125. Report by the Psychological Strategy Board1

PSB D–30


[Omitted here are a list of references and a brief summary of the report.]

I. Status of the National Psychological Effort

The Board presents below a statement on the status of national psychological programs as of 30 June 1952. In submitting this statement the Board desires to emphasize the following general conclusions:

To be fully effective, psychological planning at the strategic level should ideally be based on an agreed overall strategic concept for our national psychological programs. While efforts to date underline the difficulties of formulating such a concept, some progress has been made in achieving agreement on certain broad criteria to be utilized in establishing relative priorities within existing capabilities. Further progress toward the development and implementation of an agreed strategic concept for our psychological effort can take place only in conjunction with a corresponding development of capabilities and resources and an accompanying adjustment of basic national policy.
The United States is not making significant progress in the psychological field toward its objective of reduction and retraction of Soviet power as laid down in NSC 20/4.2 In considering the total cold war position of the United States as contrasted with that position a year ago, it is evident that in certain areas, such as Western Europe, our position has been strengthened by the good progress recorded under NATO. However, there has been some deterioration of strength in certain other areas, notably in the Near East. But this should not necessarily be attributed to superior effectiveness of Soviet propaganda.
A major handicap in psychological operations outside of the Iron Curtain derives from growing resentment in parts of Asia and throughout much of Europe to a “made in America” label on part of our psychological output. Of even graver significance is the increasing [Page 306]reaction against the military character of some of our political and economic activity. Programs designed to have a deterrent effect on the Soviet Union are distorted and exploited by communist or anti-American propaganda and thus are occasioning resistance, neutralism, and charges of agressiveness to the detriment of our psychological effort.

The statement which follows is based on an analysis of current reports of the Department of State and the Department of Defense, of a report by field staff representatives of the Mutual Security Agency, and of a report by the Central Intelligence Agency, concerning their activities related to the national psychological effort during the fiscal year ending 30 June 1952.3

This statement is not presented as a full evaluation of the national psychological program during the period in question, the Board having decided that such an evaluation is not possible at this time. However, the reports on which it is based throw significant light on some aspects of the existing “cold war” situation. There emerges from them a picture of some substantial progress, mixed with many problems and obstacles which hinder a more complete achievement of our psychological objectives.

A. Outside the Iron Curtain

The general psychological situation in the non-Soviet world is not bright, but progress has been made in some areas.

In Western Europe the picture is spotty. On the one hand, progress is reported in containing Soviet communism and in the development of unity and readiness to build indigenous military strength in the area. On the other hand there are disturbing reports of the growth of neutralism and anti-Americanism in France and Britain, if not in Western Europe as a whole.

In the Middle East, irresponsible nationalism is the current major threat to free world interests. United States capabilities for effective psychological action have declined though some slow progress is reported in certain sections of the Moslem world.

In Africa, intensive communist efforts to gain control over the colored races are having some success. A modest start has been made at laying the groundwork for future activities aimed at checking them.

In Latin America, there has been a recent increase in our capabilities for effective psychological action, and some indication of substantial progress in combatting anti-American feeling in certain countries.

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In South and Southeast Asia, anti-colonialism and associated racial resentments have been far more important elements in the psychological developments in the military struggle against rebel forces in the area. On the other hand, communist electoral gains in India have forced the Nehru Government to modify perceptibly its former position of neutrality in the East-West conflict.

In Formosa and Japan, some gains are reported as a result of United States psychological activities.

In addition to the above comments on specific areas, the following general observations on the non-Soviet world, drawn from the departmental reports, may be warranted.

A steady operational trend toward the use of indigenous groups for propaganda purposes reflects a recognition that in many areas overt propaganda bearing the United States label is meeting with increasing indifference or resistance. Further development of non-attributed psychological methods, together with a de-emphasis of overt channels, appears to be logical in this situation.
In underdeveloped countries some progress has been made in developing psychological approaches which appeal to local aspirations and emphasize local participation and initiative. Such approaches are particularly relevant in these areas, where the memory or actuality of domination by the white man is a far greater psychological reality than the Soviet menace.
The overriding abhorrence of another possible war in some areas, particularly Western Europe, constitutes an important psychological liability for the United States. This attitude tends to inhibit actions which may seem to involve any increased risk of war, and manifests itself in neutralism, anti-Americanism, and extreme sensitivity to occasional warlike statements by leading Americans. The spread of this attitude makes possible the continued effective use of “peace” as a leading theme in Soviet psychological aggression.
Certain national policies of the United States are psychologically damaging in various areas of the non-Soviet world. In the Moslem world this is true of United States policy toward Israel; in areas under European domination it is true of United States identification with its NATO allies which makes it difficult for the United States to avoid the psychological effects of the colonial policies of those allies; in Britain and elsewhere it is true of United States policy toward China.

The same may be said of certain primarily domestic matters. For instance, efforts to counteract communist exploitation of the race relations problem in the United States have not been fully successful. Likewise, the restrictive immigration policy of the United States, most recently embodied in the McCarran Act, has damaging psychological repercussions abroad. Finally, United States tariff laws severely hurt the [Page 308]ability of foreign countries to export to this country and thus are seen abroad as running directly counter to United States policy of building up economic stability in the free world by expanding international trade.

B. Behind the Iron Curtain

The Soviet grip in the Communist-dominated areas of Europe and of the Far East appeared to be even firmer at the end of the fiscal year 1952 than at the beginning. There was no evidence of progress toward achievement of the basic objectives set forth in NSC 20/4, namely, the reduction and retraction of Soviet communist power. Moreover, short-term possibilities of any improvement in this respect appeared so slight as to be negligible. In this area of the world our national psychological effort, both overt and covert, must continue for some time to emphasize long-term objectives and the discovery of means to build up resources and capabilities.

