head shot of Barry Zorthian

Lessons of Counterinsurgency: A Word from Barry Zorthian

During the Vietnam War, Barry Zorthian (1920-2010) was the Director of the U.S. Information Service in Saigon, and he was the prime mover in establishing the Joint United States Public Affairs Office (JUSPAO).  JUSPAO brought together the media operations of the State Department, the U.S. Information Service, USAID, the CIA, and the Military Assistance Command,…

Voting booths on a table top

Autumn 2018: Two National Elections in Starkly Different Settings

If you have voted for a new parliament in Afghanistan, or are a U.S. citizen planning to cast your ballot November 8, pause — and consider the contrasts. These came to mind at a briefing by the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM), which surveys its audiences and shares results.  In Afghanistan, half of eligible…

Single orange grows on an apple tree

Apples and Oranges Don’t Grow on the Same Tree

The announcement that the State Department may merge the Bureau of Public Affairs and the calls to mind George Santayana’s warning that “those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Let’s master the information needs of the twenty-first century without forgetting the lessons of the twentieth. Efforts to co-mingle foreign and…

President Dwight D. Eisenhower meeting with Secretary of State John Foster Dulles at the White House.

1957: Eisenhower, Dulles and merging USIA back into State, or Not

On Friday morning, January 18, 1957, Arthur Larson gave a lengthy and wide-ranging presentation on the United States Information Agency to President Eisenhower’s cabinet. After 22 months as under secretary at the Labor Department, and now one month as USIA Director, Larson used charts, maps, and film clips to describe the barely four-year-old agency. The nearly three dozen attendees…