21. Memorandum From the Assistant Director for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, United States Information Agency (Brady) to the Director of the United States Information Agency (Rowan)1

The President’s speech2 on building bridges with Eastern Europe indicates, I believe, that we should come up with our own concrete suggestions for implementation. These and some general thoughts on this subject are outlined in the attached paper.

Leslie S. Brady3


Paper Prepared in the United States Information Agency4

While the Department of State and other U.S. Government agencies will undoubtedly concern themselves with the political, economic and commercial implications of United States policy toward the countries of Eastern Europe as enunciated by President Johnson in his recent Lexington, Virginia speech,5 it is USIA’s particular responsibility and opportunity to consider the psychological implications and to build informational and cultural bridges.

The psychological approach is particularly important in creating the atmosphere necessary for establishing more substantial and concrete relations in fields of greatest interest to us. Conversely, the unrest—intellectual, economic, political and ideological—existing within the countries of Eastern Europe today provides us with opportunities to bring these people ideas and information from the United States.

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We must first seek to reach the opinion leaders in Eastern Europe with the information we want them to have and to interpret it for them. Our major goals should be to encourage liberalization within the countries of Eastern Europe, to further evolution away from political repression toward societies in which the leadership responds to the will of the people. Information and ideas will also help reestablish the traditional ties with the West which the people of Eastern Europe have been virtually denied during recent years.

In considering programs in which we now engage, activities which we envisage for the near future and plans which we have on a long-range basis, we make first the following general observations:

1. Some of our information and cultural activities—such as, for instance, the Voice of America—need no agreement by the respective governments and operate without it. Others do need their permission, but we believe that our goals can best be achieved without resorting to the negotiation of formal written agreements. We can probably do best by operating on an ad hoc basis as we presently do in Poland, by being flexible in our approach and by taking advantage of opportunities as they arise.

2. The United States stands to gain both by the exposure of American intellectuals and opinion leaders to the people of Eastern Europe and by the exposure of Eastern European men and women of influence to this country.

3. The Eastern European governments should be made to realize that the conduct of cultural and informational activities is consistent with normal friendly relations between countries and that these activities are our part of a quid-pro-quo for something they want. There should be at least tacit understanding on the part of these governments that our diplomatic missions will have free access to officials and private citizens in the pursuit of legitimate cultural activities and that the citizens of the respective countries will have access to the cultural activities of the U.S. missions (library, film showings, English classes) without running the risk of harassment by local authorities. The missions of the Eastern European countries in Washington already enjoy analogous access here.

4. Our targets are those individuals in Eastern Europe who now and in the future will guide public opinion and attitudes. These include party and government officials, managers and “technocrats”, youth leaders, publicists and the intellectual elite. In communicating with the intellectual elite—the writers, creative artists and academicians—we must, however, strike a careful balance: On one hand, we want to encourage the “dissident” elements, those avant-gardists who are out of favor but who are bringing new life into intellectualism in Eastern Europe. On the other hand, we do not want to give them the kiss of [Page 59] death by singling them out for attention. But neither do we want to ignore the moderates among the intellectuals—as opposed to the reactionaries—these moderates being responsible for some of the liberalization which already has been achieved.

Following is a summary of our present activities and future recommendations:

1. Radio. VOA already broadcasts in all the Eastern European languages and no increase is contemplated. However, we are making constant efforts to make our programs more effective in terms of our present foreign policy objectives. VOA remains the single most important source of news from the United States and information about it. Now that jamming has ceased in all countries but Bulgaria, VOA’s potential has greatly increased.

2. Publications.

a. We should push for agreement for the sale of a prestige American publication such as Amerika6 (already being distributed in Poland—32,000 copies, and in the USSR—62,000 copies monthly). This type of publication would serve in place of commercially-published American periodicals, unless and until these are freely distributed in Eastern Europe. The United States would agree to the sale in this country of reciprocal publications.

b. We will push for publication of a Cultural Bulletin in Hungary and Czechoslovakia (as we now distribute in the other countries) and of a Science Bulletin (already being distributed in the USSR)—both in local languages. These bulletins give up-to-date news of events and accomplishments in the cultural and technical-scientific fields.

c. We should press to obtain wider circulation of Embassy daily information bulletins to editors, journalists and government officials and of press releases to these same individuals and to others who might be assumed to have special interest in a given press release.

d. We should continue judicious distribution of presentation materials—such as publications, films and elements for display—at the request of local citizens and organizations.

e. We should press officially and privately at all appropriate levels for sales of our commercial publications—books, periodicals, newspapers—in the countries of Eastern Europe thereby to achieve a freer flow of information.

3. Exhibits.

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a. We should continue to participate in international trade fairs in Eastern Europe and expand to include other trade fairs since they are an excellent platform from which to show the U.S. flag.

b. We should try to expand our current program of major solo exhibits such as those in plastics, transportation, communications, graphics, and medicine which will have been shown already successfully in some Eastern European countries (Rumania, Poland, Bulgaria).

4. Reading Rooms. In spite of categoric opposition to date by the Eastern European governments to the establishment of reciprocal reading rooms (or information centers), we should continue to press for them. We should stress that such reading rooms are part of normal diplomatic establishments in countries maintaining friendly relations with one another.

5. English Teaching Assistance. Since there is great interest in Eastern Europe in learning English, we believe that we can promote American ideas through this means. We are doing some of this now through the publication of the “English Teaching Forum”,7 through loans of language laboratories, and through participation in English teaching seminars.

6. Television and Radio. We should continue to try to place on Eastern European TV networks especially produced and targeted American TV and radio programs, including cultural features and possibly English teaching materials. We should also encourage American commercial and educational radio and TV networks to offer appropriate programs to these countries.

We should likewise encourage exchanges between the Eastern European International Broadcasting and Television Organization and the European Broadcasting Union.

7. Exchanges of People. One of the most effective means of strengthening ties between the people of Eastern Europe and the United States is an increased and free flow of individuals and groups of individuals—tourists, relatives, businessmen, teachers and students, or specialists in various fields visiting their counterparts. We should push particularly exchanges in the intellectual and cultural fields among writers, artists, journalists, educators, and youth leaders.

8. Exchanges with Western Europe. Since, as the President stated, we must work “. . . to demonstrate that identity of interest and the prospects of progress for Eastern Europe lie in a wider relationship with the West”, we should seize every opportunity to encourage the Western European countries to build similar bridges using methods delineated above and others which may be available to them.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 306, DIRCTR Subj. Files, 1963–69, Bx 6–29 63–69: Acc: #72A5121, Entry UD WW 257, Box 16, Field—Soviet Bloc (IAS) 1964. Confidential. Copies were sent to Wilson, Sorensen, EUR/EE, EUR/SES, CU, and S/AL.
  2. On May 23, Johnson delivered a speech at the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Virginia, in which he asserted: “We will continue to build bridges across the gulf which has divided us from Eastern Europe. They will be bridges of increased trade, of ideas, of visitors, and of humanitarian aid.” For text, see Public Papers: Johnson, 1963–1964, Book I, pp. 708–710.
  3. Brady initialed “LSB” above this typed signature.
  4. Confidential. No drafting information appears on the paper.
  5. See footnote 2, above.
  6. Reference is to a Russian-language USIA publication distributed in the Soviet Union.
  7. Reference is to a quarterly magazine publication first published by USIA in 1963.