In his book Soft Power, Joseph Nye had argued for the U.S. government to expend more resources on media, foreign exchanges, and other means of cultural interchange. Coincidentally, Samuel Logan at Security in Latin America notes how this is taking place. Except that it is Iran.
The Iranian administration caused an uproar in the government’s own Majlis parliament when it provided Bolivia with an unapproved loan of over 280 million dollars on July 31, 2009.Over and above the material and financial support that Iran has provided, newly installed TV and radio stations may spread Tehran’s influence at a more cultural level. Iranian radio has broadcast in-depth reports and interviews about its positive relationship to Latin America, the evils of colonialism, and anti-imperialism. “This opportunity has come up for Iran,” said Dr Massah, a university lecturer on one program, “to spread the slogans of anti colonialism, prevent the international system from becoming monopolized, and spread the sense of seeking justice, which arises from Islamic standards, in [Latin America].” Bolivia’s state-run TV channel regularly shows Iranian movies, and a Muslim preacher delivered services at a state-sponsored event in June 2009.
Interesting stuff. I have to wonder, though, how much traction Iranian TV and radio will get in Bolivia, and whether that would foster greater sympathy for Iranian foreign policy.