Sunday, October 12, 2014

A meeting of great minds, from two different centuries, on cultural relations/diplomacy

"Our approach to the neutral countries was simple and direct. Instead of prattling about 'cultural relations,' sending Hollywood stars on good-will missions, pouring out millions in largess, and begging an exchange of singers and dancers, we went straight to the governments with a plain statement of purpose." (1)

--George Creel, Chairman of the Committee on Public Information (1917-1919), the first USG propaganda agency, in his autobiography, Rebel at Large: Recollections of Fifty Crowded Years (1947), pp. 169-170

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"Sending a jazz trio to Budapest is not really what we want to do in 2014. We have to be tougher, we have to be harder, particularly in the information space, and we have to hit back."

--Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Richard Stengel, cited in Media Brian Knowlton, "US Vividly Rebuts Islamic State Propaganda on Arab Social Media," The New York Times/

(1) Note, however, the statement by Creel in his Rebel at Large, p. 4, regarding the life of his mother's ancestors on their Missouri property: "The fertile soil yielded rich harvests, and with slave labor necessitating no more than supervision on the part of the masters, there was the ample leisure that permits culture. Every home had its library, and New York newspapers and even London and Edinburgh quarterlies were exchanged and discussed."

On cultural diplomacy, see John Brown, "Is American Cultural Diplomacy a Hot Potato?" Notes and Essays (2013)

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