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Soft culture, cold partners
Author: Carla Konta

The book represents the first comprehensive account of the public and cultural diplomacy campaigns carried out by the United States in Yugoslavia during the height of the Cold War. Based on extensive multinational archival research, as well as private papers and personal interviews, this book charts the reasoning behind the US campaign and the impact it had on specific Yugoslav communities and individuals. American soft power, as a form of cultural power, deliberately sought to ‘open up’ a relatively closed society through the provision and diffusion of liberal traditions, ideas, and ideals. Tito and his Party allowed USIA and State Department cultural programs to enter Yugoslavia, liberated from Soviet control, to open cultural centres and pavilions at its main fairs, to broadcast Voice of America, and have American artists tour the country. Exchanges of intellectual and political personnel helped foster the US–Yugoslav relationship, but posed severe ideological challenges for both countries. By providing new insights into porous borders between freedom and coercion in Tito’s regime, the book shows how public diplomacy acted as an external input for Yugoslav liberalization and dissident movements. Meant for students, scholars, and general readers interested in the cultural Cold War, international relations, and diplomacy, this book fills a gap in the literature by looking at the political role of culture in US–Yugoslav bilateral relations, analysing the fluid links between information and propaganda, and the unintended effects propaganda can produce beyond the control of producers and receivers.

Abstract only
Carla Konta

This chapter investigates the multifaceted cultural program at the American posts in Belgrade and Zagreb, its aims, content and target public. As locations of the cultural vanguard, USIS attracted prominent Yugoslav intellectual and cultural intelligentsia. With 11,000 copies of the daily Bilten, and 25,000 of Pregled, a local USIS magazine, the American centres promoted book, magazine, exhibit, lecture, English teaching, music, and film-lending programs with the priority of advancing US foreign policy and disseminating American values and ideals. It analyses the major themes around which the library program revolved, such as American democracy, capitalism, and freedom. This chapter relies on four interviews of former USIS employees and visitors: USIS Zagreb library director, Nada Apsen, USIS Zagreb librarian, Zdenka Nikolić, USIS Belgrade librarian, Petar Nikolić, and Sonja Bašić, a Yugoslav USIS user.

in US public diplomacy in socialist Yugoslavia, 1950–70
Abstract only
(Ex)changes and drawbacks
Carla Konta

The extended US Cultural Exchange Program with Yugoslavia stemmed from the USIA 1962–63 Country Plan, oriented towards a bolder leaders-centred policy. Such a policy resulted in one of the most extended American cultural exchange agendas with a foreign country, counting, in the mid-1960s, around fifty – both state and private – exchange programs. This chapter shows how the cultural exchange programs proved capable of balancing bilateral relations between the two countries and were pragmatically used as soft-power tools. It examines the US Foreign Leader Program, the Fulbright Program, the Ford Foundation, and the private programs, and their ability to sway Yugoslav leaders towards liberal reform and a pro-Western stance. The chapter explores the negotiations process that led to the establishment of the exchanges as stemming from diplomacy, policymaking, and Yugoslav pragmatic political stances.

in US public diplomacy in socialist Yugoslavia, 1950–70
Humanitarian diplomacy and the cultures of appeasement in Britain
Rebecca Gill

This chapter examines one year, 1938, in the history of the British Red Cross (BRCS): a year that was not one of its most obviously eventful. Indeed, with devastating conflict raging in Europe, the BRCS, like the British Government, was notable for its non-intervention in Spain. Yet it did play a part in the high drama of European politics, advocating for international protocols on civilian protection in war, and acting as broker and facilitator between movements for civil defence and (territorial) military planning and Government departments at a time when the shadow of European war loomed large. Using the case study of the Red Cross International Conference held in London in June 1938, the local and national history of the BRCS is explored better to understand its relative state of non-intervention in the Spanish war, and how this related to the discourse on civilian protection and civil defence at home. How much the BRCS focused on these national priorities at a time of international crisis is a focal point of this chapter, which explores the broader question of how the Movement as a whole operated and avoided segmentation at this critical political juncture in the final years of peace.

in The Red Cross Movement
The British Red Cross and the Spanish refugees of 1939
Kerrie Holloway

