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Practicing Public Diplomacy

Practicing Public Diplomacy: A Cold War Odyssey

Yale Richmond
Copyright Date: 2008
Edition: NED - New edition, 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 192
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  • Book Info
    Practicing Public Diplomacy
    Book Description:

    There is much discussion these days about public diplomacy-communicating directly with the people of other countries rather than through their diplomats-but little information about what it actually entails. This book does exactly that by detailing the doings of a US Foreign Service cultural officer in five hot spots of the Cold War - Germany, Laos, Poland, Austria, and the Soviet Union - as well as service in Washington DC with the State Department, the Helsinki Commission of the US Congress, and the National Endowment for Democracy. Part history, part memoir, it takes readers into the trenches of the Cold War and demonstrates what public diplomacy can do. It also provides examples of what could be done today in countries where anti-Americanism runs high.

    eISBN: 978-0-85745-013-5
    Subjects: History, Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acronyms
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Foreword
    (pp. xi-xiv)
    Jack F. Matlock Jr.

    Yale richmond’s memoir is timely. It comes when American prestige in the world is lower than it has been in recent memory, a shocking reversal of the situation when Mr. Richmond was working in the diplomatic trenches during the Cold War. The rising criticism of United States policy abroad, however, is not the result of the failure of public diplomacy—as some would have it—but of a failure of policy. Even the most vigorous public diplomacy cannot salvage a failed policy.

    A few months before the United States invaded Iraq in 2003, former Speaker Newt Gingrich wrote an article...

  5. Preface
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 1-4)

    “Culture vulture” was the condescending term given to cultural officers by information officers of the United States Information Agency (USIA), the government agency charged with “Telling America’s Story to the World,” as its motto described its mission before it was merged into the State Department in 1999. Information officers were regarded as the elite of the agency, the glamour boys, and occasionally girls, who hobnobbed abroad with newspaper editors and foreign correspondents, and churned out press releases, pamphlets, and propaganda. Cultural officers, by contrast, labored unsung, expediting cultural and educational exchanges, working with writers, and mixing with musicians. Information was...

  7. Chapter 1 Doing Democracy in Deutschland
    (pp. 5-22)

    Germany was where the Cold War began, divided as it was into four zones of occupation—US, British, and French in the west; and Soviet in the east. It was where I began my forty-three-year career in the trenches of the Cold War. And it was where the United States first put Public Diplomacy into practice, although the term had not yet been thought up.

    I arrived in Berlin in August 1947 as a US Military Government Intern, one of 100 young college graduates recruited to be the nucleus of a second generation of military governors in an occupation of...

  8. Chapter 2 Nation Building in Laos
    (pp. 23-36)

    When the French garrison at Dien Bien Phu fell to the communist-led Vietminh on 7 May 1954, it marked the end of ninety years of French colonial rule in Indochina. Two months later, the Geneva Accords called for a temporary division of Vietnam at the seventeenth parallel, to be followed by “free and fair elections” monitored by the international community. The sovereignty and territorial integrity of Laos and Cambodia, the two other parts of Indochina, were also recognized.

    Little landlocked Laos became a constitutional monarchy with a king, Sisavang Vong, resident in the remote royal capital of Luang Prabang in...

  9. Chapter 3 Back to the Books
    (pp. 37-39)

    My reward for having served two difficult and dangerous, as well as productive, years in Laos was USIA’s Meritorious Service Award and the offer of two years of Chinese language and area studies, the first year at the Foreign Service Institute (FSI) in Washington, and the second at an FSI school on Taiwan. I accepted the award but turned down the Chinese study.

    Chinese language study was tempting, but an assignment in China was not possible at the time, nor in the then foreseeable future. As a Chinese-language officer, I would have had to look forward to future postings in...

  10. Chapter 4 A Voice to Vietnam
    (pp. 40-41)

    With my Polish studies completed, an assignment to Warsaw seemed assured, but for that I had to wait another year. USIA at that time had four positions in our Warsaw Embassy, but they were all filled and the person I had expected to replace decided to extend for another year. So, as often happens in the Foreign Service, I had to be “parked” somewhere for a year. And that’s how my experience in Laos got me a position at the Voice of America (VOA) as Director of its Vietnamese Service.

    The VOA assignment was not as strange as it may...

  11. Chapter 5 Poland—Russia’s Window on the West
    (pp. 42-61)

    Poland has often been described as Russia’s “Window on the West.” That’s because Poles, although a Slavic people, have been Roman Catholic since the tenth century, and culturally a part of Western Europe. Whether as an independent state or under Russian rule, whatever came to Poland from the West eventually found its way into Russia. That was true under Russian tsars in the nineteenth century, and under Soviet commissars in the twentieth.

    Poland was also a very special country. As the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in the Middle Ages it had been the largest country in Europe, holding sway over a vast...

