27. Infoguide From the United States Information Agency to Multiple Diplomatic and Consular Posts1

Infoguide No. 61–60

INFOGUIDE: USIS Support for Peace Corps Projects. Reference: Potomac Cable No. 151 of 4/19/61 (attached).2

[Page 90]

SITUATION

President Kennedy announced the first Peace Corps project (assistance to Tanganyika in road development and geological surveying) at his April 22 news conference.3 Public announcement of other Peace Corps projects may be expected in due course.

In each host country USIS has a responsibility for consultative as well as informational support, effective even before agreement on a local Peace Corps project is publicly announced.

In carrying out its responsibility, the post should avoid the impression that Peace Corps is in any sense an element of USIS. The USIS relationship to Peace Corps is in rendering supportive and advisory services inconspicuously as a member of the Country Team.

CONSULTATIVE SUPPORT (for posts where projects are contemplated or established)

As part of the Country Team, USIS will advise on psychological factors, positive and negative, that should be considered from the outset of program planning and exploration. This consultation should assure that program decisions take full account of foreseeable public-opinion contingencies and opportunities, and that potential impact on key target groups is considered.

INFORMATIONAL SUPPORT (for all posts)

The Peace Corps concept is in keeping with President Kennedy’s statement in his Inaugural Address, “to those people in the huts and villages of half the globe struggling to break the bonds of mass misery:”

“We pledge ourselves to help them help themselves, for whatever period is required—not because the Communists may be doing it, not because we seek their votes, but because it is right.”

The Potomac Cable under reference outlines the motivations and purposes of the Peace Corps. It embodies as well the important caution against premature or excessive publicity for the program. A copy of that Potomac Cable is attached to this message for your convenience.

The nature and volume of USIS-generated publicity about the Peace Corps should be determined within the framework of the Country Team. As a general rule, local publicity should be limited and essentially factual until the Peace Corps itself is firmly established legisla[Page 91]tively and operationally, i.e. until pilot projects are successfully under way and a reservoir of volunteers has been formed. Publicity should make clear, along the lines of the referenced Potomac Cable, the underlying philosophy and general terms of reference of the Peace Corps concept, taking care not to generate unwarranted expectations. This is an informational task, not a sales task.

In countries where Peace Corps projects are established, local publicity efforts should be based on Country Team agreement. Posts should file stories about the Peace Corps, whether generated by USIS or otherwise, back to the Agency for possible cross-reporting.

BACKGROUND

Posts should be familiar with and may draw upon, as appropriate, information in the “Peace Corps Fact Book,” copies of which have been airmailed to posts.

Murrow4
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 306, Office of Plans, General Subject Files, 1949–1970, Entry UD WW 382, Box 117, MASTER COPIES—Jan–Jun 1961. Official Use Only. Drafted by Meiklejohn and Pauker; cleared by Ehrman (IAA) and Battey (IAF) and in IAE, IAL, IAN, Peace Corps, and P/PG; approved by Sorensen. Pauker initialed for Meiklejohn and for all clearing officials. Sent via pouch to Accra, Addis Ababa, Amman, Ankara, Athens, Baghdad, Bangkok, Beirut (also for RSC), Bogota, Bonn, Buenos Aires, Cairo, Canberra, Colombo, Conakry, Dakar, Dar es Salaam, Djakarta, Guatemala City, Hong Kong, Jidda, Kabul, Kampala, Karachi, Katmandu, Khartoum, Kuala Lumpur, Lagos, La Paz, Leopoldville, Lima, Lisbon, London, Madrid, Manila (also for RSC), Managua, Mexico City, Mogadiscio, Monrovia, Nairobi, New Delhi, Nicosia, Panama City, Paris, Phnom Penh, Pretoria, Quito, Rabat, Rangoon, Rio de Janeiro, Rome, Saigon, Salisbury, San Jose, Santiago, Seoul, Singapore, Taipei, Tegucigalpa, Tehran, Tel Aviv, Tokyo, Tripoli, Tunis, Vientiane, Wellington, Yaounde, SECNAV, SECAF, ARMY/SPWAR, POLAD (CINCPAC), USCAR (Okinawa), and POLAD (USARYIS). Sent for information to OSD and JCS (JSAG).
  2. Not printed. The cable stated, in part: “The people of the United States have responded with enthusiasm to President Kennedy’s establishment of the Peace Corps. This response reflects the desire of the American people to work for greater international understanding and their conviction that greater exchange of knowledge and skills can advance the cause of peace in the world. But whatever the domestic response, the test of the Peace Corps will be its performance abroad.”
  3. The news conference took place on April 21. For the text, see Public Papers: Kennedy, 1961, pp. 307–315. In reference to the Peace Corps, Kennedy commented: “Twenty surveyors, 4 geologists, and 4 civil engineers will provide some of the skills needed to accelerate the development plan. There is nothing more important in Tanganyika than the development of roads to open up the country, and I am delighted that some Americans have volunteered to help in this important effort.” (Ibid., p. 307)
  4. Sorensen initialed under Murrow’s name. An unknown hand also wrote “sent 5/3” below the last sentence of the message.