The Foreign Service Journal, December 2011

C ULTURAL D IPLOMACY IN THE C OLD W AR ver 50,000 Russians and other Soviets came to the United States between 1958, when the first U.S.-Soviet cultural agreement was signed, and 1988, when communication became more open and an agreement was no longer needed. They came as students and scholars, scientists and en- gineers, journalists and writers, party and government officials, musicians, dancers and athletes (and more than a few KGB officers). They came, they saw, they were conquered — and the Soviet Union was changed. Though Moscow insisted on having the agreement detail exactly who and what would be exchanged, in what numbers, and who would pay costs, it never spelled out its reasons for participating. Presumably, though, it wanted to gain access to U.S. science and technology; have the Soviet Union seen as equal to the United States; seek cooperation with the U.S.; demonstrate Soviet achievements; ease the pent-up demand of Soviet schol- ars, scientists, performing artists, intellectuals and ath- letes for foreign travel; and earn foreign currency through performances abroad of Soviet performing artists and athletes. U.S. objectives were set forth in a National Security Council directive (NSC 5607): to broaden and deepen re- lations with the Soviet Union by expanding contacts be- tween people and institutions; involve Soviets in joint activities and develop habits of cooperation with the U.S.; end the Soviet Union’s isolation and inward orientation by giving it a broader view of the world and itself; improve U.S. understanding of Soviet society through access to its institutions and people; and obtain the benefits of coop- eration in culture, education, science and technology. Youthful Outreach The cornerstone of the programwas the Graduate Stu- dent/Young Faculty Exchange, which enabled a limited number of scholars from each country to spend an aca- demic year in the other. The agreed number was never higher than 50 a year, but over the next 30 years more than a thousand would take part. They enriched univer- sities in both countries and provided a network of in- formed people who had lived in the other country, spoke its language, and could separate fact from fiction. While there was numerical reciprocity in the numbers of scholars exchanged each year, most Americans were in T HREE DECADES OF U.S.-S OVIET CULTURAL EXCHANGES HELPED PAVE THE WAY FOR THE END OF THE C OLD W AR . B Y Y ALE R ICHMOND Yale Richmond, a retired Foreign Service Officer, is the author of Cultural Exchange and the Cold War: Raising the Iron Curtain (Pennsylvania State University Press, 2003). 42 F O R E I G N S E R V I C E J O U R N A L / D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 1 F OCUS ON THE B REAKUP OF THE S OV I ET U NION