25. Memorandum From the Director of the United States Information Agency (Rowan) to United States Information Agency Heads of Elements and Country Public Affairs Officers1


  • Assignment of Priority Project: Viet-Nam

The President has placed the highest priority on programs supporting U.S. determination “to use its strength to help those who are defending themselves against terror and aggression”2 instigated and supported by Hanoi and Peking in Viet-Nam and other nations of Southeast Asia. I have accordingly assured the President that USIA will spare no resource or effort in support of that objective.

We have almost doubled the size of our program in Viet-Nam and we have developed a coordinated, mission-wide psychological effort in support of the GVN.

In Washington, Mr. Robert Manning, Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs, has been charged with creating more positive public support in the United States for our policy.

A third and vital area of concern is the necessity to impress upon other nations that communist aggression and subversion in Southeast Asia is indeed a menace to Free World security and that deterrence of that aggression is a responsibility which all nations should share. To meet this need, the Agency must make a maximum effort through all media and in all possible countries to achieve the following objectives:

(1) to explain the nature and significance of the struggle,

(2) to expose the evil of communist aims and actions,

(3) to stress the collective responsibility which other nations must share to stop them,

(4) to publicize third nation participation and support, and

(5) to keep before world opinion U.S. determination to persist in its support of those Southeast Asian nations which have requested our assistance until the communist aggression is checked.

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We should all keep in mind that the communists view their aggression in Southeast Asia as a test case for “wars of national liberation” and that a communist victory there would sharply increase the likelihood of future such adventures elsewhere. We should strive to create in the minds of our audience a sense of individual identification with the struggle against communism in Southeast Asia.



(1) Under the direction of the Assistant Deputy Director for Media Content, the media will launch an expanded and sustained flow of products in support of this priority project. A listing of these products will be forthcoming from IOP along with guidance and Talking Papers as appropriate.

(2) In the meantime, the media should give priority treatment to Viet-Nam, and the objectives outlined, in their output. They should insure that all units of their operation are made aware of the priority I place on this project.


(1) Should first assess their capabilities and potential to forward the aims described above;

(2) Work with or through whatever local GVN representation may be present and with other friendly missions;

(3) Cross report editorial comment supporting our objectives; and

(4) Forward promptly any ideas on ways in which this project could be bettered, suggestions for media output, etc.

It will be the duty of Area Assistant Directors to insure that posts fulfill these responsibilities.

Carl T. Rowan3
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 306, Director’s Files: 1962–1965, Entry UD WW 191, Director’s Office 1964. Confidential.
  2. The quotation is from a statement that Johnson read at his June 23 news conference. For text, see Department of State Bulletin, July 6, 1964, pp. 46–47.
  3. Rowan signed “Carl T. Rowan” above this typed signature.