Who said it, when, and why? Part I

(This was originally posted at mountainrunner.substack.com last week on 25 November 2022. Subscribe there to keep up to date with my writing via email, the substack app, or the substack website. Cross-posting here is a low priority for me, but eventually, all that I post on substack should make its way here.)

Happy Thanksgiving from an American in Switzerland. Yesterday was merely Thursday here, and with my wife and daughter in the US, I BBQ’d ribs for my son. (Though it was about 39F/4C at the time, it wasn’t a problem with my Big Green Egg.) Though Thanksgiving isn’t really an “export,” Black Friday has a real presence here. Explaining why the sales day is called that and why it’s today is always an interesting experience in cultural exchange. 

I did get out for a short and easy ride on the trails with the gravel bike yesterday morning at 5:15a (see picture). This morning’s planned 5a forest run was replaced with walking the dog while I talked to my dad in California while it was still Thanksgiving there. Priorities.

Now on to some of the answers to the quiz earlier this week I called “It’s been said…” Below are answers to the first six questions since this write-up was getting a bit long as I felt some context was necessary to properly situate the quote to at least infer relevance to the present rather than allow any semblance with the present a mere coincidence. 

Ok, on to the answers… 


Q1:

It is necessary to remember, in the first place, that this war is not one that is being fought by the military forces alone. There are economic, psychologic, social, political and even literary forces engaged, and it is necessary for us in order to defeat the enemy, to understand fully the strength of each. Nor can the investigation stop with the forces of the enemy: it must extend to each country in the world and to every people. The question of winning the war is far too complicated and far too delicate to be answered by a study of only the powers and resources of the nations in arms.

When: 1918, selected by 37% of the respondents (1945 chose 26%, 1952 enjoyed 37%). 

Source: The Functions of the Military Intelligence Division, Military Intelligence Division of the US Army General Staff (October 1, 1918)

The statement was a product of several years of analysis and consideration of the relationship of public opinion to national security by the US Army War College, then operating as a think tank to the General Staff, who in turn served as advisors to the Secretary of War. The Secretary of the Navy worked closely and helped shape these efforts and resulting suggestions, including work that sought to establish a “Department of Information,” also referred to in draft as a Committee or Bureau of Publicity, for the psychological defence of the nation. (Note: the Secretary of War and the Secretary of the Navy were cabinet secretaries until the National Security Act of 1947, which established the Secretary of Defense.) 

In April 1918, the War College published a model of national power with four top-level components. The college wrote “that in the ‘strategic equation’ of war there are four factors – combat, economic, political and psychologic – and that the last of these is coequal with the others.” Later that year, a study of the Military Intelligence Division of the US Army General Staff put this “CEPP” model, though for whatever reason I usually write it as PPCE, into perspective with the statement above. The “strategic equation” was discussed further in public, sort of, in a 1920 edition of The Naval Reviewby The Naval Society (“For Private Circulation among Its Members”). The image seen on the header of this post is a chart of this “strategic equation/” 

Some readers may see a similarity between the modern concept of the four instruments of power, which is often seen as “DIME” for Diplomacy, Information, Military, and Economics. DIME, however, is based on an organizational model and thus was originally framed as “instruments” rather than “elements” or “factors” of power. When introduced, Diplomacy pointed to the State Department, Information to the US Information Agency, Military to the Defense Department, and E to various elements from the White House to Commerce to Treasury. The inherent defective nature of DIME is a subject I’ve considered, researched, debated with others, and written about here and there (plus a draft, not yet submitted paper) for many years. A problem of the DIME model can be seen in the desire to modify it by adding -FIL to represent equities of other government organizations involved in Finance, Intelligence, and Law Enforcement. They are not “elements” or “factors” of power and they reinforce segregation and inhibit integration. A revealing discussion comparing the differences in the intentions and rational inferences of “diplomatic” versus “political,” “military” versus “combat,” and “information” versus “psychologic” is beyond the scope here, so I’ll stop and move on to the next statement. 

