5. Report Prepared by the Task Force on the United States Information Agency1
[Omitted here are the cover page, a listing of members, and the table of contents.]
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR ACTION
A. Recommendations for Executive Action
1. The Role of USIA and its Director
(a) Retain the present status of USIA as an independent agency reporting directly to the President.
(b) Designate the Director of USIA as Chief Adviser to the President and members of the Cabinet on the psychological aspects of international problems.
(c) Invite the Director of USIA to attend Cabinet meetings on a regular basis.
(d) Designate the Director of USIA an ex officio member of the National Security Council pending statutory membership.
(e) Establish under the National Security Council a Committee on Information and Exchange Policy, consisting of:
(i) The Director of USIA.
(ii) The Under Secretary of State.
(iii) The Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs.
(iv) The Director of CIA.
(v) The Director of ICA.
(vi) One or two public members.
2. Exchange of Persons
(a) Direct USIA to coordinate and act as a clearinghouse for information on all exchange of persons activities, both governmental and private.
(b) Direct that the Public Affairs Officer at United States overseas missions coordinate all United States government-sponsored exchange of persons activities within the country.
(c) Direct the Committee on Information and Exchange Policy to develop a program of improved selection, orientation, handling, briefing and follow-up for persons involved in exchange programs.
(d) Direct USIA to develop a program for coordination and guidance of privately-sponsored exchange of persons programs.
3. Information Programs
(a) Direct USIA to develop a program to make available United States wire services to the newspapers serving critical foreign areas.
(b) Direct USIA to develop programs for distribution of United States books and magazines at competitive prices in key foreign areas.
(c) Direct USIA to develop a program for increased assistance to English-teaching in foreign educational institutions.
(d) Direct USIA to assume responsibility for arranging and conducting suitable Independence Day celebrations abroad, this activity to be subsequently budgeted by USIA.
(e) Direct that Foreign Service Officers, early in their careers, be given training and experience in international information and cultural programs.
B. Recommendations for Legislative Action
1. Submit legislation revising the role of USIA by:
(a) Re-naming it the International Exchange Agency or the United States Cultural Exchange Agency.
(b) Transferring to the new agency the following related programs now administered by other agencies:
1) Exchange of Persons (from the Department of State)
2) Cultural Presentations (from the Department of State)
3) Educational programs other than technical assistance (from ICA)
4) International Trade Fairs (from the Department of Commerce)
(c) Organizing the new agency into three major operating divisions for Educational, Cultural and Information Activities.
(d) Making the Director of the new agency a member of the National Security Council.
2. Request additional appropriations to increase the USIA FY 1962 budget from the anticipated $130 million to $150 million. (This figure [Page 20] is exclusive of programs proposed to be transferred to USIA which were previously budgeted by other agencies.)
3. Request legislation eliminating detailed restrictions on the use of foreign currencies derived from the sale of surplus agricultural commodities so as to make such funds subject to appropriation for all international education, cultural and information programs.
4. Request a supplemental appropriation to the President, to remain available as an emergency contingency fund until expended, in the amount of $100 million, for use in international education, cultural and information programs.
5. Request Congress to authorize and appropriate funds for:
(a) a career service for USIA;
(b) adjustment of salaries of USIA personnel so as to correspond to those applicable to similar positions in the Department of State;
(c) a more adequate training program, both within the government and at private universities, for USIA personnel;
(d) an increase in the funds available to the Office of Research and Analysis for contracting for surveys and research from $122,500 to $300,000;
(e) an amount not to exceed $1 million for FY ’62 to cover the costs of needed experts for, and studies to be made by, the proposed Committee on Information and Exchange Policy.
C. Recommendations for International Negotiation
1. Direct USIA to develop educational and other exchange of persons programs in conjunction with other friendly countries on a bi-lateral or multi-lateral basis.
D. Recommendations for Further Study and Consideration
1. Direct USIA to re-evaluate the effectiveness of exchange programs with unfriendly countries and to make recommendations for increasing their effectiveness for achieving United States objectives.
I. The Dependence on Sound Substantive Policies
A. Limits on Cultural and Information Activities
The Task Force is under no illusions that any modifications in the information and cultural machinery of government can reverse the unfavorable trends in the psychological position of the United States abroad. We cannot put a good face on unsound or inadequate policies or unwise actions by information or cultural operations, let alone by slogans or propaganda gimmicks.[Page 21]
B. Basic Policy Recommendations
Fundamentally, the decline in United States prestige can be arrested only by more dynamic Presidential leadership, a much clearer sense of our national purposes, sound substantive policies and better coordinated programs for accomplishing them. Among important specifics, reversal of the recent trend will require that the United States
1) adopt a posture toward the world and its problems, and pursue policies and programs motivated by considerations more positive than mere anti-communism;
2) identify itself in a more vital way with “the revolution of rising expectations” now sweeping the world, rather than continue to be identified as the defender of the status quo;
3) use all of its programs in the underdeveloped areas (including its information and cultural activities) to develop frameworks of free governments, within which the aspirations of the people can ultimately be met;
4) come to terms with the spirit of nationalism (and concomitant feelings about racism) which constitutes the most powerful emotional force now at work in the Afro-Asian countries;
5) do a more effective and imaginative job of waging the psychological war against Communism behind the Iron Curtain, rather than continuing to allow the Communists to choose psychological battle grounds on Free World territory, with relatively little disruption behind their lines.
