Monday, July 27, 2015

75th Anniversary of Sumner Welles Declaration – U.S. Public Diplomacy from Success to Failure at BBG


bbgwatch.com

Welles image from

Extract:

This week marked the 75th anniversary of the Welles Declaration, one of the most powerful and enduring U.S. public diplomacy documents of the 20th century. Issued on July 23, 1940 by Sumner Welles, the United States’ acting Secretary of State, it condemned the June 1940 occupation by the Soviet Union of the three Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, and refused to recognize their annexation as Soviet Republics. Even though with regard to the rest of Central and Eastern Europe, the Roosevelt Administration later violated the high principles outlined in the Welles Declaration, the non-recognition of the annexation of the Baltic states by the U.S. Government continued until they regained their independence after the fall of the Soviet Union. ... 

Former Acting U.S. Secretary of State Sumner Welles would have turned in his grave if saw how BBG/IBB [see] responded to the annexation of Crimea. He knew the power of public diplomacy and understood the need for making a strong and unambiguous statement in response to a major violation of international law. That’s why we thought that BBG/IBB executives responsible for the 2014 public opinion poll in Russia-occupied Crimea and those who did nothing as its faulty results were being heralded in Washington and around the world by VOA would benefit from familiarizing themselves with the Welles Declaration on its 75th anniversary. Not because we believe that VOA should be engaged directly in public diplomacy, but because we believe that VOA should report news accurately and present the policies of the United States clearly and effectively as required by the VOA Charter. ...

Established in the early 1950s under a secret funding channeled through the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberation (later renamed Radio Liberty) became highly successful platforms for free exchange of democratic ideas as well as respected journalistic organizations. In most of the Soviet block, they quickly became more effective than the Voice of America and achieved much higher audience reach because of their local and surrogate status. Their primary purpose, however, was not to serve as a tool of U.S. public diplomacy . ...

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