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Uncle Sam's Blog

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

The Bush administration's latest budget contains a significant increasein spending on ''public diplomacy" -- government-sponsored programs tocommunicate with the citizens of other countries through the media andcultural and educational exchanges. The increase has been met with asigh of relief from foreign policy watchers who believe publicdiplomacy is an essential pillar of American ''soft power" and havewatched that pillar slowly crumble since the end of the Cold War.

During the Cold War, the US Information Agency led America's publicdiplomacy assault, broadcasting Radio Free Europe to Soviet Blocstates, broadcasting the Voice of America throughout the world, andsponsoring numerous alternatives to state-sponsored media in nonfreecountries. The agency was dissolved in 1999 and its programs absorbedinto the State Department, where critics say long-term public diplomacyefforts have been starved for attention in a department culture that isfocused on short-term solutions to immediate crises. ...

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