69. Memorandum From the Special Assistant to the Director of the United States Information Agency (White) to the Director (Marks)1


  • PAO Replies on Programs

I have marked with clips the parts in the PAO replies for your attention, either because of special interest or because they are typical of the tenor of the replies.2

I also suggest you may want to read fully at least one reply from each area, since this will give you the flavor of the thinking of the PAO’s. Good replies for this purpose are from Colombia, UAR, Tanzania, U.K., Hungary, and Laos.

Note the summaries done by two of the Area Directors, for Latin America and Africa.

There are, of course, great differences in the problems and programs between areas and even within a given area. Yet certain common themes stand out.

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1. Need for confidence in the U.S.—a strong common thread throughout, with variations by area, e.g., questioning of American reliability and quality of leadership (in Western Europe); a heritage of resentment accentuated by fears that the U.S. may be returning to old patterns of unilateral intervention (in Latin America); suspicion of the U.S. and skepticism as to the value of collaborating with the West (in Africa). The need for deeper understanding as the necessary basis for confidence and cooperation is almost universally reported.

2. The communist challenge—not only direct threats of communist subversion, but also the ideological appeal of Marxism (on Soviet, Chinese, Castroite or other model) as the wave of the future. While particularly strong in some of the developing areas, this appeal is likewise cited among influential intellectual circles in more sophisticated and stable countries.

3. Disagreement with the U.S. on specific issues of foreign policy—especially Vietnam at the present time.

4. Internal weaknesses and instability—lack of effective governments responsive to the people; problems of economic and social development, of moving traditional societies into the modern era. Psychological problems are manifold, such as frustrations caused by the “revolution of rising expectations”; lack of national unity and identification; the “search for dignity”. These are mentioned most often in the developing areas, but by no means exclusively: e.g., Rome cites lack of strength of democratic institutions as the basic problem for the U.S. in Italy.

5. Basic factors limiting USIS leverage—in some countries, obsession with one particular problem which sets the climate of opinion and highly limits USIS freedom of action (e.g., Arab nations’ over Israel, Pakistan’s over Kashmir); emotional attitudes (e.g., hatred of “imperialists” in ex-colonial countries) which color all thinking and limit receptivity to fact and reason; the problem of how to build meaningful bridges to the developing nations with problems and outlook so different from ours (mentioned particularly in Africa). Some PAO’s point out that the process of education is gradual and changing fundamental attitudes takes time.


1. Maintain a dialogue, open channels of communications—a fundamental objective in most countries and the principal one in some, where USIS potential is highly limited for the present. In Eastern Europe the aim is sometimes expressed as “ventilating closed societies”. In certain situations, we can do little more than open doors, bring in Western ideas, and begin to talk. In others, the dialogue and introduction of ideas serves as the basis for more directed actions.

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2. Build confidence in the United States—create better understanding of the U.S. as a means of gaining the confidence necessary for collaboration, a prime objective in most cases. This is the basic justification for the projection of the U.S. as a central part of country programs. (In many cases, U.S. experience and ideas are also used as examples on which nations may draw for solving their own internal problems.)

3. Explain and gain support for U.S. policies, with chief emphasis at present on Vietnam.

4. Counter the communist threat—in varying degrees and forms in most programs.

5. Influence internal development, political, economic, social. A leading example is Vietnam, where the prime objective is to create support for the GVN on the part of the Vietnamese people. “Nation-building” figures in several programs, with emphasis on strengthening national unity and popular support for the government. Some concentrate on inculcating principles of democracy. Other programs seek to influence attitudes on economic issues, such as the need for socially-controlled private enterprise. In Eastern Europe, nudging the regimes toward liberatization is a prime aim; in Latin America, motivation to carry out the goals of the Alliance for Progress.3


Personal contact is usually first choice. Other preferred techniques vary according to the local situation, but cultural exchanges are most frequently near the top of the list.


With few exceptions, posts say their programs are primarily directed at opinion leaders—in the communications media, government, politics, military, labor, education, cultural and intellectual worlds.


Most posts list a number of peripheral activities eliminated and maintain they are now down to essentials.


A surprising number of PAO’s do not ask for more of either, although many plead for both, particularly posts that have been cut to a minimum operation.

Some ask for higher quality media and CU support rather than more money in GOE.

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When PAO’s request more American personnel, the reasons usually are (1) to expand personal contact and (2) to work more outside the capital city. In small posts, PAO’s frequently want an administrative assistant or American secretary to free themselves from office routine for contacts and program activities.

The requests for money cover a great variety of activities. In Latin America, binational centers would get priority on additional funds. Many posts point to the need for more adequate space for offices and information centers.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 306, DIRCTR Files Bx 33–36, 1966: Acc. #69–A–3445 [E], Entry UD WW 193, Box 33, I—The Director’s Office (January though March, 1966). Confidential. Drafted by White. A copy was sent to Chernoff. An attached January 25 covering note from White to Moore indicates that White sent the memorandum to Moore for his information.
  2. The clips were not found attached.
  3. See footnote 2, Document 68.