Quoting History: Information as an essential component of foreign policy

Events in the past year have made a United States Government information program more important than ever. Information is one of the three essential components in carrying out United States foreign policy — the other two, of course, being military and economic. Each has its function to perform in this great struggle for the minds of men, and each has, or should have, an equally high place in the strategic plan.

First Semiannual Report of the Advisory Commission on Information, March 1949.

In 1949, the Cold War was in full swing. Barely four years earlier, the White House and the Congress set about to make various programs permanent in the post-war world. These efforts included various information programs — radio, libraries, press feeds, motion pictures, books, and other publications — and various exchange programs — educational, cultural, and technical. There was one primary authority for these — the eventually named Smith-Mundt Act of 1948 — and several supplementary programs — the Fulbright Act and Defense Department information programs run in Japan and Germany/Austria. 

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The Smith-Mundt Act: A legislative history from 1953 by Burton Paulu

This 1953 Journalism Quarterly article by Burton Paulu entitled “Smith-Mundt Act- A legislative history” (3.7mb PDF) is an interesting and short read for anyone wanting to know more about the early discussions around the start of U.S. public diplomacy. The timing of this particular paper is interesting. Continue reading “The Smith-Mundt Act: A legislative history from 1953 by Burton Paulu

The first Fulbright countries: Burma, China, Greece, and the Philippines

Did you know that the first four countries to have educational exchanges under the Fulbright Act of 1946 where Burma (now Myanmar), China, Greece, and the Philippines? While the bilateral agreement with China was signed before Burma’s, the first action under the Fulbright Act was with Burma.  Continue reading “The first Fulbright countries: Burma, China, Greece, and the Philippines

George Kennan’s Draft on Information Policy on Relations with Russia

Source: Truman Library, Acheson Papers, Box 27, Correspondence Under Secretary 1945-1947

It is a pity that our press plays up our diplomatic relations like a ball game, stressing victories and defeats. Good diplomacy results in satisfaction for both sides as far as possible; if one side really feels defeated, they try to make up for it later, and thus relations deteriorate. In general the daily press and commentators dramatize short-term conflicts at the expense of long-term prospects for achieving a stable balance.

— Draft on Information Policy on Relations with Russia by George Kennan, July 22, 1946.

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The Brookings Institute on U.S. International Information… in 1948

“Brookings Report Sees Flaws in U.S. Information Service” was the headline on page 2 in the December 13, 1948, edition of The Washington Post. The report, Overseas Information Service of the United States Government by Charles Thomson, examined the government’s information activities during World War II, the changes immediately after, and made recommendations for the future.  Continue reading “The Brookings Institute on U.S. International Information… in 1948

Willis Conover & Smith-Mundt, a more complete picture

If you missed yesterday’s Wall Street Journal article by Doug Ramsey on Willis Conover, you should read it. The article is part of a campaign to get Mr. Conover on a U.S. postage stamp.

There was one passage from the article that stuck out to me, as anyone who knows me or knows the book I am writing (it’s nearly finished, by the way) would know it would. Here is the sentence: 

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Call for Papers: Defence Strategic Communications

Read the below call for papers for a new academic journal.

“Defence Strategic Communications” is a yearly, open access, peer-reviewed and refereed journal published by the NATO Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence (NATO StratCom COE), Riga, Latvia. The Editorial Board of “Defence Strategic Communications“ is headed by Dr Steve Tatham. I am a member of the editorial board as well. Continue reading “Call for Papers: Defence Strategic Communications

A news hungry Europe

This cartoon appeared in the New York Herald Tribune on October 21, 1947. I found it in the Truman library (Truman Library, President’s Personal File, Box 540, PPF 1971) attached to a letter from Bill Benton to the President dated October 25. Benton had just departed as Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs and was working as a Special Consultant for State on UNESCO, an effort he had long been involved as, while preparing for a bid for the Senate. In his letter, Benton mentions he meant to give the cartoon to the President when they met the day before and had a suggestion:  Continue reading “A news hungry Europe