Under Secretary’s Meetings: Lot 53 D 250: Minutes

Record of the Under Secretary’s Meeting, April 17, 19501


Retaliatory Action Against U.S.S.R. and Satellite Restrictions on U.S. Information Materials (UM D–95)2

This paper is an effort to conserve a good propaganda asset.

Attention was called to the need for explaining our thinking to members of Congress to prepare the way for handling problems which [Page 303] might be raised by additional restrictive measures taken abroad by Russian or satellite nations.

It was pointed out that it would be dangerous for the Russians to find out that we did not intend to retaliate.

It was noted that if problems of restriction and retaliation were to be discussed on the floors of the Congress at this time the negative voices (in terms of the proposals of this paper) might be the more audible. There was some feeling that it will be difficult to convince the Congress and the general public of the wisdom of nonretaliation. Mr. Barrett pointed out that we would not assume a position of complete nonretaliation, but that we do not want to retaliate by cutting into freedom of information.

It was suggested that if our own information programs should be stepped up we might expect increased opposition from the other side of the curtain.

The satellite information programs in this country are not very effective; therefore, any steps which we might take to hamper them probably would not inflict much more damage. This is not true, however, of Russian programs.

It was suggested that we take full propaganda advantage of the increased suppression of economic information in the curtain areas. It was noted that various public advisory groups, such as the UNESCO National Commission and the advisory commission for public affairs areas, have supported the general line contained in the paper. It was suggested that it might be useful to obtain the support of such groups.

There is also the possibility of raising in the UN the whole question of diplomatic relations in the light of present conditions.

It was agreed that whenever we are given additional setbacks in our overseas information outlets we should exploit them as further evidences of Soviet terrorism which lead the captive peoples of Europe farther into darkness. This could be handled as a positive action by us rather than merely a reaction against Soviet initiative.

In a discussion of the techniques of our overseas information programs, it was emphasized that our releases and objectives must be suitable for the recipient populations, which vary considerably from area to area.

[Page 304]

The point was made that in contemporary international relations it is not possible to isolate propaganda from fundamental diplomatic relationships; in other words, the primary effect of a diplomatic note might well be upon domestic or foreign public opinion rather than upon formal relations between governments.

[Here follows the remainder of this record covering the consideration by the Under Secretary’s Meeting of another subject.]

  1. This record was presumably prepared by the Executive Secretariat. Regarding the composition and functions of the Under Secretary’s Meeting, see footnote 1, p. 266.

    According to the “Action Summary” of this meeting, it was decided that Assistant Secretary Barrett and Assistant Secretary of State for Congressional Relations Jack McFall would work together on a presentation of the problem, along the lines of document UM D–95, to the appropriate consultative group of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Paul H. Nitze, Director of the Policy Planning Staff, was given the primary responsibility for reexamining and restating the objectives of American informational, propaganda, and educational exchange programs (Under Secretary’s Meetings, Lot 53 D 250, Summaries).

  2. The same as the Paper Prepared in the Bureau of Public Affairs, April 6, p. 290.