United States. Dept. of State. Office of Public Co.

Department of State bulletin (Volume v. 22, Apr- Jun 1950) online

. (page 95 of 116)
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tutional and traditional democracy among other
peoples as a general process. Thus, a correct un-
derstanding and the true facts would supplant
vague or incorrect understanding and intentional
distortions; and other people and governments
would be influenced by true understanding to
think and act in ways conducive to acceptance of
United States standards and interaction with
them. There was no conflict here with the tradi-
tional American reluctance to engage in foreign

As an instrument of foreign policy, the United
States foreign information-exchange enterprise
was bound to become more than a mechanism of
transmission. A kind of osmosis has entered into
the function, by which the programs projecting
the substance of American life have had to absorb
in their processes the essential character of what
they are interpreting. They contain implicitly in


their procedures those elements which differentiate
United States democratic practice from social-
political concepts and practice under the forms of
absolutism. A belief that the truth will make
men free governs their action.

Crystallization of isolated principles and meth-
ods of persuasion, as they have appeared in his-
torical instances, into an organized expedient to
influence populations in a particular dii'ection is
a phenomenon of modern societies.

Propaganda, in its general sense of the propa-
gation of an idea, found a ready-made arena in
conditions created by the industrial revolution —
its development of magnitudes, contraction of dis-
tances by means of technical invention, great
urban concentrations, and socio-political crystalli-
zation of cultures. As propaganda became a
weapon in war, it consolidated its a priori plan-
ning functions and was transformed into a pre-
determined assault on conscious and unconscious
group factors as embodied in symbolisms and
language. Regularity of impact became a pri-
mary rule of successful propaganda, and coherent
organization to guarantee regularity became an
essential element.

After the Department of State's inheritance of
the skeleton machinery of the Office of War In-
formation in 1945 was legalized by statute in 1948,
it was seen that although much had been learned
about the propaganda function in war, much re-
mained to be discovered about the mission and
execution of United States propaganda in an un-
easy peace. Was "a better understanding of the
United States in other countries" and "mutual
understanding" to be promoted chiefly by the il-
lustration and exposition abroad of American
benefits and virtues — "the American showcase"?
Was the United States to embark only on a
dignified dissemination of information in an in-
ternational atmosphere surcharged with misun-
derstanding, villification, and falsehood about
United States purposes and institutions?

These questions needed more than theoretical
answers— the pressure of world events required a
response taking into account the full scale of the
American spirit, its hardy realism along with its
fundamental morality and its idealism.

Aims of U.S. Propaganda

The fiinal aims of United States foreign policy
and of United States supporting propaganda, in
its sense of the propagation of a faith in what

the United States stands for, are identical.
Nevertheless, a difi^erence exists between the cate-
gorical objectives of United States foreign policy,
as expressed in measures such as the Marshall Plan
and related measures, and the practical working
objectives of United States propaganda.

United States foreign policy aims to assure the
security of American free institutions and liberal
tradition to assist in the development and survival
of similar forces elsewhere and to promote condi-
tions of international stability, freedom, and polit-
ical evolution likely to contribute toward that
security. The technical objectives of the United
States foreign information and educational ex-
change programs complement these aims.

By its very nature, propaganda cannot operate
independently of a policy threshold ; policy is both
the gun mount and the missile; propaganda, the
propeling explosive element. It can prepare the
way for substantive national policy, can assist in
the qualitative formulation and statement of
policy to insure an understanding reception, can
act to ameliorate the intellectual climate in which
political policy is enunciated and has to act; but,
in any final effectiveness, propaganda must have
substantial purposes to work on. It is meaningless j
in a policy vacuum. In this respect, the North I
Atlantic Treaty is a branch of national policy ; the
illumination abroad of American character, its
integrity of purpose and power to fulfill its obli-
gations are accompanying propaganda objectives.
If propaganda situations arise in which the credit ■
of the United States suffers by the lack of a polit-
ical instrument to which propaganda can supply
motive power, it is the responsibility of propa-
gandists to point up the omission.

