The “Operational Code” of Senator Fulbright and International Education: Belief Systems, National Missions, Political Contexts

Kurt Tweraser


The article makes explicit the foreign affairs belief system of Senator Fulbright, establishes the role of international education in his belief system, and analyzes the genesis and development of the Fulbright Exchange Program in the constraining context of American governmental and political culture. The theoretical framework is the “operational code” construct developed by political scientist Alexander George who suggested that decision makers operate on the basis of distinctive belief systems that bear directly on their assessments and behaviors. Throughout his career Fulbright stuck to his basic beliefs that conflict in international politics was only temporary, that there was a latent harmony of interests, that the dominating sources of conflict were either the anarchical international system (1943–1946), or warlike states (1946–1965), or that conflict lay in man‘s nature (1965 on). In all three periods he staunchly maintained that international education was a potent means for slowly transforming the nature of the political universe. Fulbright‘s “operational code” stands undoubtedly in sharp contrast to traditional realist decision makers.


“Operational Code”, Fulbright, International Education


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