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Q2:

For many years there has been widespread discussion of the need for reorganizing the Department of State. Students, publicists, members of Congress, and members of the Department itself have repeatedly pointed out that the Department has not been geared up to performing the functions required of the foreign office of a great twentieth-century world power. 

The chief criticisms of the Department have been four: (1) that there was lacking a basic pattern of sound administrative organization, (2) that the type of personnel found both at home and abroad was inadequate for the job required in foreign affairs today, (3) that the Department was too far removed from the public and from Congress, and (4) that it was not prepared to provide leadership for, and maintain the necessary relations with, other federal agencies.

When: 1944, selected by 21% of the respondents (1951 garnered 36%, 1961 received 43%). 

Source: Laves, Walter H. C., and Francis O. Wilcox. “The Reorganization of the Department of State.” The American Political Science Review 38, no. 2 (1944): 289–301.

The State Department in 1944 was a mess, not just because it had taken a back seat to the War Department. Both authors had been well-positioned in government to write this monograph, and both had very distinguished careers (see this obit for Laves and Wikipedia for Wilcox). The authors described how new agencies created during the war “relieved the State Department of many operations and made unnecessary the expansion of its personnel for these purposes. However, there fell to the Department the important and complicated task of keeping the activities of the agencies in line with our foreign policy.” Incidentally, Dean Acheson later lamented in his 1969 autobiography how the department “muffed” responsibilities and that roles like research and intelligence died because of “gross stupidity” in the department. He also described how departmental roles “succumbed to the fate of so many operating agencies with which the State Department has had a go, including economic warfare, lend-lease, foreign aid, and technical assistance. In all of these cases, either the Department was not imaginative enough to its opportunity or administratively competent enough to seize it, or the effort became entangled in red tape and stifled by bureaucratic elephantiasis, or conflict with enemies in Congress absorbed all the Department’s energies.” I cannot recall an analysis of the State Department recalling either the Laves & Wilcox paper or Acheson’s invective. That the present-day State Department is in deep need of a major restructuring and reworking the organizational culture is an understatement. It took 44 years for the department to self-address its deficiencies in the prior century, suggesting it might be reasonable to expect a change in another two decades or so. Congressional interest in the State Department is virtually nil, as I lamented when I testified this summer (3:30a where I was, 9:30a in DC), so don’t hold your breath change will be imposed from there. 

Back to Laves and Wilcox. The following passage from their paper spotlights their argument about an absence of a “sound administrative organization.” 

One needs only to glance at the first accompanying chart to realize that the State Department, as so often happens in nearly all kinds of organizations, grew through the years pretty much like Topsy, with divisions added at random when new jobs appeared on the horizon. As a result, the Department’s organizational chart reminded one somehow of the curious contours of the Department building itself. Divisions were indiscriminately placed under the direction of the Assistant Secretaries and the Under Secretary without any clearcut administrative pattern. Assistant Secretary Berle, for example, handled such widely disparate functions as finance, aviation, Canada, and Greenland, besides supervising the unrelated activities of the Passport Division, the Division of International Conferences, and the Translating Bureau.

Some notes on the statement above. The reference to Topsy is likely to a character in Harriet Beacher Stow’s book, not the electrocuted elephant. The “curious contours of the Department building” refers to the State, War and Navy Building, where the State Department was still headquartered until it moved to its present location in Foggy Bottom in 1947. The State, War and Navy Building is now called the Eisenhower Executive Office Building and still sits next to the White House. The broad consensus at the time was the State, War and Navy Building was “no aesthetic treat.” As one newsman described it at the time, “If you’re ever looking out of the window in this building, and you see a man on the street shudder when he looks toward it, you can bet your life that man is an architect.”⁠

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Q3:

Modern international relations lie between peoples, not merely governments. Statements on foreign policy are intelligible abroad in the spirit in which they are intended only when other peoples understand the context of national tradition and character which is essential to the meaning of any statement. This is especially true of a collaborative foreign policy which by nature must be open and popular, understood and accepted at home and abroad. International Information activities are integral to the conduct of foreign policy.