Contrary to the public assumption that official
Ijropagandists are dashing cavaliers engaged in
verbal combat with similar adversaries, United
States Government propaganda is an organized
function. It speaks thi'ough organized media; it
coordinates with United States foreign policy and
related events ; it is familiar with the ethnic, polit-
ical, and social characteristics of global areas;
and it recognizes the cultural values of other peo-
ples. The function of propaganda also includes
an intensive knowledge and understanding of the
history, people, and institutions of the United

Accordingly, the processes by which decisions of
propaganda policy, arising out of national policy
and developing events, are arrived at are not acci-


Department of State Bulletin

dental. Similarly the application of propafjanda
policy by field operators nuist. be based upon
equally orj^anic considerations. In his mission, the
United States propajjandist must be prepared to
recofinize and to deal offectively with facts in the
foreign worUl whidi are undesirable from the
standpoint of United States security or which, on
the other hand, may be fostered as beneficial to
United States security.

Ignorance about the United States is a fertile
soil for the accumulation of grotesque stereotypes
and extravagant distortions of American life and
casually developed misconceptions and doubt of
United States motives wliich would he damaging
even in a world in which no Communist aggressor

The fundamentals of the political and social
life of the United States are not easily under-
stood by manj' foreign peoples who for centuries
have existed under social and political forms
which bear little resemblance to a free demo-
cratic life as we know it or have come only lately
in the moments of history to similar concepts.
Communist propaganda has taken quick advan-
tage for its own purposes of this lack of under-
standing; even the term "democracy," with its
powerful historical connotations, has been taken
over and its meaning perverted for Communist

Defense Against Communist Propaganda

The Communist offensive draws added strength
from these misconceptions; misunderstanding and
falsification are further stimulated in a highly
organized attack upon every aspect of American
life and of the intellectual and economic commerce
between the United States and other nations. In
this attack, Moscow has developed a formula of
"news" propaganda, which is neither new nor news
but which directly reflects the philosophy of the
end justifying the means. The formula is fiction
written and spoken under the guise of fact, em-
ploying trained and experienced craftsmen in the
sphere of the imagination. Defense against this
attack requires much more than a showcase treat-
ment of the United States ; it requires a well-organ-
ized positive program, exposing the juggling of
ideas and language of the Moscow propagandist
and utilizing the disposable media in all the ways
which may be conducive to receptive understand-
ing abroad. On the one hand, it must illuminate
United States purposes ; on the other, it must pene-

trate and expose false ideas about the United States
and about the world at large, tliose which are inten-
tionally propagated and those stereotypes which
arise from ignorance. As such, it cannot be pas-
sive. Its impact nuist have continuity and, within
the confines of clearly understood psychological
laws of propaganda technique, it must be militant.
Above all, as opposed to the improvisations of
hostile attack, it must be considered, factual in
content and must build cumulatively for long-run

Credibility can be attained not only by sincerity
of purpose and honesty of method but also by com-
municating sincerity and honesty through psycho-
logically sound methods which will elicit under-
standing. The propagandist cannot forget that
his objective is more than a substitution of bad
concepts with good ones; his ends will be best
served by creation of a permanent atmosphere of
good will and understanding, motivating other
people and their governments to act in consonance
with United States purposes.

The most important Soviet weapon, more im-
portant than its atomic weapon, is the vast illusion,
fortified by an equally vast body of dogma, which
Soviet imperial communism spreads through its
world-wide machinery. The latent idealism of
peoples everywhere is the target of an ideological
fabrication about the humanitarian objectives of
Soviet communism unmatched even by the propa-
ganda of Hitler or Goebels. The penetration and
collapse of this illusion, with its Machiavellian dis-
tortion of moral ideas, is a major mission of United
States propaganda; to make clear its hidden ag-
gressive designs against humanity and the system
of human slavery which lies concealed beliind its
promises is a fundamental purpose.

