Left at the post?

Food for thought from the following quote:

Persuasion on an immense scale is here to stay.  Technological advance may have made this as important to diplomacy as the invention of gunpowder to the military. ... We still write diplomatic notes, but we try to reach directly into as many foreign homes as we can.  Every other major power is doing the same. ... I am convinced that unless the United States continues to utilize this new method we shall be left at the post by other countries which are becoming skilled in the use of mass media.

New methods in government, like new discoveries in science, can be used for good or ill.  Direct ... contact with foreign individuals may be taken advantage of to proclaim falsehood as well as truth.  But the potentialities of the direct approach are very great in both directions, and we must understand and perfect the techniques to protect and advance our interests.

More below the fold.

This text is tweaked from the original, which some may recall the quote as I posted it several months ago.  I replaced “propaganda” with “persuasion.”  With the change of words, did it sound any softer?  It was part of a major 1949 speech at Duke University by Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs George V. Allen, later Director of USIA (1957-1960).

When we look back to the 1940s and 1950s, were we really in the Industrial Era of Army against Army or still in a war of ideas, a psychological struggle?  Consider this quote:

More elusive and less stable…than all the other factors…is…national morale. …In the form of public opinion, it provides an intangible factor without whose support no government, democratic or autocratic, is able to pursue its policies with full effectiveness, if it is able to pursue them at all.

Diplomacy, one might say, is the brains of national power, as national moral is its soul. If its vision is blurred, its judgment defective, and its determination feeble, all the advantages of geographical location, of self-sufficiency in food, raw materials, and industrial product, of military preparedness, of size and quality of population will in the long run avail a nation little. …Often in history the Goliath without brains or soul has been smitten and slain by the David who had both.

The above is from Hans Morganthau’s Politics Among Nations