The Foreign Service Journal, June 2022

44 JUNE 2022 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL Established in 1942, the OWI popularized a global vision for the war effort— underscoring the importance of public diplomacy for U.S. national security today. BY N I CHOLAS J . CUL L Office of War Information StillMatters FS HERITAGE Nicholas J. Cull is professor of public diplomacy at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. He is a historian of public diplomacy, and his works include The Cold War and the United States Information Agency: American Propaganda and Public Diplomacy , 1945-1989 (Cambridge, 2008). E ighty years ago, in 1942, in the wake of the attack on Pearl Harbor, the United States government launched a new federal agency to oversee wartime communication work at home and abroad. The Office of War Information became an essential element of America’s domestic war effort in World War II, shaping a swathe of Hollywood films, mounting radio broadcasts and design- ing posters that remain in the collective imagination (think of Norman Rockwell’s groaning Thanksgiving table to illustrate “Freedom fromWant”). Fully 80 percent of OWI’s budget was devoted to its inter- national work, and in this respect, this predecessor to the U.S. Information Agency marked a milestone in U.S. statecraft. Despite the evolution of communication technologies in the Why the