In the recent issue of Foreign Affairs, Charles King wrote on the competing realities of the legacy of Senator J. William Fulbright. However, as good I think King’s “The Fulbright Paradox – Race and the Road to a New American Internationalism” is in correcting some of the fallacies, problems, and inflationary tales around the Fulbright legacy, he repeats a myth that is central to the Fulbright story. Inexplicably, King also fails to convey Fulbright’s rejection that Russia and communism pose a threat to US national security. While King goes a good way to correct the selective biographical stories of Fulbright that should generally get the label of hagiography (or even cult-like) for their selective telling in elevating Fulbright to deity, King’s essay requires a few corrections, clarifications, and filling in of omissions. That said, King’s essay should be required alongside the number of biographies of Fulbright.Continue reading “The Incompleteness of the Fulbright Paradox “
Last week, I published “W(h)ither R: a marquee failure of leadership in foreign policy,” a 2300-word discussion on the bipartisan failure to fill the Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs. Below is a bulleted edition (with bonus arguments) for the tl;dr (too long, didn’t read) crowd.Continue reading “tl;dr edition of “W(h)ither R: a marquee failure of leadership in foreign policy” “
Whither /ˈ(h)wiT͟Hər/ what is the likely future of?
Wither /ˈwiT͟Hər/ fall into decay or decline.
In December 1944, the State Department formally, and finally, acknowledged the important role of public opinion to U.S. foreign policy by establishing the Assistant Secretary of State for Public and Cultural Relations. Renamed to the Assistant Secretary of Public Affairs just over a year later, the assistant secretary was charged with expanding both the department’s domestic and foreign engagement programs “to provide American citizens with more information concerning their country’s foreign policy and to promote closer understanding with the peoples of foreign countries.” This integrated approach, given expansive global legislative authority by the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948, was later shredded because ivy league diplomats at the department wanted the foreign cultural and information programs to conform to their “own long-established conventions [rather] than carrying out the congressional intention of [the Smith-Mundt Act].” This meant removing the public side to foreign affairs and creating the United States Information Agency in 1953 and institutionalizing the segregation of information from policy and the foreign from the domestic. In 1997, when Congress set upon shuttering USIA and reintegrating the bulk of its operations into the State Department, they directed the executive branch to establish a new Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy. Instead, the White House established an Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs. Notionally akin to the integrated portfolio of the Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs as it existed from 1944-1953. The reality was different and the segregation continued. The fact this office has been vacant four of ten days since the autumn of 1999 reveals the intentional marginalization of the informational component of foreign affairs continues even as many assert the U.S. is engaged in some kind of “information war.”Continue reading “W(h)ither R: a marquee failure of leadership in foreign policy “
At the end of the summer of 1949, Vincent Price had some words. Price was then the eponymous character on the show The Saint (his performance is superb by the way) and at the end of an episode titled “Color-Blind Killer” he offered the following public service announcement:
Ladies and Gentlemen,Vincent Price, September 18, 1949.
In a prejudice filled America no one would be secure in his job, his business, his church or his home. Yet racial and religious antagonisms are exploited daily by quacks and adventurers whose followers make up the irresponsible lunatic fringe of American life. Refuse to listen to or spread rumors against any race or religion. Help to stamp out prejudice in our country. Let’s judge our neighbors by the character of their lives alone and not on the basis of their religion or origin.
You can hear this episode here. His PSA is at 21:54.
Sadly, the “quakes and adventurers whose followers make up the irresponsible lunatic fringe of American life” are, unfortunately, still with us. Worse, they are out of the shadows and feel empowered.
You can also hear Price’s PSA at the end of every one of the Down These Mean Streets podcasts (which I recommend).