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Diplomacy in Action

March 1966 - Twenty-First Report of the United States Advisory Commission on Information


   
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Commission Members:
Frank Stanton, chairman
Palmer Hoyt
Dorothy B. Chandler
Sigurd S. Larmon
M. S. Novik
 

Summary

This report examined the necessary actions for improving and strengthening the US information and cultural relations program. The Commissioners noted that it is a strategic error that Congress has insisted on shifting resources away from Europe and toward countries facing rapidly changing and revolutionary conditions in Africa, Latin America, and Asia. The Commission recommended that USIA should cover both present and future objectives, develop long-range plans, make more effective use of research, improve the quality of its programs and personnel, strengthen the balance between cultural and informational programs, reexamine its content, and continue to seek favorable levels of appropriations.

Quotations

It is the belief of the Advisory Commission that too little emphasis is being given to the crucial need to gain understanding and respect for the United States, its purposes and policies, through ideological means.

Between 1948 and 1964, the American people spent $785 billion for military purposes and less than one-three hundredths of that (2.5 billion) for USIA’s ideological efforts. The Commission is aware that figures alone never tell the whole story; that a dollar invested in one way may bring more productive results than many times the same amount spent in another way. But the differences between the figures cited here is too great to allow for such comfortable rationalization.

From its inception the information program faced difficult problems in management and organization, policy and program, facility and construction, personnel and evaluation, ands the evolution of its role in the government structure. Compounding these problems have been the difficulty of establishing an adequate financial and appropriations base and the domestic political controversies concerning its activities which have periodically raged in Congress and in the press. A succession of six directors in the last 12 years—each with a different idea of the mission, did not provide continuity and stability to the Agency’s direction and leadership.

It was only after a long trip to Europe by a bipartisan joint Senate-House Committee and the publication of its report which reflected anxiety and concern over the specter of a Communist Western Europe, that Public Law 402 was passed. The Congress was determined that the United States join the debate initiated by Communist propagandists in order to correct and reduce the amount of European misunderstanding of American purposes and American policy.

What is required of us in Europe is a steady concern and interest in this most important continent which, from every conceivable strategic viewpoint, is so much identified with and essential to US vital interests.



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