There has been a renewed focus on soft power, especially after the global publicity garnered by the British royal wedding in April. "We've got an extremely active British Council here," Mr Warrington said. "There are over 50 schools teaching the British syllabus. They're all taking British exams. There are more British universities than any other universities.

Unless Congress steps in, there is a real danger that a strategic asset of great value to the United States and to freedom-loving listeners around the world will be wasted. The battle for hearts and minds did not end with the Cold War (which broadcasting can help win, by the way). Far from it.

The successful killing by the U.S. military of al-Qaida head Osama bin Laden makes the case for a transition from a 20th century model of defense to a new version, characterized by advocates as “soft” or “smart” power.

“What works so well about Peace Corps is that it’s not a development organization,” Goyal said. “It’s really more about cultures, languages, and people.”

Britain should abandon its plan to cut funding for the BBC World Service or at least ring-fence some parts of it, including BBC Arabic, in the light of the upheaval in the region, parliamentarians said on Wednesday.

An influential cross-party committee of MPs has called for the cuts to the BBC's World Service to be reversed to protect its global reputation. The Commons foreign affairs select committee said the 16% budget cut imposed on the service as part of the government's comprehensive spending review had "long-term ramifications"...

April 12, 2011

Yet while last week's cuts failed to do much about the deficit, they could do serious damage to U.S. foreign policy. On Tuesday, the axe fell: The State Department and foreign operations budget was slashed by $8.5 billion -- a pittance when compared to military spending, but one that could put a serious dent in the United States' ability to positively influence events abroad.

The Broadcasting Board of Governors will receive $10 million under the compromise spending deal reached last week. President Obama effectively sided with the BBG over his own State Department in a funding dispute involving Internet circumvention work.