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the US pavilion at the Venice Biennale

SINCE THE EVENTS of 2001, public diplomacy—aka “soft propaganda”—has become a hot item on foreign-policy agendas to a degree not seen since the start of the cold war, and it should come as no surprise that the State Department is expected to take a leading role in the battle for hearts and minds. Testifying before Congress last August on the September 11 Commission’s public-diplomacy recommendations, assistant secretary of state for educational and cultural affairs Patricia S. Harrison said that “after 9/11, we redirected funds to enable us to move quickly and reach beyond elites.” She went on to detail a series of new outreach projects, such as Hi, a glossy Arabic-language monthly that attempts to neutralize prospective jihadists with articles on yoga and Internet dating. While the State Department has spent four million dollars on Hi so far, one of its more “elite” programs—supporting

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