The New Diplomacy: Propaganda and U.S. Foreign Relations in the Early 20th Century

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Ohio State University. Mershon Center for International Security Studies

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Every major foreign office in the world ... is doing things today which it would have considered startling, if not improper, even ten years ago," an American official observed in the mid-20th century. He was speaking about propaganda, and about the increasingly commonplace act of meddling in the internal affairs of other countries. When he spoke, propaganda had already become an established fact of international relations. Gradually over the first half of the 20th century, the ancient art of diplomacy was transformed by the ongoing communications revolution. Foreign policy experts increasingly acknowledged that negotiations needed to take place on two levels: the diplomatic level between governments and the popular level to win international support for policies. Propaganda emerged as a critical element of the nation's foreign policy: not only publicizing ideas and manipulating minds, but changing the very act of diplomacy itself.


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diplomacy, propganda, foreign relations, 20th Century