To be effective against this mass attack on the
foundations of Western cultures, one must do more
than present life in the United States as an exam-
ple of evolving democracy. The illustration in its
many forms has its place and is important. But,
behind it, is an idea — an ideology in the sense of a
set of beliefs in self-government and its corol-
laries — which is of first importance if foreign peo-
ples are to be influenced through their reason and
their convictions against the false promises of
Soviet communism.

Under the conditions of the Marxist-Leninist
ideology, it would be naive to believe that opposing
propagandists are sincere servers of a cause and
that one purjiose of United States propaganda is

June 19, 1950


to convince them of anything. The propaganda
battle cannot be reduced to the proportion of a
game between opposing teams. To be drawn into
a battle of words is not merely wasteful, it is a con-
fession of weakness. Propaganda advance does
not lie in confuting the opposition propagandist
but in persuading the audience, and confronting
the power psychosis of its rulers with hard

Techniques in Spreading U.S. Ideas

Few Americans will be able to agree entirely
on the essential meaning of American life, the
set of beliefs which underlie life in the United
States; indeed, this independence of individual
judgment is itself an asj^ect of a fundamental
trait. Yet a common denominator can be found
in the body of American thought and action as
exemplified in our history and legislative-] udicial

The Count de Tocqueville, who saw the United
States in the 1830's, drew attention to our instinct
to act in groups, form committees ; in the light of
later events, this instinct has become a basic char-
acteristic of the American wish to arrive by dis-
cussion at agreement and uniform judgments. It
is the democratic process in full play, in which
the highly developed individualism of a people
who had to make habitable a continent finds reso-
lution in action for the common good.

American self-reliance became "collective in-
dividualism ... a togetherness of several
and not the isolation of one." But, within this
spirit, at once self-reliant and cooperative, lie
those ethical value of democracy which were first
expressed in the Declaration of Independence and
which fortify Aniericans in their continuing

So intimately connected with it as to appear to
grow out of it is the American instinct for the
dignity of the individual human life. At this
point, in this atmosphere of liberty and respect
for the person — of liberty within law — the United
States fronts the peoples of the world who are
under the heavy pressure of the monolithic state.
The "give" in the American social and political
system, like the "give" — as opposed to rigidity —
in any successful mechanism, and as opposed to
the static rigidity of a totalitarian state, continues
to free the self-generating energy of Americans
toward building a progressively better world.
To express this faith in the avenues and channels


of the United States foreign information and
educational exchange service requires more than
an informed knowledge of the skills and techniques
of propaganda. The character of the propa-
gandist—and this is especially true in operations
abroad — has a direct relation to the effectiveness
of what the propagandist has to say. The men
and women who are engaged in the foreign infor-
mation and exchange service will fulfill the re-
quirements of these purposes in the deepest sense
only if they themselves have a clear understanding
of and belief in the essential meaning of the Amer-
ican society — its history, its ideals, and its aspira-
tions. They must have an assured belief that the
American scheme of living, its underlying empha-
sis toward continuing human betterment, contains
a satisfactory principle by which the immense
range of global problems can be practically

The United States propagandist must avoid per-
mitting himself to be driven into a position of
apology for any incompletion in the evolving
United States society. He must be prepared to
meet not only the broadside of Communist attack
but also the criticism of friendly peoples who,
through ignorance, the inertia of provincialism,
or a fundamental difference of concept, question
the American free enterprise system or any factual
demonstrations of our attitude toward the prob-
lems of race and labor. The competitive nature
of American life is directly related to our funda-
mental philosophy about the individual person.