In late January 1939, almost 500,000 Spanish Republican refugees fled into France after the fall of Catalonia to the Nationalists. Once in France, the refugees were indiscriminately placed in concentration camps on Mediterranean beaches. Surrounded by barbed wire and lacking shelter, many refugees felt their plight was directly caused by the Non-Intervention Agreement signed by their current host, France, and its ally Britain. While France was obligated to deal with the Spanish on its own soil, many expected Britain to do something to support the situation it had helped create. Thus, the British Red Cross received a £50,000 grant from the British Government to aid the work of the French Government in the camps – a paltry sum significantly hampered by both insufficiency and inefficiency. This case study highlights the close relationship that exists between national governments and national Red Cross societies and argues that, in the Spanish Civil War, the biased ‘neutrality’ of the British Government, through the Non-Intervention Agreement, directly influenced the actions and attitudes of the British Red Cross. It further investigates how the British Red Cross’s work during the Spanish Civil War reveals the priorities and prejudices of the British Government during the late 1930s.

in The Red Cross Movement
The New Zealand Red Cross and the international Red Cross Movement
Margaret Tennant

During the twentieth century, the New Zealand Red Cross was one of the most distant national societies from the headquarters of the International Committee of the Red Cross and the League of Red Cross Societies. Its engagement with them was shaped by its own complicated beginnings, and by both intersecting relationships with the British Red Cross and the challenges imposed by distance. The chapter examines the points of contact between this particular national society and the Movement; whether they were independently sustained or mediated through government actions or the influence of larger societies such as the British Red Cross; and how they changed over time. It is a study of a national society looking outwards, but also of the ways that the Movement’s lofty principles were understood and played out internally, often becoming submerged in the sheer ‘busyness’ of local Red Cross activity within New Zealand. The growing sense of New Zealand’s distinctive contribution to the Movement from the 1960s is examined in relation to the work of its overseas delegates and representatives, and to Red Cross activities in the Asia-Pacific region. A broader question interrogated here is what it means to ‘be Red Cross’ in a particular national context.

in The Red Cross Movement
The United States Sanitary Commission and the development of the Red Cross Movement, 1861–1871
James Crossland

In 1861, President Lincoln authorised the creation of the United States Sanitary Commission (USSC) – a body comprising humanitarian volunteers whose purpose was to complement the work of the Union’s Medical Bureau by sourcing supplies, inspecting hospitals and providing general succour to wounded soldiers. Two years later, when news of the first Geneva Conference reached the ears of the USSC’s leaders, they naturally assumed that the Committee of Five had been inspired by the American example to pursue its aims. Historians of the USSC have repeated these claims, despite the comprehensive rejection of the idea of an American origin for the Red Cross Movement by several leading Red Cross scholars. This paper will re-examine the issue of American influence on the Red Cross Movement by turning away from the idea that the USSC inspired the Geneva Convention. Instead, the focus here will be on how the performance of the USSC captured the imaginations of the first Red Cross volunteers, and contributed to the fundamental reshaping of the Committee of Five’s conception of the Red Cross by the dawn of the twentieth century.

in The Red Cross Movement
Neville Wylie

This chapter explores the way in which the British Red Cross Society responded to the crisis that affected the flow of relief parcels to British prisoners of war in Germany after the summer of 1940. It argues that the Society was slow to adjust to total war conditions. It was ill equipped to deal with the intensity of public criticism, and found itself outmanoeuvred by a Government that was intent on evading its responsibility for the crisis. It was also slow in identifying ways out of the crisis, or in forging close working relations with the non-anglophone elements of the Red Cross Movement, notably the International Committee of the Red Cross and neutral national Red Cross societies.

in The Red Cross Movement
Finding a role after the Second World War
Rosemary Cresswell

In 1974 the British Red Cross (BRCS) conducted an ‘Attitude Survey’, the analysis of which concluded that the public knew much more about the organisation’s wartime than peacetime activities, and that the number of younger members was in decline. Three decades earlier, the BRCS had faced a crisis in identity, leading to the repositioning of the charity at a time of tremendous political, social and economic change, including much more emphasis on international humanitarian aid. Indeed, in 1947 the BRCS’s Public Relations Department stated that the public needed to know that the ‘British Red Cross still exists’. To what extent did the end of the Second World War and the launch of the National Health Service in 1948 affect policy, philanthropy, volunteerism and public perceptions of the charity? Drawing on the wider historiography on postwar humanitarianism, the Welfare State and voluntarism, this chapter analyses the way in which the BRCS adapted, and co-operated with State services and other charities between 1946 and 1974.

in The Red Cross Movement
Davide Rodogno

This chapter offers a reflection on two features of modern/contemporary western humanitarianism: arrogance and compassion. The objective of the chapter is to put forward and historicise arrogance, offering an ad hoc – usable – definition, and to do the same with compassion. The chapter engages with the historiography of this increasingly densely populated field, offering reflections on the state of humanitarian history both within and without this edited collection.

in The Red Cross Movement