83. Memorandum From the Director of the United States Information Agency (Marks) to President Johnson1


  • American Prestige

Since you may be questioned about America’s prestige as a result of current press analyses you may wish to review our findings on the subject. Enclosed is a general summary of our latest World Survey of 22 countries and major cities around the world.2 The “Highlights” section, together with the accompanying charts, gives the gist of the story. The main highlights are underlined in red.

Briefly, the general esteem for the United States is still very high, whereas the esteem for the Soviet Union is still on the negative side of the scale. Any esteem for Communist China is hard to find.

General reaction to U.S. foreign policies is still far more favorable than unfavorable, as is the case with the “peace” image of America. Judgments of the overall national strength put the U.S. clearly out in front.

Trends are somewhat downward, however, in judgments of our foreign policies and our efforts to prevent another war. These trends result mainly from our Vietnam and Dominican involvements.

Although we do not have such quantitative measurements of your image as President, press and other analyses indicate that you share the high esteem of the nation and you share blame for some of the nation’s problems. Your determined and confident assumption of control after the assassination, your resoluteness and effectiveness on the civil rights front, your proclaiming the Great Society3 and gaining legislative support for it, and your “peace offensives” have been widely and highly admired. It is only when you are forced to take an action that can be interpreted as a danger to the peace of the world or the sovereignty of another state that your image suffers. Perhaps the truest [Page 239] index of your stature is the degree to which the bright image of President Kennedy has now faded.

Leonard H. Marks4
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 306, Office of Research and Reference, Office of the Asst. Dir. For Research and Analysis, Research Programs Files, 1961–1966, Entry P–89, Box 4, White House (2 of 2) 1963–1965. Confidential. There is no indication on the memorandum that Johnson saw it.
  2. Not found.
  3. The Great Society was Johnson’s initiative of social programs articulated in his May 22, 1964, commencement speech at the University of Michigan. For text, see Public Papers: Johnson, 1963–1964, Book I, pp. 704–707.
  4. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.