Charles Z. Wick


Wick and Project Democracy

One of the more resonant notes that Robert Parry’s writing sounds, concerns one of the lesser known, played down, aspects of the Iran-Contra episode. This was the ‘selling’ of — the devising of tactics for putting over — the ‘strategic threat’ posed by the Sandinista government in Nicaragua and by Marxist rebels in El Salvador. Parry even goes as far as saying that the term “Public affairs” became the US government’s cover for a range of activities devised to get around a law which specifically ‘enjoins federal government agencies against engaging in public relations activities’. (1) The difficulties of unraveling this are complicated by the process whereby the government’s agencies covert operations, which had always used proxy forces, were increasingly ‘privatised’, put at a remove and at a distance largely as a reaction to the Church Committee’s exposure of the assassinations and deceptions of the CIA. It would be business as usual in America’s ‘backyard’. But is there evidence of Public Affairs, as we might think of it presently, as having its roots here and what of the subject of out profile: Charles Z. Wick, Reagan’s friend and propaganda chief: how does he fit into this — was he just a front? It seems reasonable to assume that anti-communism includes some sort of aspect which aims to control the population and what can and cannot be expressed politically.

Robert Parry and Peter Kornbluh assert that some sort of mutant Frankenstein’s monster was put together:

“America’s first peace time propaganda ministry . . . a set of domestic political operations comparable to what the CIA conducts against hostile forces abroad. Only this time they were turned against the three key institutions of American democracy: Congress, the press, and an informed electorate…. Employing the scientific methods of modern public relations and the war-tested techniques of psychological operations, the administration built an unprecedented bureaucracy in the [National Security Council] and the State Department designed to keep the news media in line and to restrict conflicting information from reaching the American public.”(2)

As head of the “selling” operation, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, William J. Casey (and no stranger to Antony Fisher, Brian Crozier and others profiled in connection with the Institute for European Defence and Strategic Studies) appointed Walter Raymond, Jr. a veteran of the CIA’s clandestine overseas media operations—described by one US government source as the CIA’s leading propaganda expert. According to Parry:

The original name for the Reagan-Bush administration’s plan to mount its own propaganda campaign within the United States was “Project Truth.” It later merged with a broader program that combined domestic and international propaganda under the umbrella of “Project Democracy.” The central figure in the administration’s media operations was Walter Raymond Jr., a 30-year veteran of the CIA’s propaganda office who was assigned to the National Security Council staff in 1982.(3)

He adds that Reagan took the first formal step to create the propaganda bureaucracy on January 14, 1983, by signing National Security Decision Directive 77, entitled “Management of Public Diplomacy Relative to National Security.” The secret directive deemed it “necessary to strengthen the organization, planning and coordination of the various aspects of public diplomacy of the United States Government.” Reagan defined public diplomacy broadly as “those actions of the U.S. Government designed to generate support for our national security objectives.”

These objectives were tantamount to escalating the cold war and spread far beyond the mainland USA to influence ‘the world’, or at least that part of it which might consume or stand in the way of what was being sold by the US in more basic economic terms. But how to reach the world — a world not entirely convinced of Ronald Reagan’s increasingly ‘crackpot realism’ PR in the face of the on-the-ground reality of Central America. This facade had also declared that missiles sufficient to kill every man woman and child would ‘protect us’ against a Soviet menace, which itself had been portrayed (thanks to the Jonathan Institute) as at the centre of all ‘terrorism’. Depending on which team you listened to the intelligence world had also portrayed the Soviets as having simultaneously more and less missiles of both superior and inferior quality, all backed up and supplemented by tentacles in that ubiquitous aspect of Empire: the ‘soft underbelly’ — i.e. other countries. In a world whose sanity was defined thus there was only one man for the job of projecting the US’ image abroad: the producer of ‘Snow White and the Three Stooges’: Charles Z. wick —  surely if you could sell that the non-empire of the US empire would be a relatively straight-forwards proposition: certainly the budget would be bigger.

Wick and Project Truth

One starting point here is seen in William Schaap’s Deceit and Secrecy: Cornerstones of U.S. Policy, in Covert Action, No. 16.  This states that a major concern of Reagan’s supporters was that the Voice of America (VOA) had become such a blatant propaganda machine that efforts were needed to “reform” it, to make the news seem impartial, to the extent of including matters of some embarrassment to the U.S., with a view to establishing credibility. Although these reforms were minimal, they were disapproved of by Reagan who instead appointed Wick as head to the International Communications Agency (ICA), the VOA’s parent organization, largely because he was his close friend who had raised $15m for the Reagan presidential campaign. Wick vowed to make the VOA “a weapon in the campaign to counter Soviet propaganda” and accused the VOA of “erring on the side of imbalance against our Government”.

As plans for the anti-Cuban ‘Radio Martí’ developed, the ICA inaugurated, in 1981, “Project Truth” as a program designed to “provide a fast reply service to posts abroad when rumors or news reports about American activity thought to be untrue begin to circulate” (New York Times, November 4, 1981).  According to Schaap:

Under the project, a monthly bulletin, “Soviet Propaganda Alert,” is sent to all ICA posts overseas. Another feature of Project Truth is a “news feature service” called “Dateline America” which will be disseminated through the ICA to foreign media willing to run it. The National Security Council has directed all government agencies to “cooperate” with Project Truth.

