Event: The Abolition of USIA and Its Effects on U.S. Public Diplomacy

At The Heritage Foundation December 9, 2009, 10a – 11:30a: The Abolition of USIA and Its Effects on U.S. Public Diplomacy. Speakers include Joe Duffey, Bill Kiehl, Stephen Johnson, Robert Schadler and hosted by Helle Dale.

Founded in 1953, the mission of the United States Information Agency (USIA) was to “understand, inform and influence foreign publics in promotion of the national interest, and to broaden the dialogue between Americans and U.S. institutions and their counterparts abroad.”  For years, USIA was the U.S. government’s public diplomacy arm, charged with telling America’s story abroad.  Ten years ago, USIA was disbanded and its functions were folded into the State Department under the management of Undersecretary of State for Public Affairs and Public Diplomacy.  Since then, U.S. public diplomacy has fallen upon hard times.  The new administration has repeatedly proclaimed that U.S. engagement in the world would be revitalized and yet there has been little change at U.S. foreign policy’s lead agency.  Our panelists will analyze the changes that U.S. public diplomacy has gone through in the past 10 years and what should be done to improve America’s ability to “understand, inform and influence foreign publics in promotion of the national interest.”

I won’t be there but RSVP here if you want to be there. I’m interested in your feedback on the discussion.

2 Replies to “Event: The Abolition of USIA and Its Effects on U.S. Public Diplomacy”

  1. There is very interesting essay ‘Gone but not forgotten’ by Dr. Nicholas Cull, Professor of Public Diplomacy and Director of the Masters Program in Public Diplomacy at USC about that the Agency leadership sold it as a cold war instrument, but not all of us followed in lock-step to do that. Washington staff who had to testify before Congress used the cold war argument to get funding but those of us in the field shaped our program depending on local circumstances and those varied widely.

  2. One of the first troubling decisions of the new administration was to close the Office of Support for Public Diplomacy within the Department of Defense, reflecting an attitude of suspicion of psychological operations as undertaken in a military context.

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