In the aftermath of the Yugoslav rupture with the Soviets in 1948, the Eisenhower administration conceived the “wedge strategy” in order to “keep Tito afloat”. Whilst supporting Yugoslav independence, its main goal was to instigate instability in the Soviet bloc and tie the Yugoslav regime and its political, economic and military institutions to the United States. Since the early 1950s, the Yugoslav-U.S. partnership reinforced the Yugoslav turn to the West. Regarded as a side effect of its neutralist policies and a prerequisite for the industrial modernization of the country, the Yugoslav renewed cooperation with the American partners has been mainly studied in its economic and political implications. By trying to fill previous historiographical gaps, this research explores how the U.S. administration used Yugoslav openness to foreign countries in order to establish an extensive network of soft power channels implemented by public diplomacy agencies and agents such as the United States Information Agency (USIA), the posts of the United States Information Service (USIS) and the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Here it is shown that, in the context of the cultural Cold War between the two opposed blocs, the USIS cultural centers, the American pavilions at fairs in Zagreb and Belgrade, the broadcasts of the Voice of America, the tours of classical, jazz and rock musicians and theater groups funded by the State Department, and the overwhelming program of fifty cultural exchanges, acted as a magnet for Yugoslav academic, intellectual, artistic and political leadership and conveyed messages on democracy, freedom, modern technical knowledge and economic prosperity. Based on a comparison between American and Yugoslav archival sources, this research has revealed the negotiations, acceptance and rejection processes of these cultural practices, thus providing new insights on the porosity of the border between freedom and coercion, between what was permitted and what was implicitly forbidden in Tito’s communist regime. According to the analyzed data, the research shows that the U.S. soft power has had, in the context of the regime’s liberalization trends in the sixties as well as for internal dissidence movements, the role of an external input for reforms inspired by federalist decentralization, participatory democracy and market economy. Moreover, the penetration into the Yugoslav middle and lower leadership and the creation of networks, contacts and cooperation with numerous intellectuals, academics and artists, strengthened pro-American and Western tendencies both at executive level and in the public opinion. Finally, the fluctuation of the communist leadership – at the federal, republican and local level – between positive receptions and acts of coercion of the American public diplomacy agents and agencies revealed the arbitrariness of the margins of freedom and coercion in the Titoist regime and the unsustainability of Yugoslav “polyarchy” whose “experiment” would result, in the long run, in a failure.

Waging Public Diplomacy: The United States and the Yugoslav Experiment (1950-1972)

KONTA, CARLA
2016-04-28

Abstract

In the aftermath of the Yugoslav rupture with the Soviets in 1948, the Eisenhower administration conceived the “wedge strategy” in order to “keep Tito afloat”. Whilst supporting Yugoslav independence, its main goal was to instigate instability in the Soviet bloc and tie the Yugoslav regime and its political, economic and military institutions to the United States. Since the early 1950s, the Yugoslav-U.S. partnership reinforced the Yugoslav turn to the West. Regarded as a side effect of its neutralist policies and a prerequisite for the industrial modernization of the country, the Yugoslav renewed cooperation with the American partners has been mainly studied in its economic and political implications. By trying to fill previous historiographical gaps, this research explores how the U.S. administration used Yugoslav openness to foreign countries in order to establish an extensive network of soft power channels implemented by public diplomacy agencies and agents such as the United States Information Agency (USIA), the posts of the United States Information Service (USIS) and the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Here it is shown that, in the context of the cultural Cold War between the two opposed blocs, the USIS cultural centers, the American pavilions at fairs in Zagreb and Belgrade, the broadcasts of the Voice of America, the tours of classical, jazz and rock musicians and theater groups funded by the State Department, and the overwhelming program of fifty cultural exchanges, acted as a magnet for Yugoslav academic, intellectual, artistic and political leadership and conveyed messages on democracy, freedom, modern technical knowledge and economic prosperity. Based on a comparison between American and Yugoslav archival sources, this research has revealed the negotiations, acceptance and rejection processes of these cultural practices, thus providing new insights on the porosity of the border between freedom and coercion, between what was permitted and what was implicitly forbidden in Tito’s communist regime. According to the analyzed data, the research shows that the U.S. soft power has had, in the context of the regime’s liberalization trends in the sixties as well as for internal dissidence movements, the role of an external input for reforms inspired by federalist decentralization, participatory democracy and market economy. Moreover, the penetration into the Yugoslav middle and lower leadership and the creation of networks, contacts and cooperation with numerous intellectuals, academics and artists, strengthened pro-American and Western tendencies both at executive level and in the public opinion. Finally, the fluctuation of the communist leadership – at the federal, republican and local level – between positive receptions and acts of coercion of the American public diplomacy agents and agencies revealed the arbitrariness of the margins of freedom and coercion in the Titoist regime and the unsustainability of Yugoslav “polyarchy” whose “experiment” would result, in the long run, in a failure.
DOGO, MARCO
VEZZOSI, ELISABETTA
27
2013/2014
Settore M-STO/02 - Storia Moderna
Università degli Studi di Trieste
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11368/2908046
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