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Title: The United States Information Agency and Italy during the Johnson Presidency, 1963-1969
Author: Sara, D'Agati
ISNI:       0000 0004 6424 6026
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2017
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The United States Information Agency (USIA) was the official propaganda agency of the American government. During the period of the Johnson administration, its programme in Italy was the second largest in Western Europe, right after West Germany and immediately before France. This dissertation examines the USIA programme, and places it within the larger context of American policy towards Italy at this crucial juncture in the history of both countries. Beginning in the 1950s, following the traumatic experience of World War II and the unthinkable implications of nuclear warfare, the bipolar conflict was progressively channelled into non-military means of combat. In addition to the better known methods of traditional diplomacy, the threat of force, and economic aid, the United States deployed new instruments to win the ‘battle for hearts and minds’ against the Soviet Union. These new instruments included public diplomacy, cultural and educational exchanges, and ‘overt’ and ‘covert’ propaganda operations. This exercise of soft power became one of the main instruments used to stop the expansion of communism and to unite NATO countries behind American leadership. Yet this task was particularly demanding during the Johnson years, when the image of the Unites States abroad was tarnished as never before by the civil rights struggle and the escalation of the Vietnam War. Italy is a particularly interesting and important case study of American psychological warfare in Western Europe. Not only did the country host the largest Communist Party in the West, the Partito Comunista Italiano (PCI), for the entire duration of the cold war, –– but Italy also had more than twenty governments in the first two decades of the post-war era. At a deeper level, the country oscillated between two different political formulas, centrismo and a centre-left coalition. As a result it proved impossible to carry out the structural reforms needed to ensure the country’s stability. The government’s inability to ‘keep Italy on track’ and to effectively oppose the communist threat led to the deployment of an extensive USIA programme in Italy. Surprisingly, this topic has not been studied intensively. Although there is a rich literature on American influence in the Italian election of 1948, and there has been some discussion of American psychological warfare in Italy during the fifties, no scholar has carried out an in-depth study on the role of US public diplomacy in Italy during the sixties, particularly the Johnson era. The dissertation is based on detailed research in the Johnson and Nixon libraries as well as at the National Archives in College Park, Maryland where the official documents of the USIA (RG 306) are located. On the Italian side, I have analyzed the major Italian newspapers, radio and TV shows targeted by the agency.
Supervisor: Reynolds, David Sponsor: AHRC
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Public Diplomacy ; USIA ; Italy ; Cultural Diplomacy ; Unites States ; Cold War ; Lyndon Johnson