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The plans are unlikely to restore the BBC to its peak position of the World War II era when it was broadcasting in 45 languages, but they could help halt its humiliating decline and sharpen its competitive edge, if implemented wisely.Ironically, it was the same government that inflicted massive damage to the broadcaster that came up with this expansion initiative.
It is the biggest expansion of the broadcaster in more than 70 years, and a signal that Britain aims to exercise its soft power more vigorously.
My research, for instance, indicates that the British government’s involvement in the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq appears to have harmed the impact of the BBC’s public diplomacy role among many Muslims.
As Professor Nicholas Cull argues, the “most potent voice for an international actor is not what it says but what it does”.
Not long after the World Service squeeze, the so-called Islamic State made its presence known in a dramatic fashion, capturing territories in the Middle East and organising and inspiring anti-Western attacks across the world.
By the time its agents staged massive attacks in Paris on November 13 2015, killing 130 people, the West was almost in panic.
The World Service is more likely to be a better soft power resource under a government that adopts non-aggressive and more inclusive foreign policy.