Champions of Compassion: The American Council of Voluntary Agencies for Foreign Service and Cold War-Era U.S. Foreign Policy

In the context of the Cold War, writes Joshua Mather, policymakers proved eager to enlist voluntary agencies (and their supporters) in initiatives that enhanced the United States’ image abroad and showcased the altruism nurtured by a democratic, capitalist society. Fully aware of the global struggle for hearts and minds, American Council of Voluntary Agencies for Foreign Service, Inc. leaders touted state-private humanitarianism’s value for U.S. foreign policy. By portraying Americans as deeply attuned to the needs of ordinary foreigners, and voluntary agencies as the collective embodiment of this concern, ACVAFS hoped to score a public diplomacy victory for the United States. Continue reading