Strategies of persuasion
in US public diplomacy in socialist Yugoslavia, 1950–70
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The chapter analyses the general trends of US public diplomacy in Yugoslavia in the 1950s and 1960s, shaped by Yugoslav foreign relations and international positioning towards the United States and the Soviet Union, and its internal Party–State interactions. It starts by looking at divergences between Washington-conceived policies and the Yugoslav ‘field,’ and feedback from the first inspection programs. It examines how public diplomacy programs evolved from Eisenhower’s bolder strategy to JFK’s flexible response. The chapter accentuates parallel processes and consequential decision-making: Yugoslav patterns of resistance to American propaganda and official permissiveness; the spillover of world events in USIS–Yugoslav relations; late-1950s negative reaction towards USIS and the 1960 Press Law; the USIA/USIS response of a harder leader’s line and advancement of the program in that direction; changing Yugoslav public opinion; political/cultural rapprochement with the West in the 1960s; and Yugoslav hesitation between openness and control in the issue of foreign public diplomacy. USIS regarded its work as successful, both because of its popularity among audiences, and because of liberal cultural trends that, following the 1953 and 1963 Constitutions, left them more liberty in working with Yugoslav cultural leaders.

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