soft power

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade faces a $109million budget cut at the very time Kevin Rudd sees a more prominent role for Australia on the world stage. The cuts promise to undermine the Prime Minister's new "soft power" diplomatic strategy, proclaimed during his current world trip.

The New York Philharmonic's recent Pyongyang concert has garnered extensive international news coverage over the momentary piercing of North Korea's thick carapace. But rather than seeking as far as the Hermit Kingdom for evidence of a truly effective use of classical music as soft power, we'd arguably do better to look in our own back yard: Los Angeles to be precise, in the guise of the L.A. Philharmonic's next music director, Gustavo Dudamel. The extraordinary young conductor is the embodiment of Venezuela's one real soft power asset. The U.S.

Public diplomacy is no substitute for smart foreign policy, nor can it fix a myopic one. But miscalculations of both its power and place have left it a hobbled tool in our diplomatic arsenal.

Hopefully the newest designated chief of public diplomacy, Jim Glassman, understands this. His bona fides for the job are solid; but the challenges, unhappily, remain as distinct today as they did seven years ago under Charlotte Beers, the first Public Diplomacy chief of the Bush administration.

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