Media companies including the New York Times, Twitter and the Huffington Post lost control of some of their websites after hackers supporting the Syrian government breached the Australian internet company that manages many major site addresses. The Syrian Electronic Army, a hacker group that has previously attacked media organisations that it considers hostile to the government of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, claimed credit for the Twitter and Huffington Post hacks in a series of Twitter messages late on Tuesday.
As a committed advocate for soft power and public diplomacy, I look for ways other than military force to address even the most pernicious international behavior. Usually, talking is better than fighting and wise use of political power can make unnecessary the reliance on “kinetic action,” as military thinkers refer to combat.
But there are times when a state’s actions are so outrageous and have so little chance of being altered by peaceful means that soft power measures should be set aside. On occasion, blowing things up is essential.
The United States on Wednesday denounced as "repulsive" an Instagram site by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, saying it did not reflect the reality of the civil war. The embattled Syrian leader's office took to the social media site to post pictures that include Assad greeting supporters and his wife Asma comforting the injured.
In 1994, Bashar al-Assad was appointed chairman of the Syrian Computer Society. It was the only official title he would hold before landing the country’s top job, president, in 2000, but the appointment seemed to speak volumes about the direction in which his country was headed. This was six months into President Bill Clinton’s first term, in the same year that Tony Blair was elected as the leader of Britain’s Labour Party. Modernization was all the rage.
Despite having reportedly provided training grounds for armed Syrian opposition forces... Turkey claims to have maintained its overall soft power policy vis-à-vis Syria. Throughout the 17-month uprising in Syria, Turkey provided humanitarian assistance to refugees, diplomatic support to the opposition and helped escalate pressures on the President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
China’s ability to get what it wants through attraction and persuasion rests on a number of factors: its culture (witness the Confucius Institutes it promotes); its values (particularly a successful growth model); and its foreign policies (for example, the pledge not to intervene in the internal affairs of other countries).
At the end of the day, Turkey risks being told to mind its own business and to first put its house in order. The more it wants to be a soft power, the more it is going to be told by the international community to apply the same standards with its Kurd minority.
In addition, Turkey has stepped up its use of soft power by attempting to influence the political processes of nations that have recently undergone “Arab Spring” revolutions, namely Tunisia and Egypt.