Since Joseph Nye coined the phrase more than twenty years ago the US has gone to great lengths to defend and expand the ambit of its soft power - the message of Hollywood, the American music industry and the whole apparatus of monocultural hegemony that every day is whispered into nearly seven billion ears "America is best. America is right. Everyone would be American if they could".
It isn't, after all, merely the persuasive talents of the music and film industry lobbyists that lead the American congress, senate, president and judiciary to work so tirelessly in the interest of those industries. It's the perfectly sincere self-interest of a great power at work. So when copyright law is endlessly revised at both the statutory and case level to better serve the demands of the MPAA and RIAA; when the diplomatic efforts of the state are turned to expanding that American copyright law to the corners of the earth; when "Homeland Security" means not the fight against post-9/11 terrorism but the seizure of alleged copyright infringing domains; when the rights of American people and technology innovators alike are routinely trampled so that funding continues uninterrupted for the American message; that's America defending its soft power. That's diplomacy, statecraft; what Rochau and Bismarck called realpolitik.
By comparison, the cost to the UK of futiley exercising our hard power in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2010 alone (ie for just one year, and excluding our new misadventure in Libya) was estimated at £20bn. For approximately one hundredth of the cost of two unwinnable Middle Eastern wars, we might persuade the peoples of the earth of the rightness of our cause, rather than murder so many of those who have already seen with their own eyes that we are in the wrong. Quite regardless of the moral case, by any strategic or economic calculation £250m is a bargain for a broadcasting service with the reach and reputation of the World Service, and it is rankest folly to propose under-funding this irreplacable national asset.