Schaap also notes that Wick created some media incidents of his own (and ironically this battle with negative press coverage became a recurring feature of his tenure, and indeed involved major gaffs) and cites an October 23 meeting of the National Council of Community World Affairs Organizations he announced, “We are at war.”

This startled participants so much that Wick was later forced to explain that he only meant a “war of ideas.” At the same meeting, a participant questioned the accuracy of the White Paper on El Salvador, and Wick exploded, suggesting that the questioner was spreading Soviet disinformation. When someone at the meeting asked Wick about plans to cut drastically the ICA’s budget for scholarships and student exchanges while keeping all the funds for propaganda. Wick called the question a “crypto-communist remark” and refused to answer. According to the Washington Post (November 10, 1981), Wick later apologized for the outburst.

Is this Larry, Curly or Moe — perhaps all three rolled into one?  While Schaap also argues that Academic programs were also liable to become subject to political loyalty tests, ho also observes that the Press treatment of Wick also contained editorials that questioned Wick’s “zeal,” offering the suggestion that he had a “weakness for simplistic approaches to complicated subjects like Soviet ‘disinformation.'” Wick and his subordinates seem to have simply escalated the battle in response:

VOA chief James B. Conkling, announced the appointment of Philip Nicolaides as VOA coordinator for commentary and new analysis. Nicolaides was the author of a September 21 memorandum to Conkling, circulated within the VOA, which described the VOA as “a propaganda agency” which should function like an advertising agency selling soap. It called for the VOA to become more “hard-hitting” and to abandon the contention that VOA is a “journalistic enterprise.”

Wick defended the appointment, insisting that the ‘propaganda’ memorandum had been “stolen” from Nicolaides office.  The memorandum also stated that the goal of the VOA should be “to destabilize” the Soviet Union and its allies, to “portray the Soviet Union as the last great predatory empire on earth”.

Certain indications of the involvement and participation of the IEDSS network in the Wick projects are suggested by Schaap’s observation that on December 9, 1981, Wick announced the “formation of the first of four advisory committees of private citizens to provide advice and expertise to the agency.”

This first group, the “New Directions Committee,” is comprised of individuals who run the gamut of political persuasion from right-wing to extreme right-wing. They include Norman Podhoretz, the neo-conservative editor of Commentary magazine; Michael Novak, the rabidly right-wing columnist who most recently promoted the hoax that Cuban soldiers had blown up a bridge in El Salvador; Evron Kirkpatrick, husband of UN Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick, and long suspected of having been a CIA agent; and Edwin J Fuelner, Jr., the president of the Heritage Foundation.

Subsequent to his appointed as chair of the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy (responsible for evaluating VOA) Fuelner moved on to the Institute for European Defence and Security Studies, which in this context we could note also published and promoted Jeane Kirkpatrick’s writing.  In the IEDSS Feulner would join with Dr. George R. Urban, the director of Radio Free Europe and also positioned as director of the UK’s Centre for Policy Studies — Urban had a range of significant contacts in the UK and had also had been a member of the Congress for Cultural Freedom and, significantly, I feel, worked with Roger Swearingen at the USC’s School of International Relations in in their Research Institute on Communist Strategy and Propaganda.  In respect of UK foreign policy towards the Soviets, Urban also had a strong influence on Thatcher, as did (possibly to a greater extent) the IEDSS’ Robert Conquest.

When these US initiatives were assembled, on June 8, 1982, in an address to the British Parliament, President Reagan announced his new strategy against Communism. Designed to “foster the infrastructure of democracy”, Wick added that there would be “a new assertive propagandistic role” to “win the war of ideas.” For William Preston, Jr. and Ellen Ray in Disinformation and Mass Deception:Democracy as a Cover Story, in Covert Action:

Elsewhere, as the democracy project unfolded, there were references to information as “a vital part of the strategic and tactical arsenal of the United States.” Wick again pictured ideas as the only useful weapons that could be shot at an enemy in the absence of hostilities […] Other government officials elevated public diplomacy to the status of diplomatic and military policy in serving the needs of national security. But all spokesmen insisted that the United States at all times “must speak the truth, clearly, vigorously and persuasively.”

Preston and Ray argued that this represented a new Trojan Horse so that previous covert programs of “deception, fake propaganda, slanted information, and disinformation [could] move forward without being under the suspect auspices of the CIA, DIA, and others of that ilk.” For them, Project Democracy” and Public Diplomacy are a “rehabilitation process for government propaganda”, an attempt to “restore information manipulation under new sponsorship”. We could also add that the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) was also set up at this point.  Its purpose, in the words of Allen Weinstein, who helped draft the legislation establishing NED, was described by looking back in retrospect: ‘A lot of what we [NED] do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA,’ establishing a continuity.