Co-equal with the individual's right to exist
as such is the American regard for his opportunity
to compete. As American society has become
more complex, both the individual and his oppor-
tunity have had to respond to regulation by law
in order to equalize liberty to act and the area
of opportunity in which action becomes possible.
Under criticism, it is not the time lags in the
American society that should be stressed, but the
regulatory safeguards to unlimited competition
and the statutory and legal decisions which under
social impetus continuously press on to substitute
fulfillment for the incompletions of an evolving
democratic society.

The competitive factor in the American scheme
contains an enduring stimulus to new techniques
in living and differentiates us from the frozen mold
of monolithic societies. Social and economic ex-
periment on a stable time enduring foundation
is the sign of a living social organism. Every

Departmenf of State Bulletin

effort must be made by the propagandist to keep
informed of and to exhibit tlie rehition of our
social and political system and its traditional
underlying democratic concepts to the develop-
ment of our economic order, its benefits, and its

Without invalidating the principle of objec-
tivity, the United States propagandist is always
concerned with selectivity. Whether it is a
formal process or subconscious and intuitive, he
is always asking. "What do I intend to impart?
To whom am I talking?" His selection of facts
will be governed largely by the answers to these
questions. His pro]iaganda approach in each par-
ticular instance will be incomplete until he has
also selected his primary carrier and the psycho-
logical means he intends to use. Soviet propa-
ganda for 2 years has tried to "commit" the United
States in the eyes of the world to the role of a
war-intentioned power. Conversely, the responsi-
bilit}' of the United States propagandist is to tag
the Soviet power indelibly with the phantom
"peace" behind which it exerts all the instruments
of tj'ranny and force. The disparity between
Soviet statement and action must continuously be

The principle of "committing" an adversary in
the world's eyes to more than he can or will ac-
complish is always an effective propaganda instru-
ment. In addition, the United States propagan-
dist must remember that, aside from his assumed
target, he has an eavesdropping audience — often
the most important one.

The transmission of understanding from one
people to another can be carried out only across
the bridge of whatever understanding already
exists between them. To portray the major sig-
nificant aspects of American life is not enough;
these can be effectively interpreted and under-
standing be inculcated only in terms of the famil-
iar and homely facts which underlie equally the
life of Americans and of those whose understand-
ing we seek to enlist, coupled with respect for the
indigenous culture of those who are addressed.

To speak in the ways of the peoples to whom
propaganda is addressed through what is familiar
toward what is to be related holds as much for
visual information as it does for what is written
and spoken ; it exceeds the limits of merely literal,
visual, lingual, and phonetic requirements. It
concerns the basic symbols of thought and expres-
sion in which foreign peoples think and conduct

their intellectual, spiritual, and social affairs. It
is 0(iually true that the projection of United States
information abroad must take into account the
different levels of literacy and of social and eco-
nomic position that exist in any one national
grouiJ. The Indian farmer cannot bo addressed
in the same language as the scientist or the

United States foreign information and educa-
tional exchange services have also a larger prov-
ince than American life. The true facts about the
contemporary global scene in all its aspects must
be reflected over and over and in many penetrating
ways to those who are ignorant or are dangerously
deceived. In the interchange of persons and cul-
tural elements, we must understand how to use
the spiritual and physical strength — our great
accumulation of technical knowledge and experi-
ence and the moral credit of the United States —
to penetrate through barriers of race, custom, and
language to the hopes and fears of peoples whose
thoughts and behavior we wish to influence; and
equally to maintain an accurate picture before the
world of the potential resource and power of our
will to peace.

Organizing a Propaganda Program

A continuous long-term propaganda program
must have an organized method of measuring its
effectiveness. Skillful projection to the target
cannot depend only on background intelligence
and the propagandist's intuition. Only by a
proved system of evaluation can he be assured
that he is not wasting effort and national funds.
Moreover, a well-established evaluation system
supported by propaganda analysis becomes a peri-
scope by which the propagandist is able to see
into the minds and behavior patterns of his target.

