 10 percentage points in just the past four years.
China is split evenly between favorable and unfavorable, a setback from a once mostly favorable opinion. This mixed opinion is attributed to positive advancements in trade, but also negative foreign policy views due to U.S. intervention in the disputed regions of the South China Sea.
It's not all bad news, with France and the U.K. still holding favorable views toward the U.S. The U.K. is holding steady at nearly two-thirds favorable opinion, while the French, at nearly three-fourths favorable opinion, have sharply increased their favorable opinion over the past decade.
Competing Objectives of the P5+1 Nations
While the P5+1 nations have worked together to craft a nonproliferation treaty with Iran, they still have different and competing objectives. If Iran is able to manipulate these differences against the P5+1 nations, they might just come out on top.
The U.S. stands with ally Israel in the opinion that a nuclear Iran would create a new Middle Eastern arms race and would destabilize the entire region.France, Germany, and the U.K. have largely the same views, but distance themselves from Israel in the area of foreign policy. But these European countries are also suffering from war-weariness in the Middle East and don't want another direct conflict forcing their hand.
Russia stands to gain the most from a weaponized Iran. As the primary source of hardware and know-how, this represents a significant amount of foreign trade to the struggling Russian economy. Russia and China stand to gain the most economically from sanctions being lifted against Iran from direct trade, placing Russia in a catch-22.
China wants a stable Middle East as it continues to build an unbroken chain of economic and military treaties from China to the Mediterranean Sea -- and is prepared to "buy-off" -- through massive trade and economic development spending -- anything that threatens this goal.
The fact that China and Russia would benefit greatly from the sanctions being lifted gives Iran a powerful bargaining chip -- and part of their most recent demands is the immediate, not gradual, lifting of sanctions.
America Losing Its Clout in the Middle East
With both war-weariness at home and the overall lack of faith from our allies in our Middle East strategies, America is losing substantial clout in the Middle East.
China has signaled the desire to take a much stronger role, both militarily and economically, in the Middle East -- further eroding American dominance.
Even Saudi Arabia, a long-time ally and stable government in the region, is preparing for the contingency of having to stand alone against its increasingly violent neighbors -- potentially sparking the very nuclear arms race that the P5+1 is currently attempting to avoid with its nonproliferation treaty with Iran.
Because of our lack of popularity and clout in diplomacy, with some crafty negotiations the Iranian government might get exactly what they want from the P5+1 nations.
Any failure of the P5+1 plan will be a political heyday for the Republican Party in 2016, whose membership largely wanted a treaty with Iran exclusively on "our" terms.
Considering the political ruckus they created with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu's address to Congress and then the questionable congressional letter sent to the Iranian government, many Republicans are almost certainly going to make the most of this as it unfolds.
And while they are sure to score political points in the short-term, the long-term problem remains: we are slowly but surely losing our political and economic dominance worldwide.