65. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski) to President Carter1


  • Soviet Propaganda Broadcasting (U)

CIA has recently put more effort into studying Soviet propaganda radio. Here are some of the results. There has been an enormous increase in recent years in both quantity and quality of broadcasts and transmitter power. Soviet stations, e.g., broadcast 62 hours per week to the Arab world. An improved English-language service, which deliberately imitates the BBC, blankets the whole eastern hemisphere with transmitter strength much greater than VOA or BBC. By relaying broadcasts through Cuba, the Soviets have added 55 hours a week to their previous schedules in Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic and English. Most interesting, perhaps, are the changes they have made in clandestine broadcasts. They have dropped broadcasts in Spanish, Italian and German to concentrate on Turkey and Iran. Two stations broadcasting to Turkey have increased [Page 204] their transmission time twice during the past year and a half: in February 1978 and again in June 1979. Both put out a highly agitational, anti-American line. The main Soviet clandestine station directed at Iran continues the same mendacious, inflammatory commentary that exacerbated the situation there last winter, broadcasting in both Persian and Azerbaijani. It probably uses the same transmitters as Radio Baku, which also broadcasts in Kurdish. Another Soviet-backed station transmitting from Libya to Iran echoes similar agitational themes. The Soviets also seem to have a hand in several clandestine stations in Arabic that broadcast from places such as Aden. (C)

In view of the continuing expansion and intensification of Soviet broadcasting efforts, we need to consider further expansion of our own. Given the modest costs, it is money well spent. Both VOA and RFE/RL are preparing proposals for more broadcasts directed at the Middle East and the Muslim areas of the Soviet Union. (C)

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Brzezinski Office File, Subject Chron File, Box 112, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty/Voice of America: 1–9/79. Confidential. Sent for information. Carter initialed the memorandum, indicating he saw it. In an August 15 memorandum to Brzezinski, Henze reported that, at his request, the CIA had undertaken a study of Soviet clandestine broadcasting. Henze recommended that Brzezinski inform the President of the conclusions of the memorandum to underscore the importance of strengthening RFE/RL and VOA broadcasting. Brzezinski asked Henze to draft a memorandum for the President. Henze forwarded the draft to Brzezinski for signature on September 5. (Ibid.)