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
Friday, November 13th 2015
Marian Leighton, a former intelligence officer who specialized in Soviet affairs, recalled the “Soviet disinformation campaign during the 1980s that accused the United States of kidnapping and killing babies and children in the Third World in order to sell their organs.” Her article, “A New Baby Parts Scandal,” appeared in The Weekly Standard issue of November 2, 2015. Older Public Diplomacy officers will recall USIA’s work to flag and refute the false charges. Here are bullet points from the review of the Soviet campaigns:
- The Kremlin was a master of disinformation, a tool that it employed to mislead and manipulate a target audience—an audience that in the case of the body parts campaign was public opinion both in America and abroad.
- The ruling Communist Party of the Soviet Union constructed an entire apparatus within the KGB (the Soviet intelligence service) to formulate and disseminate disinformation on themes created by the party’s Central Committee. KGB chief Yuri Andropov, who later became the top Soviet leader, elevated the service’s Disinformation Department to the status of an independent directorate to signify its importance.