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Some new diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks have confirmed that America's greatest export, and our best tool for preventing terrorism abroad (Saudi Arabia, specifically), is our TV. Because really: who wants to go around plotting the deaths of US citizens when there's a new episode of Grey's Anatomy to watch? Meanwhile, all of our active propaganda efforts in the region are pretty much failures. From the Guardian:
"It's still all about the war of ideas here, and the American programming on MBC and Rotana [a channel part-owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation] is winning over ordinary Saudis in a way that al-Hurra and other US propaganda never could," two Saudi media executives told a US official in a meeting at a Jeddah branch of Starbucks. "Saudis are now very interested in the outside world and everybody wants to study in the US if they can. They are fascinated by US culture in a way they never were before," the May 2009 cable says.
Apparently, the people doing the most convincing job of getting other people not to hate us include the unsurprising George Clooney, David Letterman, and the Desperate Housewives ladies and the more unexpected Robin Williams. (I guess they have yet to catch his turn in Old Dogs. Snap!) So the next time someone snootily tells you they "don't own a TV," you can tell them TV is helping to save the world. (Sorta.)