74. Memorandum From the Assistant Director, Near East and South Asia, United States Information Agency (Carter) to the Director (Marks)1

Here are some general impressions I have formed after three months in this assignment, including a month-long field trip.

A.1. Many of our posts get locked into mechanisms and the general apparatus of the Agency; too many of our PAO’s lack a sufficient sense of detachment to enable them to cut out marginal activities or those which have outlived their usefulness; and, worse, we don’t often enough reshape a total program effort to new political and/or psychological situations.

2. The entire Agency—in Washington and in the field—would benefit by a reduction in total output. “The more the better” just ain’t true in this business; “more” is apt to further diffuse what should be a highly concentrated effort directed toward very specific audiences.

3. PAOs generally pay too little attention to material produced at the regional centers. It’s easy to incorporate this material into a program; just as easy to let it keep coming in without regular review of its value to a given program.

4. We’ve all got to be a lot tougher in our attitude toward taking on additional program activities. Otherwise we wind up with diffuse, activity oriented rather than tight, policy oriented programs.

These four concerns could best be attacked by more old-fashioned bossism by Area Directors and the front office. I think we engage in too many lengthy exchanges with the field over given program questions and ought, instead, to make a decision to cut, reduce, sharpen or improve and then make that decision stick.

B. There are three problems on which I feel the necessity for clarification here in Washington. I’m uncomfortable with the fact that our PAOs have varying views on these items, which are basic:

1. The purpose of English Teaching by USIA, regarded by some as an end in itself and by others (myself included) as a means to [Page 214] drawing appropriate target audiences into our program orbit. The one modification to this, I believe, is English Teaching in the bi-national centers.2 In this case English Teaching is a primary source of revenue. Even here, however, every effort should be made to attract target groups and then fill out the classes as necessary.

2. A lot of our programs keep requesting “how-to-do-it” materials and it is my judgement that this crosses into AID’s province. This isn’t a question of bureaucratic line-drawing; it’s a question of the function and purpose of an information agency. Here again I’d like to see a clear statement prepared for the field.

3. In my area, over the past few years, some bi-national centers have been closed and we’ve markedly reduced our support of others. Although there’s no one clear rule, it is my general impression that the less our support of any center, the weaker our control and the more likely that the center will not play its appropriate role. So, generally, what’s the Agency’s position vis-á-vis support—more or less?

C. Here’s a long-range concern: to the extent that our field operations are split into several buildings, to that extent is effectiveness diminished. When and as possible, we should work toward physically unified programs.

D. Finally, the most difficult problem and one which I think deserves a discussion with all Area and Media Directors. I am convinced that we are not communicating effectively with the intellectual community in much of our area. This is due in part to the semantic “gap” (basically, the different meaning applied to the terms socialism and capitalism, and the various sub-terms that flow from these); in part to official statements that leave unclear our position concerning private versus public sector enterprises (we sound, too often, like we’re only for private sector development); partly because we seem to be critical about revolutionary strains in our own society (we’re so defensive about kids in the SDS, SNCC, etc.); partly because our elite audience occasionally wants us to be against governments elected by a majority but which are status quo governments (an impossible position for us to take). Whatever the reasons, we’re not in effective communication [Page 215] and I’d like to see a discussion with appropriate people to see if others feel the problem and also to make some suggestions of my own.3

Alan Carter4
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 306, DIRCTR Files Bx 33–36, 1966: Acc. #69–A–3445 [E], Entry UD WW 193, Box 33, The Director’s Office (January through March, 1966). No classification marking. In response to this memorandum, Marks sent a February 2 memorandum to all area directors and all media directors drawing their attention to this memorandum and asking them: “Will you please give some thought to this and send your suggestions to me during the month of February?” Copies of Marks’ memorandum and replies from Smith; Weld, Jr.; and Littell, dated March 2, February 23, and February 28, respectively, are ibid.
  2. Reference is to independent, foreign institutions that served to promote mutual understanding between the United States and the host nation and generally worked closely with USIS offices, particularly in the area of English language teaching.
  3. An unknown hand drew a line in the right-hand margin next to the final sentence of this paragraph and wrote the following sentence at the bottom of the page, beneath Carter’s signature: “Our memo to Akers re scholarly + [several illegible words] on VN—other subjects—again too media oriented—” This memorandum to Akers was not found or further identified.
  4. Carter signed “A Carter” above this typed signature.