Intercontinental syllogistic missives

Inspired by an unprecedented intercontinental video press conference, simultaneously beamed to five European capitals, and staged to suppress dissent by European governments over the invasion of Grenada,(4) a year later in 1983, Wick was seeking advice from top figures in the field of international telecommunications, including Rupert Murdoch. An American diplomat familiar with the situation stated that Murdoch played a critical role in familiarizing Wick with the possibilities of new satellite technology. It was after meeting Murdoch, says the diplomat, that “Wick saw the potential for thinking big.”

The result was WorldNet, a $15 million-a-year, satellite-aided television network designed to bolster international support for American policy. In launching the project this spring, Wick warned that the Soviet Union was out-spending the United States in international propaganda by a margin of three to one, and was already sending TV broadcasts to Western Europe. WorldNet would help close the Broadcast Gap and counter Soviet disinformation aimed at our allies. “In the confrontation between our free world society and our totalitarian adversaries,’ said Wick, “WorldNet is a highly cost-efficient alternative to military hardware.'(5)

Shapiro states that USIA’s Washington headquarters directed the project with employees in Western Europe’s embassies serving as WorldNet “field agents, convincing Europe’s television networks to begin pulling the programming directly from the satellite.” The project (costing, $15 million in 1986) appeared to have been a flop with no major European network, commercial or state-supported, accepting the USIA’s invitation to run any daily WorldNet programming, although it does seem to have been dutifully watched in Embassies themselves. The report also adds that Reagan consistently supported Wick’s plans for expanding USIA, resulting in a 75% budget increase in 1981. The message and process engendered by the project are described as:

Working through the USIA’s policy guidance office, the State Department informs the producers of “America Today’ of the administration’s “line of the day’ on such issues as import quotas, support for rebel forces in Nicaragua, or Star Wars. The policy guidance staff can veto stories or ask that they be delayed until a particular administration spokesman is interviewed. But beyond these directives, the purpose of WorldNet gets fuzzy. Alvin Snyder, head of the USIA’s television and film service, says that his goal is to illustrate that America “is the best society, people are the happiest, they dress better, they have more fun, their music is good. It’s the Pepsi Generation!’

So who was Wick? In the 1950s he worked as a Hollywood agent at the William Morris Agency, later starting his own agency and going on to manage Sir Winston Churchill, Eleanor Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan, and other ‘celebrities’. In the 1960s the Wicks had lived next door to the Reagans and began to develop fund-raising proposals for Reagan’s presidential campaign in 1979.(6) This ability to raise money for a Presidential campaign has long been practically the only qualification for an appointment to diplomatic office in US politics — perhaps on the reasoning that if you can sell that…

Wick served as a principal fund-raiser in Reagan’s successful run for the presidency. Wick organized a coalition of roughly 500 Reagan supporters into a group named the Coalition for a New Beginning. Thus Reagan nominated Wick to be the Director of the United States International Communications Agency in 1981. Later that year Wick selected Norman Podhoretz to head an ICA advisory committee to “press the American case more effectively and with more relevance abroad.”(7) According to Snyder, Subsequent to this Wick met with White House Communications Director David Gergen and a group of ‘neo-conservative intellectuals’ to discuss Wick’s idea for a United States Information Agency (USIA) television satellite show that would encourage the development of democracy and highlight the failings of communism in Poland. Gergen agrees to write a memo to presidential adviser Edwin Meese, White House Chief of Staff James Baker, and Deputy Chief of Staff Mike Deaver, endorsing the idea.

Wick was also instrumental in encouraging the establishment of the President’ Council for International Youth Exchange, which aimed to bring 15,000 foreign students to the U.S. (8) The exchange programme had been encouraged as ‘Public Diplomacy’ in 1969 —when Walter Annenberg became Ambassador to Great Britain (1969-74):

To help him and his colleagues in those Cold War Years, Ambassador Annenberg had a wide range of public diplomacy tools at hand, including a strong, professionally staffed US Information Agency; a national commitment to extensive cultural exchanges; growing Peace Corps and Fulbright Scholar Programs; and a variety of public and private initiatives that brought thousands of students to the United States to experience America firsthand; and a robust foreign aid program.(9)

Annenberg would go on to set up the Center of Public Diplomacy at USC, which includes Wick and Joseph Nye amongst others. Wick served as a member of a committee created by Reagan to promote U.S. diplomatic, military, and arms control strategies among NATO allies. Other members of the group include Secretary of State George Shultz, Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger, Agency for International Development Administrator Peter McPherson, and national security adviser William P. Clark, the committee’s chair.(10) This preceded the meeting of March of 1983 which included James Goldsmith, but can be seen as part of the same drive towards influencing European political attitudes towards the US.

Wick ran into problems with inquiries into allegations that he taped telephone conversations (including Walter Annenberg)(11) and when Democrats criticised USIA for allegedly compiling a “blacklist” of persons thought to be “too liberal to speak for the agency abroad.”(12)

Wick was also approved an “initial proposal to train Afghan mujahideen to videotape and report on the fighting in Afghanistan,”(13) and was instrumental in Radio Marti which began broadcasts to Cuba in 1985 (all of which were blocked by the Cubans). In 1986 Wick is stated to have led a U.S. delegation to a seven-nation conference sponsored by the President’s Board of Advisors on Private Sector Initiatives.(14) With the election of George H. W. Bush in 1988/89 Wick left the USIA.

