When I first heard that America was shopping a version of “Sesame Street” to Pakistan, I couldn't help but feel a touch of pride that someone finally got around to stealing my idea for Baywatch Imperialism.It is true, I can't take full credit for the idea. I'm certain imperialism wasn't the only reason the government decided to export Elmo and his friends to the troubled nation. There is the fact that an estimated 6.5 million Pakistani children do not attend school and 72 percent of those who do leave before the fifth grade. A few minutes a day with “The Count” may be the only math these kids get, so sending them “Sesame Street” — or, “Sim Sim Hamara,” as the Pakistani version was known — is generally a nice thing to do.That said, governments tend not to blow $20 million to do nice things. They spend money to further the national interest or, to put it in slightly less political verbiage, to win.Winning is always the endgame of international diplomacy. We can win resources, we can win new markets, or we can win the hearts and minds of people, but the goal is always the same. What does vary is our method. Sometimes we invade and take what we want. Sometimes we try to buy our way in with gifts and offerings. And sometimes we send them “Baywatch.”For those of you either too young to have experienced it, or too old to recall, “Baywatch” was the biggest (and some would say, greatest) television show of the 20th century. At its peak in the mid-1990s, the show had 1.1 billion viewers worldwide.The show followed the dramatic antics of a group of hard-bodied California lifeguards, led by a not-so-hard-bodied David Hasselhoff. The plots had considerably less to do with the show's success than the fact that each hour-long episode promised at least 20 minutes of unbelievably well-endowed women running down white-sand beaches, filmed lovingly in Technicolor slow motion. I'm tearing up a little just thinking about it.The show was a success, not just in viewing numbers, but in a secondary agenda of sending the message to millions of foreign viewers that America was not just the land of the free and home of the brave, but also a country absolutely polluted with women that looked exactly like Pamela Anderson in her prime and men who looked like ... well, to be honest, aside from Hasselhoff and former Hardy Boy Parker Stevens, I can't recall the names of any of the men on the show. That's not important. The point is, foreigners watching “Baywatch” developed an enthusiasm for us. They wanted to visit this land of buxom goodness. They wanted to be us. The result of all this — what I first referenced in a 1996 column on this very page as Baywatch Imperialism — was measurable. Study after study found that, around the globe, people who had access to satellite television had markedly better attitudes about the United States and its culture. Ronald Reagan may get the credit for bringing down the Berlin Wall, but it's no accident that it was Hasselhoff up there singing to his crazed German fans on the day the wall came down.This sort of imperialism is hardly new. Alexander the Great was wise enough to use the cultural benefits of ancient Greece to placate the masses in his conquered worlds, as has every conqueror since. America has long understood the benefits of showing off its goods, and it works. As someone who spent some time in Eastern Europe in the late-'80s, I can tell you that the world, especially the part of it living at the time under communism, coveted the heck out of what we had, just as much of the Middle East does today.Sadly, it seems as though we've forgotten all that. Instead of trying to win over our enemies by emphasizing our innate awesomeness, we feed their hatred with drone attacks. We send them bombs when we should be hooking them up with free cable.Earlier this week, the U.S. terminated funding for the Pakistani version of “Sesame Street.” Government officials said the decision came as a Pakistani newspaper reported allegations of corruption by the local puppet theater working on the initiative. Apparently, it's impossible to find a puppeteer who isn't on the take. I've long suspected as much.That means the kids in Pakistan won't be growing up with the sweetness of Elmo and Big Bird. I don't know what they'll be watching instead, but I suspect it isn't going to help our cause much.Not that all hope is lost. In a few years, they'll be old enough for “Baywatch.” We can only pray a Hasselhoff concert is not far behind.