Among the many problems incident to this buildup, one in particular may be mentioned. Our capabilities for effective action against the communist regime in China are limited in part by the absence of a stable and more universal rallying point outside China to which overseas Chinese could look for political and psychological leadership, and by the related need for a thorough-going reform of Nationalist Chinese military and political institutions.

In the overt information field behind the Iron Curtain, the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe clearly emerge from the reports as the only significant remaining programs which effectively reach the people of either or both the USSR and the Satellites. The reports are equally clear, however, as to the need for making the Voice still more powerful. Meanwhile there are ominous indications that we may be falling behind in the electromagnetic war.

Some good use has been made of defectors and escapees from behind the Iron Curtain during the year, both on the programs of the Voice and America and in non-attributable activities of other agencies. Results point to the desirability of a still more highly organized effort in this direction.

C. Related Activities

Certain related activities of a highly restricted nature are not covered in the body of this report. For an evaluative summary of these activities, reference is made to the specially classified Annex D.

D. Organizational Progress

An improvement is noted in the effectiveness of policy guidance during the period covered by this report. In part, the improvement has resulted from closer cooperation of the departments and agencies involved. Quicker and more effective action both in Washington and in [Page 309]the field, and a consequent improvement in the coordination of our psychological effort, has resulted from a number of forward steps in organization. The reports make it clear, however, that much still remains to be done.

II. Progress in Formulating and Promulgating Over-All National Psychological Objectives, Policies and Programs

During its first year of operation the Psychological Strategy Board has taken a number of steps to carry out its responsibility “for the formulation and promulgation, as guidance to the departments and agencies responsible for psychological operations, of over-all national psychological objectives, policies and programs, and for the coordination and evaluation of the national psychological effort.” The major effort has been in the planning field. The chief steps taken are as follows:4

A. Plans completed and in effect:

Psychological Operations Plan for the Reduction of Communist Power in France—designed to encourage and support French Government efforts to reduce communist power in their country to a point where it will no longer threaten United States national objectives in the area. Under this Plan and the parallel Plan for Italy (see below), the initiative for the most important actions lies with the indigenous governments. Supporting actions by the United States are under the control of the Ambassador. Progress in France has been considerable during the past two months and prospects for the future appear good.
Psychological Operations Plan for the Reduction of Communist Power in Italy—parallel to the above plan for France. Although progress in Italy is less substantial than in France, the Italian Government is actively considering further effective action in this field.
Psychological Operations Plan for Soviet Orbit Escapees (Phase “A”)—designed to provide care and resettlement for current escapees and facilitate their use by CIA and the Armed Forces. Reception, supplemental care, and resettlement operations have already begun on a small scale and will be considerably expanded within the limits of the 4.3 million dollars made available to the Department of State for this activity by the Director for Mutual Security.
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B. Plans and guidances completed but not yet being executed:

Plans for immediate execution: None
Stand-by plans:
General war:
A plan for the conduct of psychological operations in the event of general war has been submitted by the Board to the National Security Council and was under study by them as of 30 June 1952.5
A national overt propaganda policy guidance for general war has been approved by the Board and serves as guidance for current operational planning on this subject in the Government.
Korean Armistice Negotiations: Two psychological operations plans have been promulgated. One is partly operational at present and provides for further actions in the event that an armistice is achieved. The other plan provides for the contingency that armistice negotiations are conclusively broken off and full hostilities are resumed.
Plans and projects authorized and in process of development involve most of the critical areas in the world struggle.

A plan for national psychological strategy with respect to Germany, nearly completed, is to deal with the integration of the Federal Republic into Western Europe, the reduction of Soviet capabilities in Western Germany, the problem of German unification, and the role of a unified Germany in the unification of Europe.

Psychological strategy plans to advance national objectives in the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and Japan are in earlier stages of preparation. With respect to the Soviet Union a psychological operations plan for exploiting Stalin’s passing from power has been drafted and is receiving further staff study.

Other plans and papers in preparation, not confined to any geographic area, include:

an over-all strategic concept for the national psychological effort;
a plan for stimulating and utilizing defection from the Soviet Orbit beyond the existing flow of escapees (this plan will supplement the “Phase A” plan mentioned in A. (3) above);
an inventory of “cold war” instrumentalities, some of them novel, with a view to harassment and retaliation against the USSR and the Soviet Orbit;
an analysis of communist “germ warfare” and other “hate America” propaganda and the psychological problems arising therefrom; and
a plan designed both to gain greater acceptance in the free world for United States economic security objectives vis-à-vis the Soviet Orbit, and to capitalize on and obstruct Soviet economic exploitation of captive Europe and Communist China.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, S/S–NSC Files: Lot 62 D 333, PSB Files, PSB D–30. Top Secret; Security Information. The report contains Annexes A–E. None is printed except for Annexes D and E, which are enclosures 1 and 2 to Document 127.
  2. See Foreign Relations, 1948, vol. I, Part 2, pp. 662 669.
  3. For the text of the report of the Department of State to the NSC, and summaries of the other three reports mentioned, see Annexes A, B, and C, and specially classified Annex D. [Footnote in the original. Regarding these annexes, see footnote 1 above.]
  4. For a more detailed report on planning activities, see specially classified Annex E. [Footnote in the original.]
  5. This plan was approved by the President on 25 July 1952. [Footnote in the original. See Document 123.]