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American Cold War Propaganda Policy during the Truman Administration

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Part of the Global Conflict and Security since 1945 book series (GCON)

Abstract

At 7:00 p.m., on the night of August 14, 1945, US President Harry Truman announced to a group of reporters gathered around his desk that Japan had agreed to unconditional surrender. This announcement set off a wild celebration in Washington with almost half a million people filling the streets. Crowds gathered around the White House chanting “We want Truman!” Truman and his wife appeared on the front lawn of the White House, with Truman saying to the crowd, “This is great day, the day we’ve been waiting for. This is the day for free governments in the world. This is the day that fascism and police government ceases in the world.”1 Lost among the celebration were concerns about a Europe in ruin and the United States’ faltering partnership with a Soviet regime firmly in control of much of Central and Eastern Europe. It was in this spirit of wartime celebration that on August 31, 1945, President Truman signed an executive order abolishing the Office of War Information (OWI), the agency responsible for informing both Americans and foreigners about the American war during the Second World War.2 This was the beginning of a complex journey for American propaganda efforts, which resulted in very different propaganda strategy and policy than those pursued by Britain.

Keywords

Foreign Policy Information Program Central Intelligence Agency Iron Curtain Soviet Regime 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    David McCullough, Truman (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1992) p. 462–3.Google Scholar
  2. 4.
    Executive Order 9182, June 13, 1942 of Franklin Roosevelt as quoted in David Krugler, The Voice of America and the Domestic Propaganda Battles, 1945–1953 (Columbia, MO: University of Missouri Press, 2000), p. 30.Google Scholar
  3. 8.
    Saki Dockrill, Eisenhower’s New Look National Security Policy, 1953–1961 (London: Macmillan, 1996), p. 9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 33.
    Walter Isaacson and Evan Thomas, The Wise Men: Six Friends and the World They Made (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1986) p. 158.Google Scholar
  5. 40.
    Walter L. Hixson, “Reassessing Kennan After the Fall of the Soviet Union: The Vindication of X?,” The Historian, vol. 59, no. 4 (1997), pp. 849–58.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 41.
    George Kennan, Memoirs: 1925–1950 (Boston, MA: Little, Brown, 1967) pp. 397–414.Google Scholar
  7. 49.
    Walter L. Hixson, George F. Kennan: Cold War Iconoclast (New York: Columbia University Press, 1989), p. 56.Google Scholar
  8. 77.
    Ludwell Lee Montague, General Walter Smith As Director of Central Intelligence: October 1950–February 1953 (University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1992), pp. 224–5.Google Scholar
  9. 79.
    This term comes from Peter Coleman, The Liberal Conspiracy: The Congress for Cultural Freedom and the Struggle for the Mind of Postwar Europe (New York: Free Press, 1989).Google Scholar
  10. 80.
    W. Scott Lucas, “Beyond Freedom, Beyond Control: Approaches to Cultural and the State-Private Network in the Cold War,” Intelligence and National Security, vol. 18, no. 2 (Summer 2003), pp. 53–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 89.
    See for example Samuel F. Wells Jr., “Sounding the Tocsin: NSC 68 and the Soviet Threat,” International Security, vol. 4, no. 2 (Fall 1979) pp. 116–58CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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  13. Paul Nitze, “The Development of NSC 68,” International Security, vol. 4, no. 4(Spring 1980) pp. 170–6Google Scholar
  14. John Lewis Gaddis, Strategies of Containment: A Critical Appraisal of Postwar American National Security Policy (New York: Oxford University Press, 1982), pp. 89–126.Google Scholar
  15. 90.
    Paul H. Nitze, From Hiroshima to Glasnost: At the Center of Decision (New York: George Weidenfeld, 1989), p. 97, and Mitrovich, Undermining the Kremlin, pp. 47–58.Google Scholar
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    David Oshinsky, A Conspiracy so Immense: The World of Joe McCarthy (New York: Free Press, 1983), pp. 108–9.Google Scholar
  17. 117.
    Shawn J. Parry-Giles, The Rhetorical Presidency, Propaganda, and the Cold War, 1945–1955 (Westport, CT: Praeger Publications, 2002), pp. 75–96 calls this “militarized propaganda”.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Lowell H. Schwartz 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.RAND CorporationUSA

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