104. Briefing Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs (Richardson) to the Deputy Secretary of State (Ingersoll)1

Stanton Panel Recommendations—My Personal Views

The Task Force on the Stanton Panel Report, in preparing the memorandum sent you on April 26, adhered as closely as possible to your instruction that it not develop recommended courses of action.2 In this memorandum I want to try to identify what I think are the salient substantive factors that should influence the course of action of the Department.

From the outset of the Stanton review, and before, I have been convinced that it concerned a substantive problem of importance to our foreign relations and not just a bureaucratic issue related to government organization. The changes over the past twenty-five years in the nature of the relations between our own and other societies have dramatically altered the means and methods we need to employ in communicating with others. For one thing, the agendas and even the positions of governments are increasingly constrained by the perceptions and pressures of unofficial actors; this enhanced involvement of people and institutions is both an important determinant and an asset in foreign policy. For another, dialogue has replaced monologue as the preferred strategy to influence intersocietal relationships.

My view has been and remains that it is essential to our national interest that we develop more coherence in the variety of governmental programs which encourage or otherwise influence the linkages and other processes that relate America to other nations. The continued division between State and USIA in the cultural field is a self-imposed handicap we should no longer tolerate. Whether these now-divided activities are combined in an agency integrated within the State Department structure or allied closely with it in some other manner are bu [Page 373] reaucratic questions, less important, in my judgment, than acceptance of the premise that they have to be brought together. I shall have some further comments on this in the paragraphs below.

I share the view of others that the Stanton recommendation for separating the so-called spokesman from the cultural communications role, both in Washington and overseas, is a sound conceptual breakthrough which we should accept enthusiastically. There is a sharp distinction between programs designed to articulate and advocate current U.S. policies and the kinds of cultural communications programs supporting longer-range policy objectives through enhanced, two-way understanding. The first involves the articulation and elucidation of a political message. The cultural communications activities are quite different, centering not on a sharp policy line but on the development of perspectives and dialogue to enhance foreign understanding of America’s complex pluralistic society as well as American understanding of the intricacies of foreign environments with which we have to relate. We do not and should not attempt to foster cultural relations between us and others in accordance with a particular line dictated by the American position on a transient political issue. Suffice it to say that practically no one in the Department seems to disagree with the Stanton conclusion that the policy articulation and cultural communications functions should be separate and distinct.

To say that the policy articulation function must be completely integrated in the Department is not to suggest that cultural communications activities (in which I include general or long-range information activities) are less relevant to foreign policy objectives. Many believe that over a period of time the development of constructive patterns of communication and understanding between us and other societies will make an even greater contribution to the prospects for world stability, cooperation, and our own national security. Without presenting parochial arguments on this point, I would assert that our capabilities in the field of cultural communications should be seen by responsible officials as significant to the attainment of the objectives we seek. If accepted, this conclusion suggests intimate policy relationships between the cultural programs, the Seventh Floor, and the regional and functional bureaus.

My inclination is to believe that this can best be achieved by integrating them in the Department under an Under Secretary. Experience with the USIA pattern over the past twenty-plus years should convince us that the price of separation is an unacceptable reduction in program relevancy on both the policy articulation and cultural communications fronts. There is, however, some advantage in maintaining a slight distance between these programs and the day-to-day operational pres [Page 374] sures of the Department, provided the guidance mechanisms are adequate. In addition, there is a probable plus in budget separation.

These considerations have led me to believe that, if integration is not appealing or feasible, the head of the semi-independent cultural agency, as recommended by the Stanton Panel, should be double-hatted as an Under Secretary of State. In this latter capacity, he would also be responsible for such related but separate communications functions of the Department as PA and the support of our overseas policy articulation operations. (The spokesman in the Department would of course continue as at present to work with and be immediately responsive to the direction of the Secretary.)

On the VOA issue, I have no strong preference.

A great deal has been said within the Department and by AFSA about the problems surrounding personnel integration. While I have no brief for immediate integration, I am convinced that failure to make a commitment to bring the FSO/FSIO personnel systems together, eventually, would needlessly deprive us of the full potential advantages of whatever organizational realignments occur. The psychological impact of separation runs deep, and I know of no better way to assure a sense of belonging than by making personnel working on cultural communications questions a part of the same personnel system which administers our consular, administrative, political and economic activities.

  1. Source: Washington National Records Center, RG 59, Records of the Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs, Subject Files, 1960–1976: Lot 78 D 184, Stanton Panel, 1975. No classification marking.
  2. The Stanton Panel’s report is Document 103. In a February 7 memorandum to Ingersoll, Richardson recommended that a task force, chaired by the Deputy Secretary, be established to formulate the Department’s position on the Stanton Panel’s report. Ingersoll approved. Richardson forwarded the working group’s first draft position paper to Ingersoll under an April 26 covering memorandum. Richardson’s memoranda and the paper are in the Washington National Records Center, RG 59, Records of the Assistant Secretary of State of Educational and Cultural Affairs, Subject Files, 1960–1976: Lot 78 D 184, Stanton Panel, 1975)