C. Need to Consider Psychological Effects
The Task Force is fully aware that foreign reactions cannot be the controlling element in the formulation of substantive United States policies; that measures in the furtherance of America’s broader interests may be unpopular in certain parts of the world; that psychological considerations are not separable from political ones and are only one of the factors that must be considered in the evolution of sound policies. At the same time, if unfavorable trends of foreign opinion are to be reversed, psychological considerations must be taken into account on a more regular, systematic basis than has been true in the past, not only in the conduct of our information and cultural operations, but at the level of the President, the Secretary of State and all other major officials who make statements, develop policies and decide on action or non-action by the United States Government.
D. No Substitute for Foresight
In this connection, no machinery can substitute for a President and Cabinet members who anticipate foreign reactions before they talk or act. However, the Task Force believes that given proper support by the President and his Cabinet the recommendations proposed herein [Page 22] can insure that psychological considerations are at least not overlooked when policies are being formulated, and that success can be achieved in coordinating the policies and actions of the manifold agencies whose operations, whether domestic or international, have psychological impact abroad.
II. Failures of the United States Information and Cultural Programs
A. Failures at the Top
Considering the severe limitations to which they have been subjected in recent years, the staffs of the international information, education and cultural arms of the Government have functioned remarkably well. With some exceptions, however, the programs which they have been asked to carry out have become pedestrian and routine. Furthermore, other weaknesses have limited the staff’s effectiveness—deficiencies which must also be rectified if the United States is to regain prestige abroad. By and large, for example, the President, his Cabinet and their staffs have failed to:
1) infuse psychological considerations, on a systematic basis, into the formulation and execution of substantive policies which have or could have psychological impact;
2) develop clear-cut, meaningful, long-range objectives (world-wide and country-by-country) toward which our international information, education and cultural programs and all the media should be working;
3) devise common informational themes to be stressed by all departments and agencies of the government, which would help define as well as achieve America’s psychological objectives;
4) determine on a priority basis and with sufficient precision the “target groups” to be emphasized in each country; more specifically to establish, on a sufficiently systematic and extensive basis, close, continuing working relationships with:
(a) new or emerging elites (e.g., military or urban middle-class), or
(b) urban labor and youth (particularly university students) in countries where they will play an increasingly important political role;
5) coordinate effectively the various informational and cultural tools available to the United States Government so as to attain long-range objectives in target areas as well as with target groups.
B. Need for Coordination
It is recommended below that certain exchange of persons, educational and cultural programs now being conducted by other agencies be transferred to USIA. In the case of certain other activities, however, such as those of CIA and the Department of Defense, such a step is not feasible. The problem is not one of amalgamation but of more effective coordination.[Page 23]
C. The Failures Can Be Remedied
In the balance of the report the Task Force is making detailed recommendations to remedy these failures and to help regain United States prestige abroad. Not all the members of the Task Force expressed their opinions on all of these recommendations; not all of the recommendations are unanimous; but where any substantial or significant difference of opinion emerged, this fact is noted.
THE ROLE OF USIA AND ITS DIRECTOR
I. USIA to Remain Independent
The Task Force is virtually unanimous in recommending that the USIA continue as an independent agency reporting directly to the President. The Agency should not be transferred back into the State Department as the psychological aspects of international problems would become totally submerged; the activities of USIA involve operations and widespread administrative responsibilities, requiring specialized personnel unsuited to the State Department personnel structure; a large-scale reorganization with disruption of current operations would be required which the United States can ill afford at this juncture.
II. The Director of USIA
A. Adviser to the President and the Cabinet
The Director of USIA should be designated as the chief adviser to the President, the Secretary of State, and other members of the Cabinet on the psychological aspects of international problems and the attitudes of foreign peoples. His primary responsibility should be to call attention to the psychological considerations which must be taken into account in the formulation and execution of American foreign policy. Obviously the new Director of USIA should be someone who enjoys or could gain the full confidence and support of the President and his Cabinet.