When: 1945. An apology is due here as I provided the option of 1944 instead of 1945. However, 1944 was the closest answer though only 15% picked it (1920 garnered 38%, 1953 received 46%). 

Source: MacMahon, Arthur. Memorandum on the Postwar International Information Program of the United States (July 5, 1945). 1945.

This 241-page report was an internal analysis launched in January 1945 and completed in July 1945. The few references you might see to this report, outside of my writing, generally refer to the abridged December 1945 edition (135 pages), made public in an attempt to sway the US press to support a Congressional and State Department international information program, of which radio was a sideshow intended to spin out into government-funded non-profit. According to one report, about 100 copies of the December 1945 edition were produced (I have one of them). This distribution backfired as the report contained two footnotes that weren’t to be released to the public (at the very least, they would have been labelled “Sensitive but Unclassified” in the State Department’s current classification scheme), including one that included the following remark from the Second Secretary at the US Embassy in Mexico City dated September 26, 1944: “So far as Mexico is concerned, at least, any argument that Reuters and the BBC are not British Government agencies is completely untenable…⁠” Reuters and its US partner, the Associated Press, were unhappy with the allegation. In the unofficial history of Reuters, the situation covers six pages. The AP used the situation to launch its attacks on the State Department’s information programs, focusing on the radio operations as competition and illicit, claiming any association AP had with the radio program, commonly referred to as the Voice of America in 1946, would taint the AP. While it objected to VOA using its material, the AP had no problem with the Russian “news” service TASS using AP material, a fact pointed out by other press and the State Department at the time. 

MacMahon was a political scientist at Columbia University, later president of the American Political Science Association, and, in modern terms, a contractor to the department to provide internal analyses such as this. The State Department had just created the position of Assistant Secretary of Public and Cultural Relations in December 1944, raising public information up from an administrative sideshow to have a higher profile. The job was dual-hatted for foreign and domestic engagement, with no semblance of any need to firewall either. Archibald MacLeish was confirmed to the assistant secretary job that month. The following month, after meetings with his colleagues elsewhere in government, tasked MacMahon with figuring out the future needs. In six months, MacMahon produced this report, and it served as a roadmap for the State Department and Congress in structuring and authorizing the global engagement programs at the State Department, some of which are commonly referred to as “public diplomacy” today. 


Q4:

As a nation we are not really trying to win the cold war.

When: 1952, selected by 33% of the respondents (1948 garnered 17%, 1962 received 50%) 

Source: Dr Wilson Compton, Administrator of the International Information Administration, “Report on International Information Administration—1952” sent to the Secretary of State, December 31, 1952. 

The IIA has generally been lost to history, but I’ve been trying to revive it in light of the misguided calls to “bring back USIA,” calls that have no idea what USIA did, did not do, or have any grasp that USIA was an example segregating and marginalizing information from policy. For more on IIA and USIA, see The Irony Of Misinformation: USIA Myths Block Enduring Solutions by Chris Paul and me, published earlier this year. 

The sentence by Compton above opened a paragraph in his report worth sharing here. 

As a nation we are not really trying to win the cold war. We are relying on armaments and armies to win a hot war if a hot war comes. But winning a hot war which leaves a cold war unwon will not win very much for very long. Our present facilities for the “war of ideas” should enable us to retard the advance of international communism, dull the edge of its propaganda and help to give the free world a breathing space. This itself is important. But these facilities will not enable us to win the cold war. Nor perhaps will even larger facilities enable us to win it, until as a nation, or mutually with other nations, we can couple what we are able to say overseas more effectively with what we are able to do overseas.

