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> From: H-Net Staff <revh...@mail.h-net.msu.edu>
> Date: March 19, 2017 at 12:29:34 PM EDT
> To: h-rev...@h-net.msu.edu
> Subject: H-Net Review [H-Diplo]: Robertson on Notaker and Scott-Smith and
> Snyder, 'Reasserting America in the 1970s: U.S. Public Diplomacy and the
> Rebuilding of America's Image Abroad'
> Reply-To: H-Net Staff <revh...@mail.h-net.msu.edu>
> Hallvard Notaker, Giles Scott-Smith, David J. Snyder, eds.
> Reasserting America in the 1970s: U.S. Public Diplomacy and the
> Rebuilding of America's Image Abroad. Key Studies in Diplomacy
> Series. Manchester Manchester University Press, 2016. 256 pp.
> $34.95 (paper), ISBN 978-1-78499-331-3.
> Reviewed by Brian R. Robertson (Texas A & M University, Central
> Published on H-Diplo (March, 2017)
> Commissioned by Seth Offenbach
> In 1990, Peter N. Carroll titled his comprehensive history of the
> 1970s _It Seemed Like Nothing Happened: America in the 1970s_. While
> Carroll's study reemphasized that the 1970s was not merely a calm,
> tranquil decade following the tumultuous 1960s, it helped challenge
> popular conceptions of the decade. Several noteworthy books would
> follow, including Edward Berkowitz's _Something Happened: A Political
> and Cultural Overview of the Seventies _(2005) and Bruce Schulman and
> Julian Zelizer's _Rightward Bound: Making America Conservative in the
> 1970s _(2008). In the field of diplomatic history, numerous scholars
> of the period have previously focused on grand strategy--whether it
> be Raymond Garthoff's classic study _Détente and Confrontation:
> American-Soviet Relations from Nixon to Reagan_ (1994) or Jussi
> Hanhimaki's biography of Henry Kissinger, _The Flawed Architect:
> Henry Kissinger and American Foreign Policy _(2004). Yet, as
> _Reasserting America in the 1970s: U.S. Public Diplomacy and the
> Rebuilding of America's Image Abroad_ confirms, there is still much
> to be gained from studying American public diplomatic efforts in the
> Most of the essays within this volume begin during the height of the
> civil rights movement and against the backdrop of the Vietnam War in
> the mid-to-late 1960s. While many of them explore the Richard Nixon
> administration's and the United States Information Agency's (USIA)
> response to the turbulence of the 1960s, others more closely examine
> public diplomacy in the aftermath of the Vietnam War, Watergate, and
> the Church Committee Investigations. What makes the volume even more
> intriguing is that part 1 of the collection emphasizes the United
> States' attempts to refine the nation's reputation, while part 2
> focuses on the world's response to US public diplomatic endeavors.
> In the first essay of part 1, "Devil at the Crossroads," Nicholas J.
> Cull traces the development of the USIA from its creation during the
> Dwight Eisenhower administration to its termination in 1999. While
> several reorganizational attempts failed to separate public diplomacy
> from the State Department--most notably, the reform recommendations
> produced by the "Stanton Panel" led by Frank Stanton--USIA's
> inflexibility and tie to the Cold War ultimately led to its demise.
> As Cull writes, "U.S. public diplomacy has been trying to recover
> ever since. It is high time to reconsider Stanton's arguments for a
> radical rethinking of culture and exchange and once again consider a
> new beginning for U.S. public diplomacy to fit the needs of an
> increasingly independent world" (p. 37).
> In addition to two excellent essays, "The Sister City Network in the
> 1970s" by Brian C. Etheridge and "The Exposure of CIA Sponsorship of
> Radio Free Europe" by Kenneth Osgood in part 1, Laura A. Belmonte
> ("USIA Responds to the Women's Movement, 1960-75") and Michael K.
