Foreign Affairs is axing a $5-million program that funds Canadian studies abroad even though the department was told two years ago the program generates $70-million a year for the country’s economy.
Then there's public diplomacy. Have we abandoned this completely? What we used to have was a fairly feeble attempt at a public diplomacy function, with some funding for cultural events and expos (which limp along) complemented by plans for some marginally more rigorous programs which were disbanded before they really started (like the ill-fated 'Australia on the world stage' program)
Two weeks ago the House of Commons foreign affairs select committee warned that cuts of almost £40 million to the Foreign Office would lead to a "diminution of the UK's influence and soft power", leaving it with a budget smaller than that of Kent County Council.
In what could only be described as a complete pasting, Professor Judith Sloan has called for the axing of Australia's international television broadcaster, the Australia Network, dubbing it 'repetitive, pointless tosh'. Scrapping the service would save taxpayers millions of dollars, Sloan argues, largely based on what she saw of the service during a recent trip around Asia.
Don’t say the wheels of government always spin slowly. When there is an agenda at work, they can move with considerable speed, and in the deconstruction of American overseas broadcasting, things are moving fast.
EU embassies all over the world, reflecting the soft power of the EU, which, despite the ongoing euro crisis, is still very much building up the EU brand as a global superpower. The idea of a separate foreign policy for any of the 27 member states has now been made almost completely irrelevant in the context of a common, tightly coordinated EU position.
Now, as senior Republican on a key appropriations panel for foreign operations, Graham is trying to stave off funding cuts for a softer kind of power exercised by diplomats, civilian training corps and U.S. contractors who help other governments battle AIDS, modernize schools, instruct police, clean water wells and enhance their armed forces.
“In a world where soft power is so important, the United States is counterproductively compromising its position in a forum that really matters,” said Ronald Koven, who monitors Unesco for the World Press Freedom Committee, an American nongovernmental organization.