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Review of "The First Resorts of Kings" by Richard Arnd

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The book begins with the transition from history to memoir--a transition it never fully realizes--when Arndt made the jump from the academy to the foreign service in 1961. …

The book begins with the transition from history to memoir--a transition it never fully realizes--when Arndt made the jump from the academy to the foreign service in 1961.
First, there is a synthetic history of the various institutional attempts at a public diplomacy. Then, the author historicizes his personal experiences his long career.
He discusses the tensions arising during WWI and after between "unidirectional informationists" interested in spreading "truth" about American values and the proponents of reciprocal educational and cultural exchanges to build bridges of international understanding (p. 53).

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  • 1. Abdeslam Badre Institute of Cultural Diplomacy 2012 - Berlin 8/27/2012A GLIMPSE AT RICHARD T. ARNDT’S HALF A CENTURY OF US CD: .THE FIRST RESORT OF KINGS: AMERICAN CULTURAL DIPLOMACY IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY. Abdeslam Badre 1
  • 2. Abdeslam Badre Institute of Cultural 8/27/2012OUTLINE: Diplomacy 2012 - Berlin 1. The Author 2. The Book 3. Itinerary of US CD 1. Department division for cultural exchange: 1938 2. Postwar Decade 3. Dwight D. Eisenhower & USIA in 1953 4. Grandest hero: Senator J. William Fulbright 5. CAOs& the US "golden age" of CD 6. 1974 & Decline of US CD 4. The books most significant contribution to CD 5. Downfalls of the Book 6. References 2
  • 3. Abdeslam Badre Institute of Cultural 8/27/20121. THE AUTHOR Diplomacy 2012 - Berlin Richard T. Arndts relationship with U.S. cultural diplomacy has spanned more than a half-century. His book is the culmination of those decades of observing, practicing, contemplating, and, above all, believing in the "art of cultural diplomacy" (p. 550). In 1949,he became part of the initial wave of Fulbrighters to benefit from a pioneering program in international cultural exchange He spent the years 1961-85 serving in an official capacity with the Department of State and the United States Information Agency (USIA). He got professional training in French literature, and spent time as a CAO in locations as diverse as Beirut, Sri Lanka, and Tehran. In 1985, he returned from whence he came--the academy--to contemplate his experiences and use them to educate others. 3
  • 4. Abdeslam Badre Institute of Cultural 8/27/20122. THE BOOK Diplomacy 2012 - Berlin The book begins with the transition from history to memoir, starting from when Arndt made the jump from the academy to the foreign service in 1961. The first is a synthetic history of the various institutional attempts at a public diplomacy. The second historicizes his personal experiences his long career. He discusses the tensions arising during WWI and after between "unidirectional informationists" interested in spreading "truth" about American values and the proponents of reciprocal educational and cultural exchanges to build bridges of international understanding (p. 53). From WWI until 1938, the U.S. government handled the task of information, while the culture-for-cultures-sake idea developed primarily in the world of private philanthropy. 4
  • 5. Abdeslam Badre Institute of Cultural 8/27/20123. FIRST STATE DEPARTMENT DIVISION FOR CULTURAL Diplomacy 2012 - BerlinEXCHANGE: 1938 Secretary of State Cordell Hull, impressed with Pan-American commitments to cultural exchange at a 1936 Buenos Aires conference, established in 1938 the first State Department division dedicated to globalizing U.S. cultural exchange. Informationists and uncultured bureaucrats continually defile the culturalist purity of the founders vision. 5
  • 6. Abdeslam Badre Institute of Cultural 8/27/2012 Diplomacy 2012 - BerlinSUMNER WELLES & ARCHIBALD MACLEISH Two heroes of Arndts story--Sumner Welles and Archibald MacLeish--headed the division consecutively from its founding until the end of World War II. For Arndt, MacLeish defined the offices imperatives better than any of his successors: "In a divided world in which the real issue of division is the cultural issue, cultural relations are not irrelevancies. They are everything" (p. 61). 6
  • 7. Abdeslam Badre Institute of Cultural 8/27/2012 Diplomacy 2012 - Berlin4. POSTWAR DECADE The first postwar decade witnessed increased attention to the possibilities that public diplomacy presented. States Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (abbreviated CU) struggled for an identity trapped between the informationists and the culturalists. Prominent politicians like Nelson Rockefeller sought to blur the lines between unidirectional information (i.e., propaganda) and open and honest cultural exchange. 7
  • 8. Abdeslam Badre Institute of Cultural 8/27/2012 Diplomacy 2012 - Berlin5. DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER & USIA IN 1953 The creation of the USIA in 1953 aimed at correcting the balance, but the lines between the CUs and USIAs functions were never clearly articulated, generating decades of tensions between the two camps. Established by Dwight D. Eisenhower, "in a spirit of nationalist renewal, as a separate agency for nonmilitary psychological warfare," USIA effectively defeated the hopes of culturalists intent on conducting a public diplomacy divorced from narrow geopolitical interests (p. 237). Arndt painstakingly details decades of bureaucratic and congressional debate over the ends and means of cultural diplomacy. 8