> Krenn ("'The Low Key Mulatto Coverage'") analyze the USIA's portrayal
> of American women and African Americans. Belmonte documents USIA's
> remarkable shift--and the behind-the-scenes struggles and debates
> over how to present women and women's history--from portraying women
> as homemakers and consumers in the 1950s and 1960s to celebrating
> women's professional accomplishments in 1975. Krenn's conclusions are
> less sanguine, as the USIA attempted to conceal racial tensions by
> highlighting economic individualism and the "black capitalism"
> policies advocated by the Nixon administration. While such scholars
> as Dean Kotlowski in _Nixon's Civil Rights: Politics, Principle, and
> Policy _(2001) have written somewhat favorably on Nixon's civil
> rights policies, Krenn sees the emphasis on "black capitalism"
> negatively, writing that "the essential goal of 'whitening' the
> 'black problem' remained" (p. 105).
> American arts diplomacy and enthusiasm for the space program as
> public diplomacy suffered in the 1970s as well. In "Paintbrush
> Politics," Claire Bower shows how artists in the early 1960s eagerly
> accepted governmental sponsorship and funding for using their works
> as instruments of cultural diplomacy, but after many artists began to
> participate in the anti-war movement and protest American foreign
> policy, funding and artists' interest in United States' cultural
> diplomacy collapsed. Likewise, as Teasel Muir-Harmony shows in
> "Selling Space Capsules, Moon Rocks, and America," the United States'
> diplomatic efforts at accentuating the space program and even
> developing a cooperative space program with the Soviets disintegrated
> in the face of inflation and the breakdown of détente.
> Allesandro Brogi commences part 2 of the volume with an essay on
> Eurocommunism, "America's Public Diplomacy in France and Italy during
> the Years of Eurocommunism," and covers the French Communist Party's
> (PCF) and French International Communist Party's (PCI) response to US
> public diplomacy. Brogi soft-pedals the effectiveness of American
> guided diplomacy and recounts a striking incident when members of
> Charles De Gaulle's presidential staff proposed to Henry Kissinger a
> covertly funded US propaganda campaign intended to discredit the PCF
> and PCI (Kissinger turned down the offer). Ultimately, Brogi
> suggests, "it was, however, economic guidance and strategic
> reassurance that the Europeans sought from Washington, while
> America's images and intentions were still widely questioned, perhaps
> more than before" (p. 156).
> Part 2 continues as John C. Stoner explores US public diplomacy with
> South Africa and sheds further light on the USIA's paltry but subtle
> attempts at challenging apartheid ("Selling America between
> Sharpville and Soweto"). In "Selling the American West on the
> Frontier of the Cold War," Benjamin P. Greene focuses on American
> endeavors to solidify German-American relations and, in the late
> 1960s, to provide counter-narratives to the Vietnam anti-war movement
> at the Berlin Volkfest. Part 2 is rounded out with exceptional
> chapters from Barbara Keys on human rights ("Something to Boast
> About"), M. Todd Bennett on the 1976 American bicentennial and the
> normalization of US-Swedish relations ("Time to Heal the Wounds"),
> and John M. Rosenburg's account of American diplomatic efforts to
> project an image of military strength after the Vietnam War and the
> oil crisis following the October War ("Present Danger, Defense
> Spending, and the Perception of American Power Abroad, 1973-1980").
> In the "Unquiet American," Paul M. McGarr astutely analyzes the
> international response to the Church Committee's revelations and the
> inability of policymakers to separate the image of American foreign
> policy from the perfidious reputation of the Central Intelligence
> Hallvard Notaker, Giles Scott-Smith, and David J. Snyder have brought
> together a superb collection of essays authored by first-rate
> historians. In particular, _Reasserting America in the 1970s_
> succeeds at showing how US public diplomats marketed the United
> States to a skeptical world in the aftermath of the Vietnam War and
> Watergate, and attempted to manage discourse through public and
> private cooperation, and how diplomats and foreign audiences
> interpreted the messages. The volume not only is an indispensable
> addition to the study of diplomatic history but is also timely, as it
> fits in nicely with the recent historiographical thrust that
> recognizes the 1970s as a pivotal decade in American history.
> Citation: Brian R. Robertson. Review of Notaker, Hallvard;
> Scott-Smith, Giles; Snyder, David J., eds., _Reasserting America in
> the 1970s: U.S. Public Diplomacy and the Rebuilding of America's
> Image Abroad_. H-Diplo, H-Net Reviews. March, 2017.
> URL: https://www.h-net.org/reviews/showrev.php?id=48803
> This work is licensed under a Creative Commons
> Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States
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