Harvard/International Seminar

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Group.png Harvard/International Seminar
(Deep state recruitment network)Rdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
Harvard International Seminar 1962 and JFK.jpg
Attendees of the Harvard International Seminar and President JFK on the White House lawn.
Founder• William Elliott
• Henry Kissinger
HeadquartersHarvard University
InterestsCongress for Cultural Freedom
Sponsored byFairfield Foundation
SubpageHarvard/International Seminar/1952
Harvard/International Seminar/1953
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deep state recruitment network led by Henry Kissinger in the 1950s and 1960s

The Harvard International Seminar was a deep state recruitment network established William Yandell Elliott, dean of the Harvard Summer School. The six weeks fully paid course was directed for two decades by his student and protégé Henry Kissinger.

From the start, Kissinger gave the participants a mix of red carpet access to prominent people and intense study groups. By using the technique of seemingly being cynically frank about the bad points of American life, making the participants feel select by avoiding facile propaganda, the course had as its purpose to make future intellectual and political world leaders - whose later careers were followed with interest - strongly identify with the American viewpoint.


A document by William Yandell Elliott discussed the desired traits the future leaders. He recommended younger participants, who have "greater plasticity", but "whose influence would take longer to make itself felt". [1]

Only 40 of the over 500 applicants were accepted, approximately half were from the field of the humanities and half in politics and economics.[2] Many of them went on to high positions in the intellectual arena, often associated with CIA-sponsored efforts like the Congress for Cultural Freedom, or as prominent journalists and editors.

Dr. Benjamin Brown, acting director in 1969, described the seminar's purpose as follows:

Our main goal is give a group of leading young people an opportunity to gain insight into the American way of life. The seminar also affords them an opportunity to compare the problems and conditions of their own countries with those in the United States and the countries of their colleagues. A third objective is to establish better understanding among a select group of people who will be in top leadership roles in their countries in the years ahead....The entire six week period is a very intense experience. By the end of the summer the members have formed a very cohesive body...And although the seminar is short, we have found over the years that the participants generally tend to stay in touch with each other". [3]


All expenses of the participants, including round trip transportation to Harvard, were assumed by the Seminar, a significant commitment in the relatively poor 1950s. The cost was met by foundation grants and private contributions.[4] The funding came from at least 3 CIA cutouts, including The Asia Foundation, The Fairfield Foundation, and The American Friend’s of the Middle East.

The actual seminars were held three days a week, where the participants "discuss their readings or presentations as a manifestation of American life and compare them wit their own experiences". The other days are taken up by group field trips to industry, trade union headquarters, settlement neighborhoods, prisons or other characteristic American institutions.

The academic days also often include informal talks with guest speakers, some of them very prominent American intellectuals. In 1968, some of the speakers were Averell Harriman, sociologist David Riesman, Far Eastern expert Edwin Reischauer and M.I.T. Linguistics professor Noam Chomsky. [5]

Letter to Allan Dulles

In a 1952 letter to CIA director Allen Dulles, Kissinger outlined the strategy behind it. Discussing the "incomplete use of cover organisations" and that "many individuals quite ready to accept private support would balk at governmental influence", Kissinger wrote that "My experience with the Harvard International Seminar supports this. Many of our key people, including a number invaluable for intelligence projects, have told me flatly that they would have refused to come [to the seminar] under government auspices."[6]

The basic tasks of psychological strategy can therefore be stated as follows:

a) The discovery of individuals who can provide basic political, psychological and economic data and function as nuclei for larger groups.

b) The development of organizations to provide the nucleus for long-range strategic intelligence planning in negating fifth-column activities, in penetrating the Iron Curtain in certain key countries end above all, in creating the psychological climate for a bolder, more integrated policy. The primary function of these organizations should be medium and long-range. They should therefore not be used for short range intelligence objectives. Many can serve a very useful purpose by functioning as *sleeper" groups and be kept in existence until needed.

c) The impact of these groups will be proportional to their spontaneity. Since the propaganda charge of US "imperialism" in one of the most effective in the Communist arsenal, evidence of US support should he kept to a minimum. Wherever possible this support should be dispensed under "private" auspices. Even the most deeply motivated individual may balk at acceptance of support from a foreign government. This raises as a crucial problem the development of a private *"cover".

d) Organisations of an essentially political nature should not be used for other purposes, such as *stay-behind" organizations. The attempt to combine incommensurable purposes results in a diffusion of effort and a watering down of all activity. It multiplies the danger of penetration and the rink of compromise: to discover the esupport of one organization is to destroy the usefulness of both.[7]

Further effects

A similar grooming effort, the Georgetown Leadership Seminar, was founded in 1982.

Hannes Androsch, participant 1969, went on to found the Austrian deep state milieu Club 45


Related Quotation

Document:1968 Bissell Meeting“There is no doubt that some covertly funded programs could be undertaken overtly, Mr. Bissell thought. Often activities have been initiated through CIA channels because they could be started more quickly and informally but do not inherently need to be secret. An example might be certain exchange of persons programs designed to identify potential political leaders and give them some exposure to the United States. It should be noted, however, that many such innocent programs are more effective if carried out by private auspices than if supported officially by the United States government. They do not need to be covert but if legitimate private entities such as the foundations do not initiate them, there may be no way to get them done except by covert support to "front" organizations.”


Fairfield FoundationA now defunct CIA front that acted as a philanthropic foundation
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