The Continuing Dominance of American Soft Power, Syria Edition

on July 14 | in Terrorism, War of Ideas

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It’s been a long summer for proponents of American hard power in the Middle East, as the conflict against ISIS grinds on in Fallujah, Ramadi and elsewhere. But the seductive pull of America’s soft power remains ever-powerful, pulling even our terrorist enemies into its orbit.

Don’t believe me? Here are five examples that prove otherwise:

Exhibit A: Omar al-Shishani, the Islamic State’s recently-deceased Minister of War. He might have hated Western infidels with the fury of a thousand burning suns, but he still thinks The North Face hats are pretty cool:


Exhibit B: Islamic State just released a scripted drama featuring a sensitive young millennial thinking about joining the group in Raqqa, Syria. But he loves his Abercrombie and Fitch:


Exhibit C: The Islamic State’s Ansar al-Khilifah Media released a video on July 12 entitled “I Am Not Content With The Life of Humiliation” featuring a fair amount of (staged) combat footage. Yet at least one of these fighters seem also content with wearing shirts that say “U.S. Army”:

not content

Exhibit D & E: Love of American brand names isn’t merely confined to the Islamic State’s side of the conflict. Iran’s Quds Force Commander Qassem Soleimani has multiple American brands in his wardrobe, including Tommy Hilfiger, from 2015:

Soleimani 2015 Tommy Hilfiger

And 5.11 Tactical. Here he is with the Iraqi Badr Organization chief Hadi al-Amiri, after their combined forces took Jawlala in Iraq from ISIS in early 2015:


So for those wondering about the decline of American power, fear not! We still stand astride the soft power world like a colossus.

Photo: Joseph Nye, By Chatham House, via Wikimedia Commons

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