Selection and commentary by PDC members and authoritative experts in the field
Tuesday, July 28th 2015
In a speech to the Public Affairs Institute of the University of Virginia on July 8, 1939, the Assistant Chief of the Division of Cultural Relations of the Department of State, Charles A. Thomson, spoke of “The Profits of Cultural Interchange.” Not “benefits,” but “profits.”
Monday, July 27th 2015
In 1948, Congress, the Truman administration, and the State Department were considering how best to organize information and cultural programs that had been launched during or after the Second World War by the Office of War Information, the Coordinator for Interamerican Affairs, U.S. Information Service offices, and broadcasting. The Brookings Institution issued a major (397 pages) report, Overseas Information Service of the United States Government.
Our international commitments and interests are now so large that it is no longer prudent to ignore any instrument whereby those commitments can be discharged and those interests safeguarded. The time has passed when it is possible for us to conduct our foreign relations expeditiously and successfully by traditional diplomatic, economic, and military means. The challenges of other powers to our international action, by propaganda, politics, economic pressure, or violence have forced us to specify our foreign interests in more comprehensiveness and detail than ever before, and to examine our resources for securing them. Our leaders, trained in the traditions of a limited world role, and skilled in the devices appropriate to it, are having to educate themselves and build the machinery adequate for current struggles, at the same time they are carrying out their new and larger world responsibilities.
Sunday, July 26th 2015
Differing with Under Secretary Stengel’s more optimistic assessment (see “Quotable” below), two senior Google executives said that ISIS’ voice is “a lot larger” and “a lot louder” on the Internet than the voice of its opponents in the U.S. and elsewhere. Some quotes:
David Drummond, Google Senior VP and Chief Legal officer:
Friday, July 24th 2015
In a July 24 op-ed in The Washington Post, “The United States is gaining ground against the Hashtag Jihadis,” Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Richard Stengel examined the “prevailing media narrative” that “the United States is ‘losing the digital war.’” “We are gaining ground and momentum,” he concluded.
Thursday, July 23rd 2015
The American poet Archibald MacLeish (1892-1982) was the Librarian of Congress during the Roosevelt administration from 1939 to 1944. In a career that bridged literature, the academy, and government, he later became Assistant Director of the Office of War Information, Assistant Secretary of State for Public and Cultural Relations, and a member of the U.S. UNESCO working group before returning to scholarship. In 1944 he traced the link between America’s freedom of the press and “exchange of information between the peoples of the world.”
The right to a free press — the right of the people to read and to hear and therefore to think as they please — is, I deeply believe, the basic right upon which freedom rests. Freedom of exchange of information between the peoples of the world is the extension into international relations of the basic democratic right of freedom of the press. Belief in the freedom of exchange of information rests upon the conviction that if the peoples of the world know the facts about each other, peace will be maintained, since peace is the common hope and the common cause of the people everywhere.