Prague Calling

rfe

I saw the link in Prague Daily Monitor this morning, which led me to the International Herald Tribune, which then inspired me to go to Google to see who the hell Dr. Jeffrey Gedmin really was.

I’m a little bit behind the news sometimes. The IHT story is dated 2 Feb and that is also the date that Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty announced that it had named Dr. Jeffrey Gedmin as its new president. According to the IHT:

RFE/RL is a private, nonprofit corporation, which receives funding from the U.S. government. It was established in 1949 to spread pro-Western news and promote democratic values and institutions in countries behind the Iron Curtain.

The station moved its headquarters to Prague from Munich, Germany, in 1995, after communism collapsed here in 1989.

It broadcasts in 28 languages to 20 countries, including Iran and Iraq, since 1998, and Afghanistan, from 2002.

RFE/RL is a controversial institution. Its presence in Prague is controversial, especially since 9/11. RFE/RL is a private corporation and is supposed to be objective in terms of broadcast journalism, but it is funded by the government of The New Amerika and if some of the people inside it don’t have other secret agendas, I’m Marilyn Monroe.

During the Cold War, Radio Free Europe provided a meaningful service to the people on this side of the Iron Curtain. Together with BBC World Service, they were able to deliver a more objective view of world events than the people were getting from their own state news sources. Of course you could be arrested for listening to either RFE or BBC, but at least they were here. Even as recently as 1989, a lot of people first heard about the revolutions in their own countries from these foreign radio stations.

The world has changed. RFE/RL moved from Munich to Prague. RFE/RL no longer broadcasts around these parts, but has instead moved its focus further east. RFE/RL broadcasts to Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan. RFE/RL is allegedly a terrorist target.

Here is an excerpt from the RFE/RL Mission Statement:

Based on the conviction that the first requirement of democracy is a well informed citizenry, and building on nearly a half century of surrogate broadcasting to this region:

1. RFE/RL provides objective news, analysis, and discussion of domestic and regional issues crucial to successful democratic and free-market transformations.

2. RFE/RL strengthens civil societies by projecting democratic values.

3. RFE/RL combats ethnic and religious intolerance and promotes mutual understanding among peoples.

4. RFE/RL provides a model for local media, assists in training to enhance media professionalism and independence, and develops partnerships with local media outlets.

5. RFE/RL fosters closer ties between the countries of the region and the world’s established democracies.

So who is Dr. Jeffrey Gedmin?

According to the IHT article, he has been director of the Aspen Institute in Berlin and executive director of the New Atlantic Initiative.

According to the International Relations Center, Gedmin is a founding member of Project for the New American Century and a Resident Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.

“Gedmin is a European studies scholar active in or supporter of various rightwing outfits, including the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) and the American Enterprise Institute. He contributed a chapter on NATO and Europe for Present Dangers: Crisis and Opportunity in American Foreign and Defense Policy, a PNAC volume edited by Robert Kagan and William Kristol.”

Just to see how much RFE/RL and PNAC have in common, here is an excerpt from the PNAC Statement of Principles:

1. We need to increase defense spending significantly if we are to carry out our global responsibilities today and modernize our armed forces for the future.

2. We need to strengthen our ties to democratic allies and to challenge regimes hostile to our interests and values.

3. We need to promote the cause of political and economic freedom abroad.

4. We need to accept responsibility for America’s unique role in preserving and extending an international order friendly to our security, our prosperity, and our principles.

Here is my comparison between the two statements:

RFE/RL: “combats intolerance, promotes mutual understanding”

PNAC: “our security, our prosperity, our principles”

I am so happy to see that the Broadcasting Board of Governors has chosen someone who will remain committed to continuing the RFE/RL mission. Their choice is a man who has clearly demonstrated true Amerikan selfless altruism and a deep desire to improve the lives of peoples who are less fortunate than we in The New Amerika are.

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