Public Diplomacy,  Smith-Mundt

Recommended reading: Smith-Mundt: Censorship American Style?

Read Greg Garland’s editorial at AmericanDiplomacy.org, Smith-Mundt: Censorship American Style?

A provision of the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948 prohibits the Voice of America and all other organs of public diplomacy from disseminating within the United States material intended for foreign publics.  What motivated Congress was distrust of the loyalty of the State Department; by banning domestic dissemination, Congress could block State from “propagandizing” the American people. … Despite this glaring flaw, Smith-Mundt as a whole is the vital legal foundation for all U.S. public diplomacy.  Questioning the law inevitably means questioning the nature of American public diplomacy. Understanding this, blogger Matt Armstrong (www.mountainrunner.us) organized a conference on January 13 to debate the merits of Smith-Mundt. [http://mountainrunner.us/symposium/]… As I sat through the conference, I kept thinking back to my boyhood clandestine listening.  Why on earth would Uncle Sam want to keep something from his own citizens but share it with the rest of the world? … don’t repeal Smith-Mundt.  It creates a statutory firewall between resources intended for foreign audiences and those used domestically. … tweak Smith-Mundt by getting rid of the one provision banning domestic dissemination. In this age of communication without borders, the existence of such statutory language only subverts America’s most powerful tool of soft power: our ideals.

Read the whole editorial here.