John F. Kennedy
Sunday, October 23rd 2016
In a valuable essay, intelligence analyst Darren E. Tromblay fleshed out concepts of “hybrid warfare” by describing four paradigms – “nullification of political actors,” “assistance to anti-government movements,” “appearing to fill needs / wants that the U.S. government cannot,” and “fomenting distrust of the U.S. policymaking process, in order to sap its legitimacy.” This gist includes the sections of Tromblay’s article that addressed the latter. He recalled many instances of Soviet disinformation.
Sunday, December 20th 2015
There’s an abundant historical literature on Public Diplomacy, and a July 24, 2015, report published by the Legatum Institute, “Counter Propaganda: Cases from US Public Diplomacy and Beyond,” provides a crisp historical review. The author is Professor Nicholas Cull of the University of Southern California, well known as the author of the magisterial The Cold War and the United States Information Agency 1945-1989 (Cambridge University Press, 2008). For Public Diplomacy, propaganda, and counter-propaganda, the report includes principles, case studies, historical lessons learned, and recommendations in only 12 pages of text.
Professor Cull’s review of propaganda through the 1930s is full of cautionary examples, well explains the word’s negative associations, and summarizes the post-World War I debate to define what is licit and illicit. The compact section on World War II and the longer portion on the Cold War are full of instructive examples – too many forgotten – that still echo in America’s approach to Public Diplomacy.Read More
Saturday, December 19th 2015
Public Diplomacy officers – in their roles as Information Officers at Foreign Service posts and public affairs officers in State Department bureaus – always have a professional interest in how government and the media interact. When roles are debated, the Vietnam War looms as a large case study. Recall that during the war, the U.S. Information Agency and the Joint U.S. Public Affairs Office (JUSPAO, under USIA’s Barry Zorthian) was the primary venue for briefing the media in Saigon.
Professor John F. Guilmartin Jr., Professor of History at Ohio State University, challenged much of the conventional wisdom on the war in the 2014 General Andrew J. Goodpaster Lecture, “The Vietnam War: Realities, Myths and Misconceptions,” sponsored by the American Veterans’ Institute. Here are a few excerpts that relate to the media and how they portrayed the war to the American public. I also include the headers on Guilmartin’s list of “myths.” Click on the full text of the lecture for his supporting case studies and argumentation.Read More
Friday, October 30th 2015
During his term in office, President John F. Kennedy was vexed by leaks to the press on foreign policy issues. On November 8, 1963, Under Secretary of State George Ball (1909-1994) sent the President a memorandum and an insightful 8-page primer on how leaks occur and how to improve the Department’s dealing with the media. More than half a century later, the memorandum well expresses principles for the Department -- especially the Bureau of Public Affairs, public affairs advisors in the bureaus, and information officers at embassies.Read More
Friday, October 2nd 2015
The Voice of America often seems battered by controversy. Critics say that it is U.S. propaganda – or that it insufficiently supports U.S. policies. Its work has been tangled by quarrels over language services and means of transmission. It has long had to do more with less. Its people have had to dodge many slings and arrows of partisanship.
The doctor prescribes some fresh air – the words of President John F. Kennedy when he visited VOA on its 20th anniversary on February 26, 1962.
It’s fair to say that the President’s understanding of U.S. overseas broadcasting also applied to Public Diplomacy while Edward R. Murrow was the Director of the U.S. Information Agency. Many of JFK’s words are still in the DNA of U.S. Public Diplomacy.Read More