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Contesting Failures: US Narratives on the Iran Nuclear Deal
This article applies a method of narrative analysis to investigate the discursive contestation over the ‘Iran nuclear deal’ in the United States. Specifically, it explores the struggle in the US Congress between narratives constituting the deal as a US foreign policy success or failure. The article argues that foreign policy successes and failures are socially constructed through narratives and suggests how narrative analysis as a discourse analytical method can be employed to trace discursive contests about such constructions. Based on insights from literary studies and narratology, it shows that stories of failures and successes follow similar structures and include a number of key elements, including a particular setting; a negative/positive characterization of individual and collective decision-makers; and an emplotment of success or failure through the attribution of credit/blame and responsibility. The article foregrounds the importance of how stories are told as an explanation for the dominance or marginality of narratives in political discourse.

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