In 2005 Wick, along with For nearly 50 years such a program was a priority for presidents from Harry S. Truman to George H.W. Bush — all nine of them. Principally charged with carrying it out was the United States Information Agency, an arm of the White House responsible directly to the president. Throughout those years the USIA assigned a public affairs officer experienced in journalism or public relations to nearly every U.S. embassy. He — occasionally she —was always a full member of the country team yet sufficiently independent to advise the ambassador as an outside counsel might advise, rather than simply report to, a corporate chief executive.

On leaving USIA Wick joined the board of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation and also helped to negotiate speaking deals for Reagan around the world.

Roger Wallis, Stanley J. Baran (1990) The Known World of Broadcast News: International News and the Electronic Media quote Wick’s connivance with the Conservatives over the media reporting of the Lybia bombings, Raymond L. Garthoff (1994) The Great Transition: American-Soviet Relations and the End of the Cold War

The Soft Machine

The USC Center on Public Diplomacy date the first usage of “public diplomacy” to 1965 and the diplomat Edmund Gullion’s, remarks on the foundation of the Edward R. Murrow Center at Tuft’s University Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, which trains the next generation of Foreign Officers. In an interview with The New York Times in 1964, Gullion said that ranking diplomats should be treated like military battle commanders, indeed on the Fletcher campus antiwar activists accused the school, and Gullion, of being in cahoots with the CIA and of American interference around the world through the Agency for International Development.(16) Indeed in 1971 Gullion’s office was bombed to protest University’s military ties to the mass extermination of the Vietnam War, in which Gullion played a large part. According to the Tuft’s biography, from 1961-1964, Gullion served as the Ambassador to the Republic of the Congo, served on a Selection Board of the Foreign Service, was appointed by Nixon to serve on the President’s Commission on International Radio Broadcasting.

USC state that the Murrow Center described the practice of public diplomacy as:

“the influence of public attitudes on the formation and execution of foreign policies. It encompasses dimensions of international relations beyond traditional diplomacy . . . [including] the cultivation by governments of public opinion in other countries; the interaction of private groups and interests in one country with those of another . . . (and) the transnational flow of information and ideas”.

According to USC, American public diplomacy began during World War I, when the U.S. government created the Committee on Public Information (the Creel Committee) which was designed to build public support for America’s entry into the war, arguably this has been its main function. The idea was to influence foreign audiences about US war efforts in support of democratic ends rather than more materialistic concerns. In addition to government-sponsored programs, USC , guided by Joseph Nye’s label “soft power” puts the emphasis on the study the impact of private activities – “from popular culture to fashion to sports to news to the Internet” —that might unintentionally, have an impact on foreign policy and national security as well as on trade, tourism and other national interests. It is not unlike Dahl’s three levels of Power, although definitions are numerous, indeed the USC provide some twelve versions on their Wiki site (although these all have some connection to the US government to a greater or lesser extent). (17)

Public diplomacy has been siezed upon by business as part of its advertising and propaganda. This is reflected in the Corporate Communication Institute (CCI) examination of emerging trends in the role of business in Public Diplomacy.(18) This incorporated a (2004) USC Annenberg Strategic Public Relations Center study (and many others) and given the generally acknowledged free fall of the US’ reputation at home and abroad and its effect on US business and finance (exacerbated further by the economic crisis of 2008).

The CCI study’s findings such as “Anti-Americanism and anti-globalism create a hostile
environment for multinational corporations and building a responsible and accountable global
corporate culture is vital to organizational health” are also compounded by the financial crisis, but as a sector of business the reports findings argue that “transparency is becoming a best practice strategy for reputation management” and at the same time “An emerging trend is the role of business in Public Diplomacy” without really exploring the incommensurate nature of this which so typified the ‘crisis.’ These themes are relegated and lumped together into:

Customers, vendors, and business partners need a firm relationship of trust in the wake of the attack on the World Trade Center, the accounting scandals that followed in the fall of 2001, and the erosion of confidence in the capital markets.

The reports notion that “A new era of Transparency” (p. 5) emerged in 2006 seems to fall prey to public diplomacy itself. The generalisation from respondents that “professionals will continue to be asked to be more to expect corporate communicators to accomplish more with fewer resources” (p. 6) has an undertone of desperation — short of the miracle of the loaves and fishes more cannot be done with less. Bald assertions such as “Corporations that operate globally work hard to harmonize their corporate cultures with the local culture. Look to companies that have operated globally for decades, some for more than 100 years for best practices in creating an effective global corporate culture.” simply do not take into consideration the findings of several investigations deemed negative to this assertion (which seems more an injunction rather than a report drawn from a survey). Indeed the study begins to quote a series of bon mots such as: “All business, as legendary AT&T executive Arthur W. Page observed more than 3⁄4 of a century ago, begins with public permission and exists by public approval.” It is hard to reconcile that with the activities of private security firms in Iraq or Union Carbide in Bhopal or many others including Page’s company’s activities. The President of the Arthur W. Page Society is Thomas R. Martin of ITT Industries, can we say this of ITT and the government of Allende?

