Quoting History: Policies and Actions Must Anticipate Psychological Impact

Six days after his inauguration, President Dwight D. Eisenhower established the Committee on International Information Activities, commonly referred to as the Jackson Committee because of its chairman William H. Jackson. The committee’s final report, submitted to the President June 1953, stated

We believe…that the Kremlin will avoid initiatives involving serious risk of general war, especially since it may hope to make additional gains by political warfare methods without such risk. …

Propaganda cannot be expected to be the determining factor in deciding major issues. The United States is judged less by what it says through official information outlets than by the actions and attitudes of the Government in international affairs and the actions and attitudes of its citizens and officials, abroad and at home. … The cold war cannot be won by words alone. What we do will continue to be vastly more important than what we say."

Eisenhower understood this completely. On several occasions he testified in Congress in support of the Smith-Mundt Bill. In 1952, as part of his foreign policy plank speech, presidential candidate Eisenhower had said much the same: “As a nation, everything we do and everything we fail to say or do will have its impact in other lands.”

In a National Security Council meeting to discuss the Jackson Committee’s report, Eisenhower stressed that the requirement to “make sure that the psychological factor in important Government actions was not overlooked" and that someone in the NSC would keep track of the “p-factor” of Government actions. The “p-factor” meaning psychological, propaganda, or persuasion.

Sources: Total Cold War: Eisenhower’s Secret Propaganda Battle at Home and Abroad and The Cold War and the United States Information Agency: American Propaganda and Public Diplomacy, 1945-1989