17. Memorandum From the Deputy Assistant Director, Broadcasting Service, United States Information Agency (Tuch) to the Acting Director (Kopp)1


  • Treatment of Human Rights Issue in Output to the USSR and E.E.

The Soviet Government when propagating their version of “peaceful coexistence” has always insisted that this concept did not include “ideological warfare” which the Soviets felt free to pursue militantly: as long as it does not include armed conflict it is perfectly all right to use any other method to promote the ideology of Marxism-Leninism, including subversion and black propaganda. Thus, press, radio and TV attacks on individuals and groups in the West and propaganda blasts against democratic institutions in the Free World are, by Soviet standards, within the ground rules of “peaceful coexistence” or “detente” since their supposed intent is merely to advocate the blessings of communist ideology.

I submit that the advocacy of human rights is part of our ideology. When President Carter or VOA support the activities of Mr. Sakharov2 and other human rights advocates abroad, these activities should be explained and defended in terms of our ideology. Thus, we do not interfere in the “internal affairs” or disturb the sovereignty of the communist nations when we advocate the protection of human rights in their countries anymore than they consider it interference in our internal affairs when they propagandize for justice for Angela Davis, give an award to Gus Hall, or make appeals on behalf of the “Wilmington 10.”3

[Page 47]

I suggest that we consider—in our private and public diplomacy vis-a-vis the Soviet Union—telling the Soviets forcefully that ideological conflict cuts both ways: our human rights advocacy is as vital to our ideology as Soviet advocacy of communist ideas is to their ideology. We should remind them that we make no linkage between our ideology and practical steps toward improving our bi-lateral relationship just as they do not link “peaceful co-existence” and ideological conflict.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 306, Office of the Director, Executive Secretariat, Secretariat Staff, Correspondence Files, 1973–1980, Entry P–104, Box 113, 7700580–7700589. No classification marking. Copies were sent to Bastian, Shirley, and Reinhardt. Reinhardt and Fraser both initialed the memorandum, indicating that they saw it.
  2. Reference is to Soviet physicist and dissident Andrei Sakharov, who, in early 1977, engaged in an exchange of letters with Carter. For additional information, see Foreign Relations, 1977–1980, vol. VI, Soviet Union, Documents 2, 5, 8, 9, and 11.
  3. Reference is to 10 individuals arrested, tried, and convicted on arson and conspiracy charges in Wilmington, North Carolina, in February 1971. At the time, African-American students in Wilmington had instituted a boycott against the city’s schools in response to attacks on African-American students prompted by desegregation of the school system. The boycott precipitated various acts of violence, culminating in the firing of shots at firefighters attempting to extinguish an arson fire. The “Wilmington 10” were implicated in this action, despite lack of evidence regarding involvement, and, as a result, were perceived as political prisoners and thus deprived of their human rights. The federal appeals court, in 1980, overturned the convictions on grounds that the defendants’ constitutional rights had been violated by both the prosecutor and the trial judge.