American politics is a hard sell in much of the Middle East and especially in Syria, which was branded as a state sponsor of terrorism and foe of Israel. But American culture here has been strong for a long time. This year American singers performed at Damascus's Capital of Arab Culture festival and was well received. Washington this time around was absent. Syrians believe the U.S. is ceding the cultural battle to other countries. This arts professor and organizer of the festival says France and Britain have been much more active at the festival. Many argue the U.S. needs to spend a lot more promoting culture overseas. This professor says the U.S. should follow its own example from the 1950s and send cultural ambassadors, like it sent jazz stars back then. The equivalent now, he says, are hip hop stars. This analyst says it never seems to be enough. She agrees that young people in the Middle East should be a sought after cross section of the population, but you simply can't control when politics will get in the way. Another constant factor here is security.