Thursday, August 14, 2008

Exiled Agitprop

There's a very good bit on exiled online about how the Georgians are doing a very, very good job of exploiting the CNN effect.

One of the weird things about this conflict is how divided perceptions on it are. Russians see it as straight-up peacekeeping, whereas the West sees it as clear Russian aggression. Part of that is because of nationalism, of course, but a lot more is because Saakashvili has managed to sway the western media very, very skillfully. Case in point:

Psychological Operations

DoD definition: Psychological Operations (PSYOPs) are focused on the cognitive domain of the battlespace. PSYOP seeks to induce, influence, or reinforce the perceptions, attitudes, reasoning, and behavior of foreign leaders, groups, and organizations in a manner favorable to friendly national and military objectives. PSYOP is just another way to say that P word no one likes to use anymore, propaganda.

Analysis: This here is a no brainer. Georgia has dominated the psychological playing field from the beginning. As Mark Ames discovered, Georgian leaders were making collect calls to just about every influential person on Wall Street, convincing them that Georgia was the victim of Russian aggression even as Georgian rockets were leveling Tskhinvali. And that was before Russia officially entered into the fray. Saakashvili then made himself available for round-the-clock CNN and BBC interviews. He repeated the same simple lines in near-perfect English, and always flanked by an EU flag: “Russia is an aggressor. We are a small democratic country. Please help us.” Georgia was putting the “CNN effect,” as the military types like to call it, to extremely good use. The pro-Georgian CNN effect was so strong, in fact, that CNN used footage of Tskhinvali for a report on the destruction in the Georgian town of Gori. Check it out:

All the Russians did was call an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council to try to pass a resolution demanding that Georgia and the S. Ossetia lay down their arms. It wasn’t much of a psychological operation, one that the U.S. didn’t even back.

Psychological Operations Grade: Georgia: A+, Russia: F+

Can't disagree with this. They know how to play the game. They know how to manipulate the media's perceptions. They know who to call, and what to say. They know their talking points, and how to adjust them to shape facts on the ground.

If anything, this certainly gives credence to the assertion I've read in several places that Saakashviki is intimately tied with the neocons. He's just like them: hasn't the faintest idea how to conduct a field operation, but hot DAMN does he know how to spin it.

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