IIA was beginning to work. It did a lot more than USIA ever did, and substantially more with greater influence on policy and the integration of information into policy and programs than most of the “bring back USIA” genre imagine is necessary. As a reflection of the size and perceived value of the IIA mission, half of the State Department’s personnel was under IIA, and IIA commanded more than 40% of the department’s budget. However, Ike’s Secretary of State, John Foster Dulles, disliked the idea of public engagement and happily ejected a lot of USIA under the guise that reducing the size and scope of the department would allow him to focus on the traditional concepts of diplomacy. Years earlier, Dulles had supported the idea of segregating information and direct engagement from diplomacy with a proposed cabinet-level Department of Peace, an operation that would have closely overlapped with the IIA model, so we should not be surprised that he took advantage of Sen. McCarthy’s attacks on the information program and Senators’ concerns about the libraries (largely because they contained books or magazines critical of individual Senators, which was the basis of Nevada’s McCarran’s critique of the program). 

Compton’s lament intended to highlight a lack of leadership and commitment to engaging in the “war of ideas” during the militarization of US foreign policy. 


Q5:

We believe these phrases indicate a basic misconception. for we find that the “psychological” aspect of policy is not separable from policy, but is inherent in every diplomatic, economic or military action. There is a “psychological” implication in every act, but this does not have life apart from the act. Although there may be distinct psychological plans and specific psychological activities directed toward national objectives, there are no “national psychological objectives” separate and distinct from national objectives.

When: 1953, selected by 33% of the respondents (1963 garnered 17%, 1972 received 50%) 

Source: President’s Committee on International Information Activities (1953). 

This followed Compton’s report mentioned above, which was made public at a Senate hearing at the end of 1952. Eisenhower launched this committee soon after taking office, with William H. Jackson of Princeton as chair. Jackson, not to be confused with C.D. Jackson, was charged with studying of the “cold war” (lowercase and quotes drawn appeared in contemporary news reports, the cold war was not yet a proper noun). The above statement is critical of the Truman administration’s Psychological Strategy Board, which conceived of separate “national psychological objectives” and “psychological policies.” Eisenhower replaced the PSB with his Operations Coordinating Board in 1953. I’ll not delve into whether Eisenhower’s creation of USIA violated the abovementioned principles. (Spoiler: the creation of USIA did violate the principles and also the very recommendations that supported removing the information function from State, all of which set specific requirements that were ultimately never met. For more, The Irony Of Misinformation: USIA Myths Block Enduring Solutions for a brief discussion of this or my Operationalizing Public Diplomacy chapter). 


Q6:

But [the author] documents the difficulties, noting misconceptions rife in government officialdom and among other wielders of power, let alone intellectuals, about the nature and needs of political communication. He notes the absence of doctrine. He traces out disagreements between departments of the government (State and Defense especially) about who should wield this weapon and how, in war or in peace. He calls for concerted action under the wise and dramatic leadership of a President standing above departmental parochialism and conflict, aided by a co-ordinator in the White House. He insists that we must match ideas harmoniously with policies and actions, but claims we have not “found our ideas.”

When: 1960, selected by 36% of the respondents, with 1953 garnering 64% (!!) while 1967 received 0%. 

Source: Review by Charles A. H. Thomson in 1960 of Murray Dyer’s The Weapon on the Wall (1959).

Dyer suggested replacing “psychological warfare” with “political communication,” as Thomson wrote, “an already well-fashioned weapon on the wall, waiting only to be taken down and used in the service of democratic values.” Dyer’s book is good (my copy came from a West German Army library), and Thomson’s critique is useful by revealing the defects in Dyer’s book as a roadmap forward (“more concerned with the developments to date than with the future”) while acknowledging the book’s value in not just revealing the present organization, but often why it is organized that way. Books like Dyer’s, in my opinion, provide value, not because of their suggested roadmaps, but to provide clarity that so many of the issues, dilemmas, threats, and opportunities of political warfare than many modern texts that imagine a freshly discovered new world have, for the most part, been debated and discussed already. 

This quote is noteworthy in another way. Thomson worked at the State Department during the war and may have sat next to MacMahon, as both were, at a time, listed as advisors. Thomson left State for the Brookings Institution where, in 1948, he published a very useful 397-page analysis, Overseas Information Service of the United States Government (my copy is filled with paper bookmarks), which looks at the wartime activities and goes up to early 1948. 


Well, at over 3,000 words, that’s enough for now. I’ll share the answers and some context to the remaining statements in a couple of days. 

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