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  • A Billion Here, a Billion There: The State Department's Wacky Budget Process

    Even by U.S. government standards (not a high one these days), the State Department’s budget process is a mess. In almost every budget cycle, billions and billions of hard-earned taxpayer dollars get allocated to the State Department in the last minute without proper congressional debate or substantive hearings. As a … More

    The BBG’s Culture of Secrecy

    What in the world is going on at the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) and the Voice of America (VOA)? The BBG has started to exhibit a level of secrecy worthy of the CIA, clamping down heavy-handedly on internal communications. VOA, meanwhile, has joined other news organizations at the United … More

    Global Disappointment in Obama Tracked by Pew

    President Obama came into office globally hailed as the savior of America’s standing in the world. Now, three-and-a-half years into the Obama presidency, international disappointment has set in. In its recent release of the 2012 report, the Pew Global Attitudes Project stressed that global public opinion is still so much … More

    The State Department’s Confusion over Confucius Institutes

    On May 17, Robin J. Lerner, deputy assistant secretary for private sector exchange at the State Department, made a valiant attempt to correct the troubling disparity in the public diplomacy competition between the Chinese and American governments, a competition in which the Chinese are clearly pulling ahead. The issue in … More

    Smith–Mundt: Myth and Reality

    Controversy has swirled around the Smith–Mundt Modernization Act since it passed mark-up as an amendment to the House version of the National Defense Authorization Act last Friday. Smith–Mundt has prohibited U.S. citizens from accessing the public diplomacy products of the U.S. government, whether in print or on the airwaves, since 1948. Critics on the left … More

    Smith-Mundt Modernization: Better Late than Never

    The House Armed Services Committee clearly acted in the U.S. interest when it voted to modernize the Smith–Mundt Act last week, as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act. Since 1948, Smith–Mundt has prohibited agencies of the U.S. government from informing the U.S. public in print or on the … More

    Cuban Solidarity Plus

    Cuban Solidarity Day should make us renew efforts to extend a little more freedom to the Cuban population, which is still effectively imprisoned under their creaky Communist autocracy. May 20 marks the 110th year of Cuba’s independence, of which 53 long years have been spent under the Castro brothers’ dictatorship. … More

    Kyl’s Call to Action

    “Americans are tired of carrying the burden of foreign obligations, frequently unappreciated by others and always costly in blood and treasure,” lamented Senator Jon Kyl (R–AZ) last week, as he gave the annual Jesse Helms lecture at The Heritage Foundation. The Senator, who spoke powerfully in favor of engagement and … More

    Congress Moves to Protect International Broadcasting

    Kudos to the House Appropriations Committee for protecting U.S. international broadcasting against the eviscerating cuts in language services and personnel contained in the President’s proposed fiscal year (FY) 2013 budget. If the budget passes—a big “if,” of course—it could reverse a direction that can only be described as self-defeating for American … More

    Russian Roulette at Voice of America

    Depending on Russian government-funded media to broadcast news from Voice of America (VOA) is about as brain-dead as depending on Russian spaceships to send American astronauts into space or depending on Russian fuel supply for the U.S. ground and air forces in Afghanistan. The outcome will surely not be in … More