155. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski) to President Carter 1


  • Report on ICA’s First Six Months

John Reinhardt has prepared a brief report (TAB A) for you on the first six months of the International Communication Agency, which came into being on April 1, 1978. He cites several examples of the effectiveness of this agency’s work, much of which results cumulatively from the efforts of the past, e.g. large VOA listenership in the Soviet Union, participation in past exchange programs by 38 current heads of government and emulation of our cultural exchange programs by many other countries. His agency, as he points out in respect to Camp David, has a capacity to communicate important information rapidly to all parts of the world.

What is disturbing in this report, however, is the information that our exchange programs have declined by 57% in constant dollars over [Page 452] the past twelve years. This illustrates dramatically a point made in PRM–10:2 our expenditures on the competition for ideas have not kept pace with military outlays and we have a serious lag to make good. Unless we put more money and assign more talent to this area, our successors ten years hence will not have as much evidence of effectiveness to cite as John Reinhardt does in this report.

There are many more countries in the world now educating more people for accelerated political, economic and social development than there were even ten years ago. We should expose more of them to the United States so that they will understand us better when they take leadership positions. I would like to have your approval to take up with John Reinhardt the need for planning systematic expansion of ICA’s exchange programs.3

Tab A

Memorandum From the Director of the International Communication Agency (Reinhardt) to President Carter 4

Since October 1 marked the end of the first six months of the International Communication Agency’s existence, this seems an appropriate time to give you the first of the periodic accountings called for in your March 13 memorandum5 to me.

Briefly, most of our reorganization work is now complete. Good working relationships have been established with the National Security Council and the Department of State (closer, more productive relationships than have existed in many years). We have been working intimately with the Department and the NSC on such issues as the Bonn Summit,6 follow-up on the Camp David agreements,7 arms control and disarmament, the “successor generation” in Europe,8 international communications policy, human rights and others.

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We have focused heavily on refinements in our work, in an effort to achieve significant gains in operational efficiency and effect. A few indicators of where we stand:

—According to Soviet research statistics (which accord closely with our own estimates), 60%–75% of the urban intelligentsia in the Soviet Union listens regularly to the Voice of America.

—38 current heads of government participated during their formative years in our exchange programs (including, for example, Anwar Sadat, Mario Soares, Valery Giscard d’Estaing, Helmut Schmidt and Julius Nyerere).

—Our worldwide press service made it possible to put the complete texts of the Camp David Accords (which the commercial services were transmitting in abbreviated form) in the hands of influential Middle Easterners—in and out of government—overnight.

—Our Fulbright exchange program has been emulated repeatedly by other countries over the past thirty years—an irony, since, as a result of recurring budgetary restrictions, our exchange programs have declined by 57% in constant dollars in the past twelve years. We also have 29% fewer people on our rolls than in 1964 (and may be the only agency in your government which can make such a statement).

—France, West Germany, Japan and the United Kingdom each devoted a larger percentage of its 1977 national budget than did the United States to external cultural and information activities. According to CIA, the Soviet Union spends “at least $2 billion a year” on pro-Communist and anti-U.S. propaganda; this compares with our $361 million budget in fiscal 1978.

But perhaps the most important indicator of all is the frequency and intensity with which the creation of ICA has been attacked by the Soviets over the past year. These attacks, I believe, reflect both the Soviets’ underlying insecurity (recognition of their disadvantages vis-a-vis the United States in the long-term competition of ideas and value systems) and their appreciation of the power of communication and ideas. As Lenin put it in 1924, “ideas are more fatal than guns.”

Unlike the Soviets, we as a country and as a government tend to understate the centrality of our ideas and values to our position in the world and how attractive they remain to foreign peoples. It is, therefore, important to focus on the positive impact of your human rights policy at the popular level abroad. As a result of that impact, we appear to be reclaiming something the United States was in danger of forfeiting to Marxism-Leninism—an identification with the future.

I am convinced that our continued competition with the Soviets and their followers, as well as our relations with the developing nations, will be determined essentially by the force of our ideas and the effective[Page 454]ness with which we communicate them to the rest of the world. If I interpret your statements and actions correctly, this accords well with your own sense of priorities. It is ICA’s essential work. At the end of our first six months, I believe we can carry this work forward from a position of strength and confidence.

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Agency File, Box 9, International Communication Agency: 9–12/78. No classification marking. Sent for action. Carter initialed the top right-hand corner of the memorandum, indicating that he saw it. Dodson sent a copy of the memorandum to Reinhardt under a November 2 memorandum, indicating that Carter had reviewed Reinhardt’s October 5 memorandum (attached and printed as Tab A) and “pronounced it ‛Good.’” She also noted that the President had approved Brzezinski’s recommendation in his October 24 memorandum that “steps be taken to reverse” the decline in funding for exchange programs. Dodson concluded, “The NSC Staff is ready to assist you in developing plans for expansion of exchange programs and in securing Congressional approval for them.” (Ibid.) An earlier draft of Brzezinski’s memorandum to the President, with Brzezinski’s handwritten notations, is ibid. An NSC Correspondence Profile, attached to the October 24 memorandum, indicates that the original copy of Reinhardt’s memorandum was sent directly to Henze, that Brzezinski transmitted a copy of Reinhardt’s memorandum and his memorandum to the President on October 24, and that Carter approved the recommendation on October 31. (Ibid.)
  2. See footnote 2, Document 42.
  3. The President approved this recommendation and initialed “J” below it.
  4. No classification marking. A copy was sent to Vance. The President wrote “good J” in the top right-hand corner of the memorandum.
  5. See Document 121.
  6. See footnote 4, Document 130.
  7. See footnote 2, Document 151.
  8. See Document 130.