As an organisation the The CCI’s sponsors are: Accenture, Honeywell, Johnson & Johnson, Medco Health Solutions, Pfizer Inc, Prudential Financial, Inc., Siemens Corporation and Wyeth. (19) Its Director is Michael B. Goodman of the Arthur W. Page Society (as are several of CCI’s advisory board) his published works include Work with Anyone Anywhere: A Guide to Global Business and Corporate Communication for Executives a title which would suggest that morality and discernment are cast aside in what he advocates for business practice —’anyone’ ‘anywhere’; surely the corollary of that is ‘say anything’?

The CCI’s advisers include Jack Bergen (now with Siemans) formerly president of U.S. operations for the public relations firm Hill & Knowlton, and director of strategic communications at General Electric. Bergen served as a strategic planner in the Pentagon and as chief speechwriter to Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger during the Reagan Administration; Brian Lewis who’s “accomplishments included launching the FOX News Channel (FNC)”, Lewis oversees all corporate communications and public relations functions for the television and online divisions of the FOX Television Stations. (20)

The U.S. Department of State aimed to establish ‘models for action’ at events such as the (2007) Private Sector Summit On Public Diplomacy held on January 9-10 in Washington, DC. as a cooperative initiative of the U.S. Department of State and the PR Coalition. The CCI participate in the PR Coalition along with:

The Advertising Women of New York (AWNY) founded in 1912 as first women’s association in the communications industry; The Asian American Advertising and Public Relations Alliance (AAAPRA); The Arthur W. Page Society; The Conference Board Council on Communications Strategy (a forum for off-the-record discussion); Corporate Communication International (CCI) at Baruch College; The Council of Communications Management; The Council of Public Relations Firms; The Global Public Affairs Institute; The Hispanic Public Relations Association (HPRA); The International Association of Business Communicators (IABC); The IABC Research Foundation; The Institute for Public Relations (IPR); The Institute for Public Relations Measurement Commission; The International Public Relations Association (IPRA); The Lagrant Foundation; The National Black Public Relations Society; The National Investor Relations Institute (NIRI); National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA); The Public Affairs Council; The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA); The PRSA Counselors Academy and The PRSA Foundation.

The Summit (held at the Department of State), brought together public relations professionals and State Department leaders to establish how the private sector could become supportive of US public
diplomacy and was introduced by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Karen P. Hughes, who used a war analogy in that she considered the PR Coalition, “with its considerable skills and expertise in communications, to be the reinforcements needed to help build understanding and cooperation among the nations of the world. “Working together,” she said, “we can develop tangible ideas for reaching out to the world.” (21) All the money, fuss and talk came down to three points:

• Develop business practices that make public diplomacy a core element of international corporate public action.
• Promote understanding of American society, culture and values in other countries.
• Build relationships of trust and respect across cultures.

Public Diplomacy/Private manipulation

Some online dictionaries give definitions and examples of public diplomacy that might surprise readers, such as this from the Fast Archive:

One of the most successful initiatives which embodies the principles of good public diplomacy is the creation by international treaty in the 1950s of the European Coal and Steel Community which later became the European Union. Its original purpose after World War II was to tie the economies of Europe together so much that war would be impossible. The extra public diplomacy benefit this provided was was that the more business the countries did together, the more ties among member states’ citizens increased: this social interaction catalysed greater international understanding.

While acknowledging that Guillion and the Murrow Center were the first to use the term public diplomacy, and that their definition remains contested and controversial, the definition quotes from the Murrow Center brochure:

“the influence of public attitudes on the formation and execution of foreign policies. It encompasses dimensions of international relations beyond traditional diplomacy . . . [including] the cultivation by governments of public opinion in other countries; the interaction of private groups and interests in one country with those of another . . . (and) the transnational flow of information and ideas.”

This offers to opportunity to inquire as to what form the ‘dimensions’, ‘cultivation,’ ‘interaction’ amd ‘flow’ might take. The argument put forward by Murrow was that public diplomacy has traditionally meant truthful propaganda, and that the USIA has always maintained that its agencies, such as the Voice of America, are truthful. is sponsored by Public Diplomacy Alumni Association (formerly USIA Alumni Association) contains many examples of fiction by USIA Authors some of which simply link to adverts — it would not be accurate to describe these as truthful. In the dangerous world of international affairs why would the US go into battle, as it were, with the intention of at all times telling the truth — what would be the point of secrecy, national security? It is not unlike an army General refusing to use camouflage, smoke, code, espionage, or any form of deception to achieve any objective: while the enemy do the opposite. The paucity of this line of thinking is also highlighted by aspects of the world of diplomacy being described as “riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma,” the public are tired of the routine of politicians saying they thought statements were true when they said them and many more techniques of evasion and dissimulation going back to the ‘noble lie’ which excludes them from the decision-making process in the first place.

