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"We Are The Hard Edge of Soft Power"

(Washington, DC -- April 10, 2008) In a speech at the Heritage Foundation, RFE/RL President Jeffrey Gedmin said his organization's broadcasts to 21 countries in 28 languages represent the belief that free speech and an independent press are the essential components of a healthy civil society.

"The free flow of information and ideas is the oxygen that sustains free societies," said Gedmin. "Our journalists, at great risk to themselves, report in countries where democratic institutions are fragile, such as Ukraine and Georgia, or more difficult places such as Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan. They bring objective news and information to people who need it."

Joining Gedmin at the podium was Kim Holmes, Heritage's Vice President of Foreign and Defense Policy Studies and Director of The Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies.

By highlighting RFE/RL's successes and noting that the organization's annual budget is about $80 million, Gedmin challenged the audience to imagine how much more could be done with more money: "If you think about the challenges that confront America -- from al-Qaeda and their affiliate jihadists, to Iran and the post-Cold War authoritarian regimes in Eastern Europe and Asia -- international broadcasting, which I call the 'hard edge of soft power,' represents a tremendous bang for the buck in terms of fighting the war of ideas. We're out there on the front lines, speaking directly to the world, working to bring them free, uncensored news and information."

A transcript of Gedmin's speech can be found on The Heritage Foundation's website; click here to access streaming audio and video of Gedmin's presentation from the Heritage Foundation website.