Today, the U.S. government undertakes a variety of communications techniques designed to influence target audiences. From strategic communication and public diplomacy to MISO (psychological operations), these techniques serve as fundamental tools intended to increase to increase America’s ability to achieve its foreign policy objectives.
Many people pejoratively use the word “propaganda” to describe a wide array of government communications techniques. However, propaganda should not necessarily be dismissed as being manipulative or dishonest without a thorough analysis of its content.
This fact sheet briefly presents the definitional, institutional, and legislative history of propaganda as it relates to public diplomacy and the U.S. Government. It does not purport to place a moral judgement on its use. While not an exhaustive analysis, it is intended to familiarize readers with a useful overview of this issue, and provide a basis from which the reader can analyze communication they may refer to as “propaganda.”