159. Memorandum From the Director of the International Communication Agency (Reinhardt) to President Carter1

The issue is whether, how, and in what time frame to expand our academic and other exchanges programs.

In his memorandum to you of October 24,2 Dr. Brzezinski noted: “our expenditures on the competition for ideas have not kept pace with military outlays and we have a serious lag to make good.” Some indicators of the decline are at Tab B.3

The problem is easily identified: funds appropriated to these exchanges have not kept pace with inflation and the decline of the dollar (academic exchange funds have declined by 57% in constant dollars over the past decade). With the shift in emphasis in our foreign assistance programs, the focus has been on “basic human needs” at the expense of higher education or international exposure. Private foundations and academic institutions have curtailed their own efforts in recent years.

As a result:

—All of our Western European exchange programs are inadequately funded; 5–6 academic programs face the possibility of extinction in the next several years. Several European governments have indicated that, in the absence of significantly increased U.S. funding, they may begin to use their own contributions to these programs for exchange with other countries. (We currently fund only one full-year research grant for an American to all of Scandinavia; the number of French grantees has fallen in 10 years from 309 to 67. The FRG attaches such high political importance to these programs that it is now funding 80% of exchanges with the United States; the Bundestag appropriations committee, however, has sought out our Ambassador to express its growing unhappiness at the funding imbalance and to remind us that the USG in 1974 committed itself to parity funding.)

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—We are forfeiting opportunities with emerging leadership groups and institutions in the “upper tier” LDC’s. Our programs funded only 16 American scholars to Brazil in 1977, only 7 American doctoral students in all of Africa, only 3 in Korea, none in Iran, none in Nigeria. Ten years ago we officially hosted 1,000 influential younger Latin Americans; last year the figure had dropped to 340.

—The U.S. has been criticized by the USSR and Eastern European countries for not enlarging our exchanges in fulfillment of the Helsinki Accords.4 Both Dante Fascell of the CSCE Commission in Congress and Warren Christopher have asked ICA to enhance these programs. As a general proposition, the Department of State has authorized us to express its strong support for enhanced exchanges programs.5

The foregoing quantitative measures do not reflect the qualitative decline. Influential foreigners, brought here to be impressed by the U.S., literally stay in third-rate hotels, travel in the company of inadequately trained escorts and interpreters, or with inadequate attention to their programs from overworked contract agencies. The average duration of academic sojourns has been reduced, typically, from an academic year to a semester or less; the value of stipends has eroded so dramatically as to make it difficult to attract truly authoritative scholars; the value of a grant for a doctoral scholar is now, typically, the cost of an airplane ticket.

For 1979–80 we have reprogrammed $2.3 million from other ICA activities into general exchanges; given that all of ICA’s activities are engaged in what Dr. Brzezinski calls “the competition for ideas” we are now robbing Peter to pay Paul. Reprogramming on a scale commensurate with the needs outlined in this memorandum would represent radical—and not necessarily corrective—surgery.

In our view, these exchanges programs should have three goals:

(a) To assure, now that it is clear the United States cannot overwhelm its foreign problems by throwing resources at them, that there is an adequate cadre of trained and sensitive Americans to assist this country to live by its international wits;

(b) To assure that over the next generation there are successors to the 38 heads of state or government who are currently alumni of these programs (or the 11 members of the current Indonesian cabinet, or the 10 of the current French cabinet);

(c) To assure that there are enduring personal or institutional links between influential Americans and foreigners of the kind and quality [Page 471] which can facilitate cooperative address to major international problems and a reciprocal appreciation of values and ideas.

As a result of your reaction to Dr. Brzezinski’s memo, we have developed a possible “Program for the ‛80’s”. From the 1979 level, and at eventual full funding, the program would represent approximately a $44 million increase in our current exchanges budget of $32 million. The increase would be composed entirely of program funds; there would be no net addition to ICA staff. We would propose that the increase be phased in over a four-year period (doing so would respond to the congressional request in our 1979 Authorization Act that you submit a multi-year program to enhance exchanges).

We believe that any new funds should be apportioned according to the following priorities (the rationale for which is at Tab A).6

(a) The technologically advanced and/or democratic societies, in order to contribute to a solid “rear area” in the years ahead;

(b) Eastern Europe, the USSR and the PRC;7

(c) the “upper tier” LDC’s;

(d) Southern Africa and the Middle East;

(e) Special attention to Mexico (and, to a lesser degree, Canada).

We will continue to operate exchanges programs in the poorer LDC’s, which will also benefit by your recently proposed program of Humphrey Scholarships for younger public servants nominated for one-year “topping off” educational experiences in the United States. But the preponderance of incremental funds would be applied as outlined above, particularly in the field of academic exchanges.

In addition, we would propose a substantial expansion of an existing small program under which young American public officials (elected and appointed from local, state and federal levels) are exposed to selected foreign societies. The current program, administered by the bi-partisan American Council of Young Political Leaders, for example, has focused on the USSR and has created an impressive network of personal relationships among emerging figures in both countries. We would propose not only to increase the numbers of American and foreign public officials participating in this kind of program, but to enhance the learning experience by building short “bursts” of academic study into it.

The proposed “Program for the ‛80’s” is explained in greater detail at Tab A.

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Since ICA could not prudently administer the total sums required for these programs were the funds to become available in any given fiscal year, we recommend phasing them in over four years.

We recommend approval of the program at Tab A and that it form the basis for the required report to the Congress early next year. If you approve, we will draft the report for White House consideration.8

We would recommend first-year attention to: (1) a partial restoration of the exchanges programs with the technologically advanced/democratic societies; (2) Eastern Europe and the USSR (so as to position ourselves for Madrid 1980);9 (3) a radically expanded program involving young American and foreign public leaders. We would also hold a small reserve fund so that we can take advantage of opportunities in the PRC.

First-year costs for these purposes would require $6.25 million.10

The question then arises as to whether you wish to enhance these programs beginning in FY 1980 or defer until FY 1981.

Begin in FY 1980 Begin in FY 198111

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Office of the Deputy Secretary: Records of Warren Christopher, 1977–1980: Lot 81D113, Box 18, Memoranda to the Secretary–1978. No classification marking. The date on the memorandum is stamped. Christopher sent a copy of the memorandum to Vance under a December 13 memorandum, noting: “John Reinhardt wants you to be generally aware of his proposal to the President for an expanded ICA exchanges program, in case the President refers to it in conversation with you. You will recall that the President, at Zbig’s suggestion, endorsed the idea of such an expansion to recoup the decline in constant-dollar funding of these programs over the past decade. I attach John’s memo to the President on the subject.” (Ibid.)
  2. See Document 155.
  3. Not attached and not further identified.
  4. See footnote 6, Document 8.
  5. An unknown hand underlined “As a general proposition,” and placed a vertical line in both the left-hand and right-hand margins next to this sentence.
  6. Attached at Tab A but not printed is an undated proposal entitled “International Exchange of Persons: A Program for the 1980s.”
  7. An unknown hand underlined “and the PRC;”
  8. The President did not approve or disapprove the recommendation.
  9. Reference is to the CSCE Review Conference, scheduled to take place in Madrid in November 1980.
  10. The President did not approve or disapprove the recommendation.
  11. The President did not approve or disapprove the recommendation.