Thursday, 2 April 2009

'Radio Cold War'

I recently went to a talk by Dr Jeffrey Godmin. Dr Jeffrey Godmin is the president of Radio Liberty. Radio Liberty was set up in the 1950's, during the Cold war. The original purpose of the organisation was to preach Democracy to the citizens of the Soviet Union.

Originally it's aims were quite noble, despite the fact that it was originally backed by the CIA. For a long time they did indeed do some good broadcasts and some Russians would listen to it their point of view.

However, after the end of the Cold War, it should have 'shut up shop', or focused it's attention on the democratic abuses by American client states such as Pakistan or Iraq. Instead it has continued with it's 'Cold War' mentality, positioning Russia as the great enemy and destroyer of freedom.

The lecture and questions focussed mainly on the lack of freedom in Russia. References were made about how the situation in Russia becoming really bad.

It seems to me that people like Dr Jeffey Godmin would like to go back to the 1990's, when the media was not free but was a puppet of oligarchs such as Vladimir Gusinsky and Boris Berezovsky. Oligarchs who used the media for their own personal aims, for destroying their enemies and making themselves rich at the expense of the Russian people.

The whole talk made me feel as if I had been transported back to the Cold War: Radio Liberty's PR spin: is that Russia was bad, America was great!?

However, the truth of the matter is that Radio Liberty has not only lost it's relevance, it has lost it's audience, the public ex Soviet Union are no longer interested in their broadcasts. Why are they not interested?
(1) Firstly they have the liberty to freely put forward their point of view.
(2) The systems that Radio Liberty preached created chaos in Russia, with 'robber barons' robbing the country, American bankers becoming rich on Russian assets and the mafia ruling the streets.

So these days Radio Liberty has no purpose. Perhaps it should re-branded itself as 'Radio Cold War' and try and get itself a home in a dusty old museum, one where it could share it's home with red flags and other out-of-date Cold War objects.

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