B. Member of the NSC
To facilitate his role as chief adviser to the President and the Cabinet, the Director of USIA should be:
1) invited to attend Cabinet meetings on a regular basis;
2) made an ex officio member of the National Security Council pending statutory membership;
3) added to the membership of the Council by statute.
The principal aim of United States policy is often to produce a particular reaction by foreign leaders and peoples. It is only common sense that the foremost expert in predicting and creating opinion should be a member of the policy-making body and participate actively in its deliberations.[Page 24]
III. Committee on Information and Exchange Policy
A Committee on Information and Exchange Policy should be established within the framework of the National Security Council, with the responsibility to:
1) infuse psychological considerations, on a more effective, systematic basis, into the formulation and execution of United States policies and programs;
2) develop long-range psychological objectives toward which all appropriate arms of the Government should strive;
3) devise policies for exchange of persons, international education and other cultural activities to make them more useful in the attainment of United States objectives;
4) anticipate events, developments and Communist moves which will pose psychological problems and devise specific and coordinated programs for coping with them in advance;
5) assess on a periodic, independent basis, and devise ways of increasing United States prestige abroad;
6) propose measures for coordinating United States information and cultural policies and programs with those of other countries and organizations of the Free World;
7) devise specific programs for waging the psychological war more effectively behind the Iron Curtain.
The Committee would be composed of the following:
1) The Director of USIA (Chairman)
2) The Undersecretary of State (Chester Bowles)
3) The Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs (Paul Nitze)
4) The Director of CIA (Allen Dulles)
5) The Director of ICA
6) One or two public members (to be appointed by the President)
The Committee should have a relatively small, high-level staff whose primary purpose would be to develop ideas and originate material for presentation to the Bowles-Nitze-Dulles, etc. group. The staff would keep in close and constant touch with all pertinent governmental agencies, draw upon outside, non-governmental experts and consultants, utilize policy studies, analyses and social science research undertaken within the government or commissioned to outside experts or organizations, and establish liaison with such non-governmental activi[Page 25]ties as those of the American Committee for Liberation, the Free Europe Committee and the Asia Foundation.
D. Other Views
Some members of the Task Force thought the functions suggested for the Committee should be the responsibility of the Director of USIA; another that they should be the responsibility of the Department of State. About two-thirds of the Task Force, however, favored the recommendation on the grounds that the functions proposed cannot be effectively performed at the level of any one of the several agencies of the government which are directly concerned; that the functions specified require a coordinated effort by a number of agencies which can only be assured structurally through the formation of a board or committee; and that this committee to be effective should be set up at no lower level than within the framework of the NSC.
IV. Transfer of Certain Programs to USIA
A. Task Force Recommendation
Programs now being administered by other agencies, but which are integrally related to programs conducted by USIA, should be transferred to USIA to insure a coordinated effort toward the accomplishment of the objectives to be developed by the Committee on Information and Exchange Policy:
a) The Exchange of Persons Program (now in the State Department);
b) The Cultural Presentations Program (under the President’s Special International Program, now in the State Department);
c) The educational, book and English-teaching programs now being conducted by ICA which are not confined to technical assistance training;
d) The International Trade Fair Program (now in Commerce).
B. Other Views
The proposals to transfer the exchange of persons and cultural presentations programs from State to USIA are proposals on which the Task Force is not unanimous. Some members believe that such programs should be handled by private or semi-public organizations rather than by governmental agencies. Others feel that transferring these programs to USIA, which they consider a propaganda agency, would contaminate them and lead to their being used for propaganda purposes; that “education” and “culture”, in other words, should be kept separate from “information”. In addition, it should be noted that Senator Fulbright and many individuals and organizations in the educational community, would probably oppose such transfers, particularly of the exchange of persons program. Nevertheless, the majority of the Task Force feels that such a shift should be made, chiefly on the [Page 26] ground that it would greatly facilitate the coordinated use of integrally related tools for accomplishing, not short-term propaganda effects, but long-range United States objectives. Opposition to the proposal to transfer the educational, book and English-teaching programs now being conducted by ICA to USIA is less intense. Current expenditures on the ICA educational programs alone probably equal or exceed the total operating budget for USIA!
V. Change in Name and Organization of USIA
Considering the proposed changes governing USIA’s cultural activities, the Task Force suggests that legislation be sought to:
A. Change the name of USIA to the International Exchange Agency or The United States Cultural Exchange Agency;
B. Reorganize the new agency into three major operating divisions:
1) Educational Exchange;
2) Cultural Affairs;
3) Information Services.
The Task Force believes that these modifications would help to quiet apprehensions at home and abroad that USIA is nothing but a “propaganda” agency and, as such, one with which educational and cultural activities should not be identified.
[Omitted here is Part Four—Exchange of Persons.]