It is rather difficult to blieve that the Bush administration considered foreign public opinion important to the protection and advancement of U.S. interests, and in an essay based on a survey of the membership of the then USIA Alumni Association about US public diplomacy’s mission, values, and methods: The Collapse of American Public Diplomacy, Kathy R. Fitzpatrick makes this point, this also found that:

When asked whether they believe the United States is diplomatically prepared to address ideological threats to U.S. interests in the 21st century, an overwhelming majority (88 percent) said “No.” […] A majority (66 percent) of the survey participants said the U.S. government is not a credible messenger to people in other countries today. At the same time, only 24 percent said that public diplomacy initiatives sponsored by private American entities have more credibility in the global community than public diplomacy initiatives sponsored by the U.S. government. […] According to a sizable majority (89 percent) of the former American diplomats, ethical issues are important considerations in the practice of U.S. public diplomacy. When provided a list of values and asked to choose the five most important to a public diplomacy professional in working with people abroad, the USIA alumni rated the following values highest: credibility (87 percent), respect (75 percent), truthfulness (65 percent), dialogue (61 percent) and openness (47 percent). There was broad agreement (81 percent) that propaganda is not the same thing as public diplomacy….

We will leave the debate and the prospects for change in the US with the professionals and return to critics of Gullion.

According to a report on a seminar on U.S. Public Diplomacy, Hans Tuch, a former public diplomacy officer, defines public diplomacy as “a government’s process of communicating with foreign publics in an attempt to bring about understanding for its nation’s ideas and ideals, its institutions and culture, as well as its national goals and current policies.” He criticizes Gullion’s definition as being too broad, claiming that public diplomacy is a government affair that does not include “the role of the press and other media in international affairs… [or] the non-governmental interaction of private groups and interests in one country with those of another.”(22)

Quoting Joseph Nye (23), ‘cultural diplomacy’ is given as another distinct component of public diplomacy, the three dimensions of public diplomacy are:

(a) daily communications, explaining American domestic and foreign policies to foreign publics
(b) strategic communications, developing a set of themes for communications such as in a political
(c) developing long-lasting relationships with key individuals, which involves scholarships, exchanges, and conferences.

Cultural diplomacy is said to lie in the third dimension. According to Ambassador William Rugh, public diplomacy has four distinct components:

(a) explaining U.S. foreign policy to foreign publics
(b) presenting them with a fair and balanced picture of American society, culture, and
(c) promoting mutual understanding with those foreign publics
(d) advising U.S. policy makers on foreign attitudes.

The paper offers a brief history of US cultural diplomacy and exchanges, which, it explains, developed after the Second World War, with the most significant bureaucratic shifts identified as:

(a) in 1953 when the Eisenhower administration created the Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs in the State Department
(b) in 1979, when the cultural programs at the State Department were
transferred into USIA
(c) in 1999, when USIA was absorbed into the State Department.

A relative lack of importance of cultural and exchange programs compared to information programs and international broadcasting is also observed; the dissolution of USIA showed the low priority of public diplomacy during the post Cold War period (those employed in public diplomacy have roughly halved as have the number of exchange participants).

It also notes that “The organization of public diplomacy has been particularly vulnerable to
political influences,” (p. 14) and the problem with enumerating the devices of public diplomacy is that it does seem like outlining the plans of a family of grifters. Active involvement and funding for cultural diplomacy “occurred only during times of a foreign threat or crisis”

One problem with the report is that there is one mention of the CIA (on a Malthusian “youth bulge theory”) or other intelligence and para-military aspects of US foreign policy and this is symptomatic of a wider failing in respect of public diplomacy being examined in a vacuum as it were, or, what might stand as a public diplomacy project beyond the control of liking of the US government: a massacre, an invasion, crime, negative stereotypes, political corruption and intrigue and so on: is Camp X-RAY an exchange programme? Objectivity would appear to be treasonous and replaced with highly questionable assertions such as:

the prominence of Under Secretary Hughes had improved the public diplomacy perspective and inter-regional initiatives in policy making in recent years.(p. 26)

whereas there is much talk of the involvement of the private sector there is no discussion of organisations such as the Heritage Foundation or the influence and effect of the Israel lobby.

Richard H. Shultz Jr. is Professor of International Politics at the Fletcher School and his CV on the university’s site tells us that he writes with Roy Godson and has done since the early 1980s in publications such as a special issue of International Studies Notes (Winter 1983) devoted to teaching foreign intelligence. The three articles prepared for the issue include: “Teaching Foreign Intelligence;” “Intelligence —The Evolution of a New Teaching Subject;” and “Resource Materials on Intelligence;” “Covert Action,” in Intelligence Requirements for the 1990s, ed. by Roy Godson (Lexington, MA: Lexington Books, 1989).