  • 9. Abdeslam Badre Institute of Cultural 8/27/2012 Diplomacy 2012 - Berlin6. GRANDEST HERO: SENATOR J. WILLIAM FULBRIGHT Arndt believes that stage is Senator J. William Fulbright to be the progenitor of U.S. public diplomacy and his program to be the most successful and sustainable program. Arndt sees the program as the one unequivocal triumph of U.S. public diplomacy in the postwar era, because it did what good public diplomacy should do The U.S. government facilitated and stimulated exchanges and then it got out of the way. "just wanted to educate these goddam ignorant Americans!" (p. 178). By any measure the senator was successful: in its first dozen years the Fulbright Program could already count fifty thousand U.S. and foreign alumni It consumed half of CUs annual budget. 9
  • 10. Abdeslam Badre Institute of Cultural 8/27/2012 Diplomacy 2012 - Berlin7. CAOS& THE US “GOLDEN AGE" OF CD The exceptionally high quality of CAOs in the first two postwar decades made that period a "golden age" of public diplomacy. Arndt stresses that CU and USIA once valued placing uniquely talented intellectuals in the official service of cultural diplomacy. "Super-CAOs" Figures were intellectuals like the imperial historian Robin Winks and the political scientist Wayne Wilcox (p. 421). 10
  • 11. Abdeslam Badre Institute of Cultural 8/27/20128. 1974 & DECLINE OF US CD Diplomacy 2012 - Berlin With 1974’s USIAs decision to hire only "generalists," whom Arndt sees as cultural "apparatchiks" sufficiently competent at touting the party line but intellectually undistinguished (p. 457). It eliminated the "one constant of U.S. cultural diplomacy: its occasional and repeated capacity to put marvelous people in the field and let them do amazing things" (p. 458). In an act of misplaced idealism, the Jimmy Carter administration merged the functions of CU and USIA in 1978, granting the new union the title of International Communications Agency. By phasing out the super-CAOs, USIA effectively bureaucratized cultural diplomacy. USIAs 1974 decision marked the beginning of a decades-long decline in attention to public diplomacy that would ultimately result in Congress dissolution of the agency in 1999 The twenty-five-year struggle between the informationists in USIA and the culturalists in CU ended with USIA victory and the death knell for an independent cultural diplomacy. Arndts disillusion with the end of the golden age remains palpable throughout the book. Arndt is skeptical of the "revolution" swept into government by Ronald Reagans election. 11
  • 12. 9. THE BOOKS MOSTAbdeslamDiplomacy 2012of Cultural 8/27/2012 SIGNIFICANTBerlin Badre Institute - CONTRIBUTIONTO CD The books most significant contribution to new understanding of public diplomacy is in its detailing of the daily lives and activities of cultural affairs officers (CAOs). As Arndt writes, "The life of a CAO is a well-kept American secret" (p. 301). Generally CAOs were not stationed where their experience applied, nor did they stay in any one location for more than a few years; the idea was to prevent the development of affinities that might cloud rational assessments of U.S. national interest. He matches his personal recollections with published and unpublished memoirs of fellow CAOs, along with his memories of countless conversations over a lifetime. The result is a unique glance into public diplomacy at the "point of contact," where "talented" CAOs were always making remarkable connections with local populations but rarely received credit (p. 281). The final chapter summarizes the lessons of public diplomacys history for an era when the U.S. government has shunned it in favor of aggressive unilateralism. Arndts prescriptions include rebuilding the sort of CAO corps of talented intellectuals drawn from university life that dominated U.S. cultural diplomacy from WWII until the late 1960s. 12
  • 13. 10. DOWNFALLS OF THE BOOK Abdeslam Badre Institute of Cultural 8/27/2012 Diplomacy 2012 - Berlin The books primary weakness through all the talk of culture is that it fails to interrogate how cultures meaning changed dramatically in the postwar era. Arndt writes at the outset that "thoughtful cultural diplomats" use the term in the "anthropological" sense to "denote the complex factors of the mind and values which define a country or group, especially those factors transmitted by the processes of intellect" (p. xviii). Most no longer view it as so deterministic. Even so, culture still unfortunately functions throughout the book not as culture-as-determinant but in the even older sense of culture-as- art. for Arndts CAOs, culture was the realm of great white men who dedicated themselves to the "life of the mind." He also overlooked the fact that CAOs lived in one world of culture while much of the rest of the world lived in another. 13
  • 14. Abdeslam Badre Institute of Cultural 8/27/2012 Diplomacy 2012 - Berlin10. DOWNFALLS OF THE BOOK… The sort of culture in which the CAOs were interested was the kind they learned in classrooms at Harvard and Yale in the first half of the twentieth century. In fact, Arndts description of the CAO profession occasionally reads like nostalgia; when he describes fresh faces in CU as "new boys" (p. 75). He even disparages the Clinton administrations attempt to bring the U.S. cultural diversity to cultural diplomacy by hiring women and minorities, "which created a stress on appearance over excellence" (p. 539). The occasional impression in this otherwise highly informative text is that culture should remain the privileged domain of the cultured. 14
  • 15. Abdeslam Badre Institute of Cultural 8/27/2012 Diplomacy 2012 - BerlinREFERENCES Richard T. Arndt.The First Resort of Kings: American Cultural Diplomacy in the Twentieth Century. C.: Potomac Books, 2005 Drew McKevitt, Cultural Diplomacys True Believer(Department of History, Temple University)Publishedon H-Diplo (August,2008) Virginia Palm, personal review notes 15
  • 16. Abdeslam Badre Institute of Cultural 8/27/2012 Diplomacy 2012 - Berlin THANK YOU! 16