July 1969 - Twenty-Fourth Report of the United States Advisory Commission on Information
Frank Stanton, chairman
Sigurd S. Larmon
M. S. Novik
Staff Director: Louis T. Olom
The Commission used this report as a petition to foster greater support for international information activities. The language is ardent and calls attention to the large discrepancies between military funding and international affairs and USIA funding (a ratio of 94.6 to 5.4). The report called for USIA to make improvements to its libraries and information centers, as well as develop and utilize more useful research and technology. The Commission also recommended for USIA to play a more prominent role within the US Government (i.e. in the National Security Council). The Commissioners proposed for the President to undertake a reexamination of US information policy by appointing a Committee of Nine—one member each from the Senate, the House of Representatives, the National Security Council, USIA, the US Advisory Commission on Information, and three members from the private sector who are knowledgeable on information and education and cultural affairs.
Our national commitment is incomplete. We are quick to advocate “mutual understanding,” but slow to establish the conditions for its accomplishment. We lament communication gaps, or credibility gaps, or information gaps, but throw few lines across them. We claim to be motivated by “a decent respect to the opinions of mankind,” yet keep those charged with that concern at arm’s length from the national policy process. We profess to seek the solution to men’s problems with words, not weapons. But in fiscal 1968, we spent $80.5 billion for “national defense” and $4.6 billion for “international affairs and finance”—a ratio of 94.6 to 5.4.
There are four channels through which a nation may conduct its foreign affairs. The first is diplomacy. The second is trade. The third is communication. The fourth is force. Three are complimentary, the last is alternative. Indeed, the last alternative. It is indicative of the disordered priorities of our time that 95 percent of our foreign affairs moneys are devoted to the channel that the other 5 percent is dedicated to avoid.
The time has passed when governments could control information dissemination—and, thereby, what their people think.