Shultz produced several books promoting the Soviet Union as behind world terrorism (often funded by the Hoover Institution) such as: “Countering Third World Marxist-Leninist Regimes: Policy Options for the United States,” in Vulnerabilities of Third World Marxist-Leninist Regimes: Implications for U.S. Policy (New York: Pergamon-Brassey’s, 1985); “The Role of the Soviet Union in Promoting Insurgency in the Third World,” in National Security Strategy: Choices and Limits, ed. by Stephen Cimbala (New York: Praeger, 1984); “Low Intensity Conflict: The Nature of the Soviet Role,” in Strategic Response to Conflict in the 1980s, ed. by William J. Taylor, Jr. (Lexington, MA: Lexington Books, 1984); “Soviet Strategy and Support for International Terrorist Groups,” in The 1980s: Decade of Confrontation? (Washington, DC: The National Security Affairs Institute, 1982) and Hydra of Carnage: The International Linkages of Terrorism (Lexington, MA: Lexington Books, 1985). Co-editor with Uri Ra’anan, Robert L. Pfaltzgraff, Jr., Ernst Halperin, and Igor Lukes.

Shultz’s CV also notes that he is a Director of the Armed Groups Project, of the National Strategy Information Center (which funded the IEDSS). This

seeks to understand the complex nature of armed groups and explore approaches for meeting these challenges. The project, under the auspices of the Washington-based National Strategy Information Center (NSIC), builds on the Center’s long standing efforts to institutionalize university teaching and research on various major dimensions of international security. In the 1980s it pioneered intelligence studies, institutionalizing teaching and research about it in universities and academic associations in the U.S. In the 1990s, NSIC initiated a project to revise university curriculum in security studies in the aftermath of the Cold War.

Shultz has also Lectured annually on topics related to political violence and terrorism during 1993-1998 in the Department of International Relations. As a Research Fellow at the United States Institute of Peace, during 1989 he:

received a research grant to focus on the question of whether specific guidelines on the use of covert action could be conceptualized within a policy framework that combined attention to both vital national interests and democratic principles.

John Roosa in The National Reporter’s (1985) Tufts University: Students Counter Spies, explored Tufts’ policy of allowing the CIA to recruit on campus. Documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act are used to show that there were high-level ties between Fletcher and the CIA related to recruitment going back at least to 1972, including Schultz’s work “with two CIA-linked think tanks, the National Strategy Information Center and Roy Godson’s Consortium for the Study of Intelligence”. According to the report, professors with ties (either directly or as advisers) to intelligence included:

William Griffith, the CIA liaison at Radio Free Europe until 1958, then M.I.T.’s Center for International Studies (funded by the CIA). Griffith’s International Communism project and his M.I.T. salary were paid by the CIA until the mid-l960s. His courses were on radical and communist theories and practice.

John Roche a member of Richard Nixon’s commission, headed by Milton Eisenhower to oversee the removal of Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty from CIA control. During his first four years at Fletcher, he served on the Board for International Broadcasting, overseeing Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty operations.

Leonard Unger, who came to Fletcher after retiring from the Foreign Service, had been deeply involved in U.S. war planning for Indochina. In Thailand, he is known to have supervised the counterinsurgency operations.

Hewson Ryan was deputy director at the United States Information Agency during the Johnson Administration. Headed the Murrow Center for Public Diplomacy and taught courses on propaganda and on Central America. At the Murrow Center, he replaced Philip Horton, a former CIA Officer and the longtime editor of the now-defunct CIA-funded magazine, The Reporter.

Theodore Eliot: inspector general of the Foreign Service from 1978 to 1979. He replaced Edmund Gullion.

The report adds:

Fletcher has been eager however to take money from the two foundations most active in recent years in publicly promoting the need for a strong CIA. One of them, the Scaife Foundation (together with the closely linked Scaife Family Charitable Trusts and Allegheny Foundation) has provided the largest part of Fletcher’s foundation backing since 1977, donating over $1.5 million. The other, the Smith Richardson Foundation, contributed over $100,000 from 1979 to 1981 for two projects it describes as a “project on [the] history of Vietnamese communism” and the “completion of [a] study of communist propaganda and political warfare.” Since 1978, these two foundations have also provided most of the private funding to Pfaltzgraff’s Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis, with Scaife alone donating over $500,000. The promotional efforts of the CIA by these foundations, consisting so far of at least eleven separate projects together costing over $500,000, appear to have begun on October 30, 1978, when Scaife president Richard Larry phoned Ernest Lefever (an IFPA “research consultant”) to ask if his Ethics and Public Policy Center at Georgetown University would supervise a study of media treatment of the CIA and the KGB. This work resulted in the pro-CIA collection by Lefever and Roy Godson, The CIA and the American Ethic.

The CIA on Campus site has a range of material on its subject, but these tend not to date after the 1990, with some exceptions, such as Chris Mooney’s (2000) For Your Eyes Only, which can be used to demonstrate a possible shift in emphasis:

In general, academics who have done classified work strenuously protest that their scholarship and teaching remain untainted. For Harvard Kennedy School dean Joseph Nye, who chaired the CIA’s National Intelligence Council — and has held positions in the State Department, Defense Department, and National Security Council — classified consulting is acceptable, provided it’s not secret. Rather than demonizing academic consulting, Nye says, “I think the taboo should be against doing classified work in a university setting,” noting that Harvard has disallowed such practices. But as far as charges of conflict of interest are concerned, Nye insists that his intelligence ties have not prejudiced his scholarship. “I certainly have not tried to write things which are for the sake of the government,” he says.

