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A Public Service Message from the American Income Life Insurance CompanyExecutive offices, Waco, TexasBernard Rapoport, Pres. their legitimate needs and their prescribed roles within the process of government. One ominously influential arm of the Defense Department is its military public relations apparatus, which today is selling the administration’s Southeast Asian policy, just as it sold the Vietnam policy of the previous administration, with increasing emphasis on patriotic militarism and activity directed against its critics. The enthusiasm and dedication of the purveyors of the hard military line are such that their present course could easily be modified in order to encourage the removal of those in the Congress who question actions of the Executive branch and the growth of military influence. Considering the normal skepticism of the American citizen, such overt political activity by the military would seem to have small chance of success. But I raise the point, nevertheless; the apparatus exists, and we of the Congress, in another context, have been put on notice that legitimate and even constitutionally required questioning is viewed by some individuals as interference with Executive prerogatives. It is interesting to compare the American government’s only official propaganda organization, the U.S. Information Agency, with the Defense Department’s apparatus. The USIA is so circumscribed by Congress that it cannot, with the rarest of exceptions, distribute its materials within this country. Since much USIA output is composed of a filtered view of the United States and its policies, such a prohibition is eminently sensible. But the Department of Defense, with more than twice as many people engaged in public relations as the USIA has in all of its posts abroad, operates to distribute its propaganda within this country without control other than that of the Executive branch, and it floods the domestic scene with its special, narrow view of the military establishment and its role in the world. Of course, the military needs an information program. But it should be one designed to inform, not promote or possibly deceive. There is no need for production of self-promotional films for public consumption. There is no need to fly private citizens about the country to demonstrate to the public our military might. There is no need to send speakers at taxpayers’ expense anywhere from Pensacola, Florida, to Portland, Qregon, to address luncheon clubs and veterans organizations. There is no need to set up expensive and elaborate exhibits at state and county fairs. There is no need to take VIPs on pleasant cruises to Hawaii aboard aircraft carriers. There surely is no need for military production of television shows for domestic, commercial use showing “feature” aspects of the Southeast Asian war. WHAT CAN be done about the situation? An obvious answer comes at once to mind: legislation that would again set a ceiling on Defense Department public relations spending. It didn’t work before, but perhaps this time it might be possible to require the Defense Department to report on a regular basis to the Congress and to the public on just what it is doing in the “information” field. Such legislation might also eliminate some of the activities that are far outside the military’s proper role in our society =-\\ such as the “V-Series” films from Southeast Asia and the “educational” programs of the Industrial College of the Armed Forces. It also might require the State Department to enforce strict clearance of films, speeches, and other material involving foreign policy. The passage of such legislation would be desirable, but only as a step toward limiting the other activities in which the Pentagon is engaged far beyond the true mission assigned to it that of physically protecting this country. THE REAL solution to militarism, of course, is rigourous civilian including Congressional control of the now largely uncontrolled military establishment. The growth of military influence began in perilous times when an implacable Stalin and world communism constituted a major threat to the noncommunist world recovering from a devastating war. But the growth of real Pentagon political power did not begin until we became increasingly involved in Vietnam seven years ago. Although the Congress these days is looking more coolly at the enormous defense budget than it has in the past, the surgical process of cutting back will be a difficult one and not popular with many members to whose districts the military-industrial establishment has become of great economic importance. It may help if the public starts examining carefully attempts by the military to sell them its point of view. The press, radio, and television might look more critically on the military’s attempts to influence or use them. Not that the media have been remiss in their responsibilities; in fact, frequently the press has been the only source of accurate information about what is going on in Southeast Asia and throughout the world. But there are some who allow themselves to be seduced by the military with free trips and VIP treatment, and even a few who are not much more than trained seals for the Pentagon. Also, there are editors who are not skeptical enough about the material fed to them by the military. Radio and television, as we have seen, are heavy users of the military’s propaganda and public relations output. Perhaps some of their executives should devote more attention to filling their public-service time examining the grave domestic problems besetting the country instead of useing “V-Series” films and the Army’s Big Picture. Nearly ten years ago I made a speech to the National War College and the Industrial College of the Armed Forces in Washington. I said: The effectiveness of our armed services depends upon the maintenance of their unique prestige and integrity. These will remain intact only so long as the services adhere to their tradition of nonpolitical professionalism. No group or institution can participate in political debate without itself becoming an object of partisan attack. It is precisely because of its status as a nonpolitical institution that the military in the past has enjoyed the virtually unanimous support of the American people and has thus been beyond partisan assault … It is my hope that the armed services will never yield to misguided temptations, which can only shatter the high esteem in which they are held. The preservation of that esteem is essential to the success of the armed forces in fulfilling their assigned mission and essential also, therefore, to the defense of the Republic. Since I made that speech in 1961, the military has been dragged into the political arena. President Johnson at one crisis point brought General Westmoreland from Saigon to address a joint session of the Congress, in order to counter critics in the Senate with an honored officer’s explanation as a means of selling administration policy. What troubles me today is that some politicians want to make regular use of the military in such a role, and would be loath to give it up. An indication of the fondness of some in the military for a political Tole is contained in the “Prize Essay 1970” printed’ in the March 1970 issue of U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, a semi-official learned journal on naval affairs published in Annapolis, Maryland. The prize essay, chosen presumably by a group of high-ranking naval officers, is titled “Against All Enemies,” and was written by Capt. Robert J. Hanks, USN, commander of a destroyer squadron who earlier had served in the Pentagon. The theme of his essay is that the military must determine the nature and the extent of external threats to our national security, and must also determine the character of our response to them. Captain Hanks also wrote that there are many individuals in the country who want