  12. Chapter 6 Viennese Vignettes
    (pp. 62-67)

    After more than three years in Warsaw, I was assigned to Vienna, Austria, in November 1961, to head USIA’s Special Projects Office (SPO), a misnomer if there ever was one. In Soviet parlance, anything with the word “special” implied something secret or with an intelligence connection. That was not true of the Special Projects Office, a unit of USIS Vienna, although there was one rather unusual aspect of its work that I did not learn of until I arrived there.

    During the Cold War Vienna had a well deserved reputation as a city of espionage and intrigue. Both the Soviet...

  13. Chapter 7 East European Exchanges
    (pp. 68-72)

    The Soviet and East European Exchanges Staff, where I worked at the Department of State 1963–1966, was the office responsible for the political and security aspects of US exchanges with the Soviet Union and the countries of Eastern Europe. It was an important element in our public diplomacy effort during the Cold War to end the Soviet Bloc’s self-imposed isolation and engage it in cooperative activities. EUR/SES, as the office was known at State, had a staff of twelve, and was in the Bureau of European Affairs (EUR), the political bureau, rather than the Bureau of Educational and Cultural...

  14. Photos
    (pp. None)
  15. Chapter 8 Moscow and More
    (pp. 73-127)

    Moscow was a most unusual Foreign Service post. An assignment there was good for your career, and you could learn a lot about Russia and the Soviet Union, but there was not much that an American diplomat could do there to sway the mighty Russian colossus. Contacts with Soviet officials were limited, and those we were able to see did not make policy. Also limited were contacts with the Russian public, and any Russians we were able to befriend ran the risk of harassment by the KGB. Moreover, my 1967–1969 tour of duty took place when Russia was ruled...

  16. Chapter 9 Shafted by Shakespeare
    (pp. 128-135)

    Frank Shakespeare, the newly appointed director of the USIA, came to the Soviet Union in June 1969 to open a USIA exhibition, “Education USA,” in Leningrad. Shakespeare, a former CBS television executive, had advised Richard Nixon during his presidential campaign and was rewarded with the USIA post.¹ A staunch anti-Communist, Shakespeare had been a member of the college conservative group, Young Americans for Freedom (YAF), and was a friend of columnist William F. Buckley, Jr. In coming to Leningrad, Shakespeare was the first high-ranking official of the new administration to visit the Soviet Union since the inauguration of President Nixon...

  17. Chapter 10 Doing Détente at the Department
    (pp. 136-149)

    The State Department was an exciting place to work in the 1970s, the years of détente with the Soviet Union. But to get to State, I had to take a few detours in my career assignments. The first detour was a nine-month sabbatical (1969–1970) at the Senior Seminar in Foreign Policy—a State Department think tank, similar to the National War College, but conducted by State’s Foreign Service Institute. The seminar brought together each year twenty-five senior officers from State, USIA, USAID, CIA, Commerce, and other government agencies, and one each from the four military services.¹ The year I...

  18. Chapter 11 USIA + CU = USICA
    (pp. 150-152)

    One of the Carter administration’s first moves in its attempt to “streamline” the federal government was the merger, in 1979, of the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (CU) into the US Information Agency (USIA), renamed as the US International Communication Agency (USICA).¹ For those who follow such events, it was another chapter in the never-ending controversy over where to house the US government’s international information and cultural exchange activities, now known as Public Diplomacy.²

    Cultural exchanges have a long history at the Department of State. CU was established in 1938 as the Division of Cultural Relations, and...

  19. Chapter 12 Helsinki and Human Rights
    (pp. 153-160)

    After thirty years in the Foreign Service, I retired in January 1980 at age fifty-six. With my promotion to a management position as a USIA Deputy Assistant Director, I had become bored with budgets, pestered with personnel problems, and addled by administrative affairs. I also did not look forward, after a change of administrations, to briefing a new round of political appointees on the realities of foreign affairs and the details of dealing with the Russians.

    A few months spent at home were restful—reading, gardening, jogging, and napping—until I got a call from R. Spencer Oliver, Executive Director...

  20. Chapter 13 Doing Democracy at NED
    (pp. 161-164)

    In early 1984, while still at the Helsinki Commission, I received a telephone call from John Richardson, board chairman of the newly established National Endowment for Democracy (NED). Richardson, for whom I had worked at the State Department when he was Assistant Secretary for Educational and Cultural Affairs, asked if I would come crosstown to NED for thirty days and show them how to write grants. NED, he explained, was almost halfway through its first fiscal year with a budget of $18.5 million, but had not yet written one grant in support of democracy overseas. Richardson had cleared his request...

  21. Afterword
    (pp. 165-166)

    Will similar public diplomacy practices succeed in the twenty-first century? Can what worked to defeat communism in the twentieth century serve as a model for defeating terrorism and anti-Americanism in the much different world we live in today? Time will tell, but while our experience in the Soviet Union and other communist countries shows how difficult it can be to bring change to other countries, it also shows that patience can pay off.

    Stalin died in 1953, but it took more than thirty years for the system he established to be overturned. And that did not happen until a new...

  22. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 167-168)
  23. Index
    (pp. 169-175)
  24. Back Matter
    (pp. 176-176)