BBG Watch Commentary

Dr. Leon Aron
Dr. Leon Aron

President Barack Obama announced his intent to nominate Dr. Leon Aron as a member of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), the federal board and federal agency in charge of U.S. international media outreach. His knowledge of Russia and the surrounding regions, as well as his fluency in Russian, will bring much needed experience to the BBG if his nomination is confirmed by the U.S. Senate, which is usually a routine procedure.

Dr. Aron will be able to easily evaluate Russian-language program content as well as English-language news reporting on Russia by the Voice of America (VOA), which is a federal entity under the BBG, as well as programs by Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), a non-federal U.S. taxpayer-funded media entity which is also overseen by the BBG.

Former Voice of America Russian Service journalists and managers gave BBG Watch glowing reviews of Dr. Aron’s nomination based on his knowledge of Russian politics, his analytical skills, and his personality. He was a weekly contributor at the Voice of America’s Russian language radio and television show Gliadya iz Ameriki (Looking from America) from 1990 to 2004.

“I liked him and respected his opinions,” a former Voice of America Russian Service director told BBG Watch.

BBG Watch extends its congratulations to Dr. Aron on his nomination to serve on the BBG board.

roadstothetempleHe is the author of the first full-scale scholarly biography of Boris Yeltsin, Yeltsin: A Revolutionary Life (St. Martin’s Press, 2000); Russia’s Revolution: Essays 1989-2006 (AEI Press, 2007); and, most recently, Roads to the Temple: Memory, Truth, Ideas and Ideals in the Making of the Russian Revolution, 1987-1991 (Yale University Press, 2012).

The White House announcement had the following bio for Dr. Aron:

Dr. Leon Aron, Nominee for Member, Broadcasting Board of Governors
Dr. Leon Aron is Resident Scholar and Director of Russian Studies at the American Enterprise Institute, a position he has held since 1993. He was a weekly Contributor at the Voice of America’s Russian language radio and television show Gliadya iz Ameriki (Looking from America) from 1990 to 2004. Dr. Aron was previously an Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University from 1994 to 1996 and a Senior Policy Analyst at the Heritage Foundation from 1987 to 1992. He was awarded the Peace Fellowship from the U.S. Institute of Peace from 1992 to 1993. Dr. Aron received a B.A. from Moscow State Pedagogical Institute and an M.A. and a Ph.D. from Columbia University.

Link to Dr. Aron’s bio on the American Enterprise Institute website.

Dr. Aron’s comments on Russia’s foreign, domestic and economic policies can be viewed through some of his recent Tweets and a video from the National Endowment for Democracy (NED).

The NED discussion video shows Dr. Aron’s excellent analysis of Vladimir Putin’s decision to forego systemic and economic reforms and to choose the path to keeping himself in power through censorship at home and military interventions abroad. But, as Dr. Aron pointed out, this dangerous and economically disastrous path, which has been taken before by such dictators as Saddam Hussein and Hosni Mubarak, can only end in a violent overthrow of the regime.