From the Heritage Foundation. The President’s budget is going to undermine our foreign policy.
The end of an era is at hand. Today marks the last day of BBC World Service Broadcasts to China and Russia after 70 years on the air. Voice of America (VOA) may not be far behind.
VOA several years ago closed down its Russian broadcasts, and, according to the President’s 2012 budget request, broadcasts to China are soon to follow. Already shortwave service in Cantonese has been closed down, and in October, Mandarin is to follow. Next year, television as well as AM and FM radio are on the cutting block.
The Chinese people have been able to rely on truthful information from VOA and the BBC throughout their many national traumas, including Tiananmen Square. No more. While some VOA shortwave programming is to be transferred to Radio Free Asia (which is also owned by the U.S. government), the Internet will henceforth be the primary medium of communication with the people of China, a country whose government is world-class when it comes to Internet censorship.
On VOA’s Chinese service, which devoted an evening show to the broadcasting cuts last week, callers from China expressed their disappointment and dismay with the radio silence from the West that is about to befall them. Contrary to arguments that radio and satellite TV are completely jammed by the Chinese government, callers from a number of provinces, from Beijing to rural China to Inner Mongolia, spoke of their reliance on VOA as an honest and credible source of source of news. They spoke of not knowing where to turn if the broadcasts go off the air. One expressed deep mystification and sadness: “Why are you abandoning us?”
My co-workers often ask me, because I am pro-peace-through-strength and pro-just-war, what my plan is for dealing with strategic hot-spots like Lebanon, Syria, North Korea and Iran. Well the first order of business is to oppose Islamic radicalism with peaceful means. My model is Ronald Reagan. If you can win a war without firing a shot, then you need to do that. Broadcasting pro-Western messages into trouble spots and arming pro-democracy groups costs us basically nothing. There isn’t anything wrong with the United States using its wealth and power to promote democracy, capitalism and peace abroad. We have the power to do it, and we ought to insofar as we are able to. It’s better to use radio broadcasts now than Tomahawk cruise missiles later, as much as I love Tomahawk cruise missiles.