Monday, February 1, 2016

Classic Quotable: Edward R. Murrow -- “history has no patience” (1963); see also.

Saturday, January 30th 2016
On May 17, 1963, the Director of the U.S. Information Agency, Edward R. Murrow, sent a memorandum to David E. Bell, Director of the Bureau of the Budget, asking for additional funds.  They were needed because of “the crushing defeat of the Cuban landings” at the Bay of Pigs and the “deteriorating political and military situation in Southeast Asia.”  James Warren analyzed the memorandum in an article, “The Struggle to Propagate the Truth,” which appeared on the website ofU.S. News and World Report on December 30, 2015.  Warren’s article included a link to Murrow’s six-page memorandum, originally marked “Confidential.”  The memorandum included a peroration:

In this century of crises, no crisis has been graver than that which we now face. History has no patience with alibis. Generations yet unborn will ask: "Did they try to preserve for us the land and the ideals of Washington and Jefferson and Lincoln? Or, like the ancient Carthaginians, did they – figuratively speaking – offer their children as hostages in a vain effort to hold back the enemy?"

We are in a war both hot and cold, a war for men's minds as well as their bodies, a war for men's souls as well as their goods. This Agency could operate for four hundred years on one year's appropriation for the Defense Department. We do not dispute the spending of vast sums for physical defense. Nor are we asking billions for propaganda – propagation of the truth. But if we are unwilling to do what must be done to preserve and promote our ideals, we may have alien ideas imposed on us and our allies.

As never before, USIA urgently needs adequate resources to do the job which must be done; not only the funds requested herein but also substantially all of our original request.

Warren commented, “The Obama administration has continued a tradition of modestly financed and seemingly subpar world-wide media efforts that trace themselves to Cold War attempts to confront and rebut communism.”

Author: Donald M. Bishop

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