Public Opinion and Foreign Policy

By Lester Markel; Council on Foreign Relations. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER SIX
MORE THAN DIPLOMACY

By W. Phillips Davison

THE PRESIDENT, the Congress and the military are important influences in making foreign policy and in moulding public opinion about that policy. But the basic agency is, of course, the State Department. That is why, as has been said, the Department has the ranking place in this book. That is why its opinion operations should be studied in greater detail than any of the others. This chapter is such a study of the State Department's operations in the field of opinion at home.

The functions of the Department with regard to public opinion in the nation are largely organized in the Office of Public Affairs, under jurisdiction of the Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs. In this office are several divisions dealing with special fields.1 The functions at home are twofold:

First there are the intelligence functions. The Department must know what people are thinking about foreign policy. It has to gauge public opinion to determine what policies do have widespread support and what policies do not. It has to discover and classify the areas of ignorance

____________________
1
See Chart A on next page, describing the set-up as of January 20, 1949, when Secretary Acheson took over. It was expected that he would make a number of structural changes to consolidate the various phases of the information operation. Such a reorganization constitutes a long step in the right direction; yet what is needed, as this book attempts to demonstrate, is more than structural reorganization. What is also needed is a change in spirit that will give the public opinion operations its proper place in the work of the Department.

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