Plus: Boss Tweed's lesson for the Trump trials |

  

By Made by History / Produced by Olivia B. Waxman

It took months of acrimonious debate for the U.S. Congress to pass a bill with military and humanitarian aid for Ukraine, Taiwan, and Israel. But as Kaete O’Connell explains in Made by History, history suggests that it didn’t have to be such a struggle. Policymakers today are failing to learn the crucial lesson from one of the most successful humanitarian efforts in American history: the Berlin Airlift, which successfully ended the Soviet blockade of West Berlin 75 years ago this month. 

While the Airlift represented a masterful logistical undertaking by the Air Force, it was only possible because of a massive publicity blitz in the U.S., which explained to Americans why it was necessary and beneficial for the U.S. Through efforts ranging from Hollywood films to donation centers, American officials overcame war weariness and public reluctance to help a former enemy. This enabled the U.S. to help bring West Germany into an American-led world order, and painted the U.S. as a benevolent superpower. It was a win-win. Today, a similar publicity effort is necessary, O’Connell argues, to sell the need for increasing aid around the globe. The U.S. is best positioned to deliver such help, and it could pay crucial dividends—but only if policymakers explain to Americans why it’s necessary.

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Arthur Shay
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PHOTOGRAPH BY ANDREW B. MYERS FOR TIME; STYLING BY JOELLE LITT
The May 20, 2013, cover of TIME

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