Wliat tomorrow's international world will be,
its shape, and content, is foreseeable in only a
general sense. That part of it, however, which
may be termed "the predictable future" in the con-
text of United States foreign policy formulation,
must, by its very nature, be identifiable with the
attainment of United States foreign policy objec-
tives. Although world political systems evince
little of the precision of celestial mechanics, policy
formulation is bound to act on the assumption
that, within certain psychological limits, specified
causes will account for specified results.

It is in respect of the relation between the im-
minent present and the foreseeable future that

June J 9, 1950


United States foreign information policy must, in
its most significant phases, find a comprehending
principle. These two separate time dimensions,
each with its own forces and casual relations,
are nevertheless inescapably connected and flowing
one into the other. Overtaking and fulfilling the
purposes of the present should add to the possi-
bility of attaining the objectives of 5 years from
now. The policies underlying short-range and
long-range United States foreign information
must each comprehend the other. Short range
information activities, even concentrated as they
must be on significant current actions, should be
in a mood and tone of quiet assurance that the ac-
complishment of the long-range objectives of
United States policy will be attained — that the
United States Government and the free govern-
ments with which it is associated will, by reason-
able but firm means, rebuild a peaceful and pro-
ductive world in which the hindrances to free
intercourse between peoples will have been

In this "predictable future" one cannot presume
that all misunderstandings between peoples will
have vanished or that the people and institutions
of the United States will be seen clearly and with-

out distortion in the international perspective and
with complete understanding. This consumma-
tion devoutly to be wished cannot be one sided;
to be seen in our true shape and color will require
that we receive full benefit from those who come
to the United States in the exchange programs and
that we continue to be encouraged beyond the
stimulus of war to understand other people and
other ways. The organic society developed by
the people of the United States has been extraor-
dinarily marked by its capacity for change, for
its ability to develop to the utmost within the area
of its traditions and concepts, its human and ma-
terial resources. This development is the poten-
tial of a free society.

In addition to the stimulus of increasing indus-
trialization, American society is now responding
to the accelerated impulses of the emerging Amer-
ican world position. In reflecting the United
States to other nations, we cannot avoid taking
account these changes. An adequate portrayal of
America abroad and an accurate index to con-
temporary American life may require a revalua-
tion of American mores today, a study of possible
changes in our national texture and purposes after
a quarter century of world wars.

U.S. Informational Aims in the Cold War

l)y Edward W. Barrett

Ass-istant Secretary for Public Affairs ^

Wliat about the many areas of the world which
the Soviet Union still has not been able to domi-
nate? What are they trying to do there? The
Russian dictators seem to have given up hope —
at least temporarily — of winning the mass of the
people over to their side, but they have intensified
their propaganda witli another object. As a lead-
ing French journalist put it the other day, the
Kremlin is pushing a mass attack to discredit us
among these peoples, to picture us as self-seeking
imperialists. If they can't win allies, they at least
may disaffect these people and turn them
us. The Kremlin is making a strenuous effort to
build up sentiment for neutrality. That is the

' Excerpts from an aildrpss made before the New York
Professional Chapter of Sigma Delta Chi, New York, N.Y.
on May 18. For complete text, see Department of State
press release 513.

increasing threat we face in the areas not under
Soviet domination.

What are we doing to combat all this?

First, so far as the Iron Curtain is concerned,
we have a mighty weapon — radio. Radio is the
one major medium which can bypass censorship
and sii])pression of news, can hurdle over locked
fi-onticrs, can blast its way even through iron
curtains, and can reach peoples at all educational
and cultural levels. We are using this weapon to
pour in a stream of factual reporting and news
analysis as a corrective to distortions and slanders
against American life, aims, and policies and to
expose the lies, hypocrisy, and brutality of the
Soviet and satellite Governments.

Recently, as you know, we have mot a desperate

Online LibraryUnited States. Dept. of State. Office of Public CoDepartment of State bulletin (Volume v. 22, Apr- Jun 1950) → online text (page 95 of 116)