Barrett Files, Lot 52 D 432

Memorandum by the Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs ( Barrett ) to the Director of the Policy Planning Staff ( Nitze )

top secret

Subject: JCS Memoranda of 15 January 1951 and 13 April 19511

1. The degree of emphasis given to propaganda and related activities in the recommendations of the reference papers—six out of seven recommendations in the memorandum of 15 January, three out of [Page 920] three in the memorandum of 13 April—suggests a misconception as to the capabilities of propaganda. Annex 5 of NSC 68/32 accurately sets forth the relationship of propaganda to other activities of the Government in the present situation and properly defines the tasks laid upon it:

“The frustration of the design of the Kremlin will result primarily from concrete decisions taken and vigorous measures executed in the political, military and economic fields by the people and the governments of the free world under the leadership of the United States. The task of the United States foreign information and educational exchange programs is to assure that the psychological implications of these actions are, first, fully developed and, second, effectively conveyed to the minds and the emotions of groups and individuals who may importantly influence governmental action and popular attitudes in other nations and among other peoples.”

The implication of the reference documents would seem to be that virtually all measures necessary to meet existing problems except propaganda are being fully carried out. This will not bear objective examination. Permitted to stand uncorrected, it might lead to the assumption that if enough ringing phrases can only be uttered, the need for concrete actions and hard decisions in other fields will somehow be diminished. The dangers of such an assumption are manifest.

2. The description, explicit and implicit, of the state of public opinion in the United States and abroad with regard to the threat of Soviet Communism is so excessively simplified in the reference documents as to constitute an unreliable guide to effective plans and programs. The factors of indifference, fear and despair are heavily emphasized. Positive factors demonstrably existing are only passingly referred to. The result is a distortion leading to dubious conclusions on the basis of which no successful course of action could be plotted.

3. Although the bulk of the recommendations, iterated at several points in the reference documents and their enclosures, involve activity in the fields of propaganda and psychological warfare, the reference documents and their enclosures reflect small knowledge of plans and programs now in effect. These plans and programs deal with virtually every point made in the reference documents, particularly the recommendations listed in sub-paragraphs b, c, d, e, f and g of paragraph 2 of the memorandum of 15 January 1951. They include, among others:

The instruction of 13 September 19503 circulated by the Department of State to United States missions calling upon them to initiate carefully defined and sharply targeted information and educational [Page 921] exchange programs to promote the achievement of United States foreign policy objectives.
Annex 5 of NSC 68/3
NIG D-5b,4 setting forth US policy regarding information activities carried on by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the principles of which have been accepted by the national information agencies of the member countries.
The extensive coordinated program already underway of keeping the people of the United States informed as to the nature of the peril in which they stand and the measures required to avert it.
Comprehensive plans for psychological activities with regard to (a) the USSR,5 (b) the satellites of Eastern Europe,6 (c) China,7 and (d) Germany,8 which, developed by the Department of State and discussed with the NPSB,9 are being put into operation as objective circumstances make feasible.
The plans and programs developed as the result of Project Troy.10
The continuing activities of the interdepartmental psychological strategy board (under NSC 59/1)11

These activities in sum constitute a propaganda “crusade” of no small dimensions. It is a program, moreover, that does not involve the creation of an agency challenging or duplicating the coordinating functions properly belonging to the NSC and the presidential office itself.

  1. These memoranda, by the Joint Chiefs of Staff to Secretary of Defense George C. Marshall, were circulated among the members of the National Security Council with a covering memorandum of April 26 by James S. Lay, Jr., Executive Secretary of the NSC. See p. 60.
  2. NSC 68/3, Annex 5, “The Foreign Information Programs,” is printed in Foreign Relations, 1950, vol. i, p. 452.
  3. Circular instruction titled “Psychological Offensive,” September 13, 1950, not printed.
  4. This document, not found in the Department of State files, was prepared by the NATO Information Group, a task force formed by Barrett on January 31, 1951, to study the information program in relation to NATO.
  5. “Emergency Plan for Psychological Offensive (USSR),” March 23, 1951, is not printed.
  6. Not found in the Department of State files.
  7. “Interim Propaganda Plan for Communist China,” dated February 1951, not printed.
  8. “Psychological Warfare in Germany,” December 1, 1950, prepared by Wallace Carroll, executive news editor of the Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Journal and Sentinel, and Hans Speier, chief of the Social Science Division, Rand Corporation, consultants to the Department of State, is not printed.
  9. The National Psychological Strategy Board, or Interdepartmental Foreign Information Organization, was established under NSC 59/1, a report by the National Security Council of March 9, 1950, concerning “The Foreign Information Program and Psychological Warfare Planning,” not printed. Its establishment was announced publicly by the Department of State on August 17, 1950; for the text of the announcement, see the Department of State Bulletin, August 28, 1950, p. 335. After the creation of the Psychological Strategy Board by President Truman’s directive of April 4, 1951 (p. 58), the NPSB was redesignated the Psychological Operations Coordinating Committee.
  10. “Project Troy” was a research study undertaken for the Department of State by a group of scientists and social scientists assembled by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The “Project Troy Report to the Secretary of State,” February 1, 1951, not printed, made various proposals for political warfare, including possible methods of minimizing the effects of Soviet jamming on the Voice of America broadcasts (511.00/2–151).
  11. See footnote 9, above.