SPECIFIC PROGRAM RECOMMENDATIONS
I. Scope of Task Force Recommendations
The Task Force has had neither the time nor the access to USIA records and personnel necessary for a meaningful critique of the specific media programs now conducted in the information field. There has been within USIA an almost continual review of the techniques and adequacy of the agency’s use of various media—radio and television, official press services, motion pictures, libraries, etc. The results of these studies will unquestionably be available to your Director of USIA when he is appointed. A useful reappraisal of these programs to determine whether proper emphasis is being placed on the given media and whether additional appropriations are required to expand a particular activity must of necessity proceed on a country by country basis. The Task Force has concluded that this is beyond its capability. However, it does wish to make certain recommendations in terms of new programs which it believes deserve the immediate attention of your Director of USIA.[Page 27]
II. Use of Press Services to Distribute Accurate News About the United States
In many areas of the world newspapers cannot afford the rates charged by the Associated Press and United Press International wire services. As a result, in key areas news media are almost completely dependent on cheaper foreign press services for news about events in the United States. This necessarily results in a more limited amount of coverage and also in foreign peoples consistently being exposed only to foreign interpretations of events in the United States and their significance.
We recommend that you instruct the Director of USIA to immediately explore possible governmental action to make United States wire services available to newspapers in key foreign countries, if necessary through direct government subsidy, to permit rates competitive with European services.
III. Availability of United States Books in Foreign Countries
Elsewhere in this Report the Task Force has urged greater recognition of the importance of directing information and cultural activities toward emerging power elites and particularly students and intellectuals who will wield increasing political power in emerging underdeveloped nations. One indispensable means of influencing such groups is by exposing them to the best political, economic, social and scientific thought of the United States. This can be accomplished only by placing in their hands the books and magazines through which such thought is conveyed. Books published in the United States, even the less expensive paperbound editions, are still prohibitively expensive in many critical areas of the world. This is particularly true because they are competing in a market flooded by cheap, subsidized Soviet publications. You should instruct your Director of USIA to immediately prepare programs for distribution of books and magazines, where necessary in translation, at prices which make them easily available. It appears probable that the most feasible solution again may be direct subsidy of foreign distribution by United States publishers.
IV. English Teaching Programs
The Committee on Information and Exchange Policy, through the appropriate United States agencies, should provide for greatly increased assistance to English teaching in educational institutions throughout the world. It should also provide coordination for supplementary English-teaching programs under United States auspices, where these are required.
V. Fourth of July Celebrations
Responsibility should be transferred to USIA for arranging and conducting Independence Day celebrations abroad, with an adequate [Page 28] appropriation for this purpose. The USIA is in a unique position, through its field posts, to handle Fourth of July celebrations which will be properly symbolic of American ideals and traditions. Transferring this responsibility to USIA will also free the Department of State “representation” allowances from the substantial drain of Independence Day observances.
VI. Foreign Service Officers
Foreign Service Officers, early in their career, should be required to have training and experience in international information and cultural programs. Sensitivity to and competence in the psychological aspects of foreign policy must become “built into” our State Department and Foreign Service. Today, the Foreign Service has a definite “blind spot” and prejudice when it comes to the psychological aspects of international affairs—tendencies which, almost by heredity, are being handed down from one generation of Foreign Service Officers to the next. There must be a mutation in this process if the ideal is ever to be achieved: a State Department and Foreign Service capable of taking into account, automatically and instinctively, the psychological considerations necessary for American foreign policy to accomplish its objectives abroad.
[Omitted here is Part Six—Budget and Administration.]
- Source: Kennedy Library, Pre-Presidential Papers, Transition Files—Transition Reports, Transition Reports 1960, Box 1072, United States Information Agency—Task Force Report. Confidential. Free and Davison chaired the Task Force on USIA; its members were Alexander, Almond, Barrett, Bingham, Blum, Bogart, Cantrill, Carlson, Carroll, Cleveland, Fischer, Gallup, Carl Marcy, May, Murrow, Neilson, Oshins, deSola Pool, Sargeant, Speier, Strauss-Hupe, and Thompson. The Task Force was an outgrowth of a study undertaken by Stevenson, aided by Ball and Sharon, regarding foreign policy issues. The resultant report outlined decisions Kennedy needed to make during the transition and the foreign policy challenges facing the administration following the inauguration. According to The New York Times, Sharon had suggested that Kennedy “go beyond the report and use the pre-Inauguration period to set up task forces on United States foreign policy—what it has been, what is wrong with it, the decisions and actions ahead.” (Dana Adams Schmidt, “Kennedy Gets Aid on Foreign Policy: Dozen Groups Assay Wide Area of Problems—Will Offer Ideas by Dec. 31,” December 20, 1960, p. 36)↩