Apart from Nye, the opinions of Robert Keohane are offered:

Some academics see government ties as producing not servile scholarship but better-informed foreign policy. Academic consultancies can help prevent intelligence errors resulting from inadequate analysis, says Daniel Deudney, a Johns Hopkins political scientist who has consulted for numerous government security and intelligence agencies, including the CIA. “The reluctance of academics to talk to the CIA is against everyone’s interests,” Deudney avers. Robert Keohane, former president of the APSA and of the ISA, has chosen not to be bound by ties to the government, but he believes that scholars who choose otherwise are rewarded with considerable influence. “I think there are trade-offs in life,” says Keohane. “I don’t have any day-to-day influence over policy. I can’t pick up the phone and call the secretary of state or defense because they’re personal friends or I work for them. Right? So I trade that off, and for that I get my independence and my ability to theorize without ever worrying about what they think of me.”

However, the site contains an excerpt from Irving Louis Horowitz (1967) The Rise and Fall of Project Camelot: Studies in the Relationship Between Social Science and Practical Politics, which outlined a previous large-scale co-option of social scientists in Project Camelot:

Project CAMELOT is a study whose objective is to determine the feasibility of developing a general social systems model which would make it possible to predict and influence politically significant aspects of social change in the developing nations of the world.

And this is augmented by A Communist Commentary on Camelot by Jorge Montes, and excerpts from Ellen Herman, “Project Camelot and the Career of Cold War Psychology.” In Universities and Empire: Money and Politics in the Social Sciences During the Cold War, Christopher Simpson, ed. (New York: The New Press, 1998), pp. 97-133. Excerpts are from p. 113 and pp. 118-19.

Academics who write on Cold War intellectual history often invoking and extend Eisenhower’s ‘military-industrial complex’s’ impact on universities, to the “Military-Intellectual Complex” or the “Military-Industrial-Academic Complex” or the “academic-national security complex,” with a focus on the “military-industrial capture” of scholarly agendas, or the “annexation of the social sciences,” Simpson, in particular describes cold-war era social science as joined to American military power in a “paradigm of domination,” whereby scholars rationalise US power overseas to make its use more effective. Robert A. Nisbet’s (1999) Tradition and Revolt, outlined the project before the Church Committee revealed more on the extent of the CIA’s destabilisation programmes (an indictment of the intellectuals itself).


1. John Stauber and Sheldon Rampton (2004) Toxic Sludge is Good for You.
2. John Stauber and Sheldon Rampton (2004) Toxic Sludge is Good for You.
3. Robert Parry (2004) Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq. See also: Robert Parry (1992) The Advertising Agency, Washington Monthly, November.
4. Evan Thomas (1984) A Reagan Crony on the Line, Time, January 9, states that Wick suggested that Margaret Thatcher disapproved of the Grenada invasion because “she is a woman,” and once ‘produced a movie called Snow White and the Three Stooges’, and was thought to have had “a total lack of experience in foreign affairs”. Presumably these attributes are thought to be linked in some way.
5. Mark Schapiro (1985) Is anybody out there watching? Charlie Wick’s latest flop —US Information Agency, Washington Monthly, October.
6. Kelli Coughlin Schoen (2003) Charles Z. Wick Timeline, Miller Center of Public Affairs, University of Virginia. This quotes Alvin A. Snyder (1995) Warriors of Disinformation: American Propaganda, Soviet Lies, and the Winning of the Cold War, New York: Arcade Publishing, p. 5. Charles Wick and Robert Gray serve as co-chairmen of the 1981 Presidential Inaugural Committee. (The New York Times, 11/16/1980).
7. The New York Times, 12/15/1981.
8. The New York Times, 11/28/1982.
9. Timothy E. Wirth (2005) Remarks by Hon. Timothy E. Wirth President, United Nations Foundation, “Public Diplomacy and Communications ” Ambassador Walter H. Annenberg Symposium at University of Southern California Los Angeles, California March 22.
10. The New York Times, 1/20/1983.
11. Evan Thomas (1984) A Reagan Crony on the Line, Time, January 9.
12. The Washington Post, 2/10/1984.
13. Snyder, pp. 206-212.
14. Kelli Coughlin Schoen (2003) Charles Z. Wick Timeline, Miller Center of Public Affairs, University of Virginia.
16. Edmund Asbury Gullion, 85, Wide-Ranging Career Envoy, New York Times, March 31, 1998.
18. Corporate Communication Institute, Practices & Trends Study 2005: Final Report, March 2006.
21. Private Sector Summit On Public Diplomacy: Models for Action, A Cooperative Initiative of the
U.S. Department of State and the PR Coalition, 2007. Available at
22. Erin M. Hart (2008) The “New Exchanges:” Challenges and Opportunity for U.S. Public
Diplomacy in the Middle East, Seminar on U.S. Public Diplomacy, The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.
23. Joseph Nye, Soft Power: The Means to Success in World Politics (New York: Public Affairs, 2004), 109.

*Back to the The Institute for European Defence and Strategic Studies


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