Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Russian propaganda vs. truth: a lesson in technique

As an excellent example of a standard Soviet/Russian disinformation campaign, the state-owned RIA Novosti published an article claiming that it was the Georgians who had planned the war a year ago. This is a standard technique to counter criticism of your own misdeeds: manufacture some evidence claiming the same thing of your enemy. It doesn't need to be very credible, but it's enough to create the illusion that the region and conflict are too complicated for you to possibly be able to sort out.

In this case, the disinformation campaign seeks to discredit media reports (such as these two I blogged about earlier) that claim that Russia had every intention of attacking since at least the beginning of the year, and that the Georgian occupation of South Ossetia was just a pretext. The Russia disinformation – that the Georgians were the ones who'd planned the war – is not nearly as credible as the non-propaganda versions, as it's based on information from within the Russian government. The one verified piece of evidence it uses is to mention NATO exercises in the region that were planned a year ago, claiming that this indicates that the war was planned a year ago. This doesn't logically follow since there was no NATO involvement in the war, and Georgians in fact feel that NATO betrayed them. It seems unlike that a war that NATO – with about two-thirds of global military spending – had planned for a year would go so horribly wrong.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

So main reason provided in here is the one, saying tt nato would not plan wrong operations. By the moment, however most of the people have already understood tt nato is usued to do so (Afganistan, Iraq). And the subject war was not at all operation of nato, but nato (namely US) had done a lot to provide Georgians with weapons and to encourage them for the war. So it seams tt Russian forces were ready to the attack only because they knew about US activity in Georgia

Anonymous said...

“Georgian occupation of South Ossetia was just a pretext” - only some pretext!
no worth mentioning any death of civilians in Ossetia, all facts to think about is just to think what is pretext for!

Raționalitate said...

1. "tt" is not an abbreviation for "that"
2. When NATO wants a war, NATO gets a war, and NATO wins a war. This one was a rout – nobody came to the Georgians' aid. The Georgian military didn't even try. Saakashvili probably thought that the worst case scenario was that the Russians would kick him out of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, but not that they would invade half of undisputed Georgia.
3. The death of civilians in South Ossetia seems to be a myth, with only a handful of confirmed dead, many of whom appeared to be militants rather than civilians.

Anonymous said...

I do not agree that grammar issues should be put in here under No 1.
No reasons to dispute regarding exact quantity of deads, we do not have evidence HRW has no prejudice. So I consider useless to provide links to contrary information, as this all just the information war. However exactly what I know is that evacuation of civilians from Tskhinval started before Georgian attack, was suspended during occupation, then continued when Georgians left. That means that there were lots of civilians in the city. Despite the fact that Russian forces were moving towards the region, they arrived much later. So Georgians attacked civilians, not army forces.
Any way, why do you think that exact number of killed civilians matters? What for to attack the city? Why do you find surprising that Russians go further and crushed military targets inside the Georgia, while Georgian militarism seamed to be the cause of the war?

Anonymous said...

I would tell you one more interesting thing:
fyi my residence in about 1000 km from the conflict. So I keep my eye on the situation with Georgia for a long time, and I would tell you that some two years ago it was clear for me that there will be a war. It was clear from Saakashvili agenda, it was clear from US official position. There is nothing surprising in the fact that Russian officials has been prepared to the war. Therefore the question is: what forced Saakashvili to attack first. If you think that Russia has orchestrated all these, explain by what means Russians were able to arrange for the first attack, taking into account that Saakashvili is so close with US. Must Saakashvili be responsible for the first attack or not?

Raționalitate said...

1. Sorry about snarky comment about the grammar...definitely not nice to pick on people whose native language isn't English.
2. HRW is a pretty neutral organization. They're accused of nearly every bias you can possibly have, which hints at them being unbiased.
3. While all loss of life is a tragedy, you have to wonder why the Russian government would exaggerate (by a factor of at least ten) the count. Makes it look like they're up to no good.
4. There was no reason to invade Georgia proper. Under normal military circumstances – two approximately equally-matched armies – there would have been, of course, but given that the Georgians were fleeing and showed no signs of putting up a fight after the Russians started attacking into Georgia proper, it seems unlikely that the Russians actually feared the Georgians enough that they needed to destroy their war-making capacity (what little of it they actually had).
5. It's pretty short-sighted to place the Georgian invasion of South Ossetia at the beginning of the conflict. This Wikipedia article gives a pretty good rundown of all the other actions that led to the war, and when you read it, you get the distinct feeling that Russia was trying to coax Georgia into attacking South Ossetia.
6. I've said it before and I'll say it again – if NATO were actually preparing Saakashvili for a war, they failed miserably. And if they really wanted a war so badly, why wouldn't they have accepted Georgia into NATO earlier this year? Then they would have had a contractual obligation to fight alongside the Georgians.

Anonymous said...

Re HRW:
NGO lives on donations, main part of donations provided by few single wealthy persons, normally involved in politics, only little donations provided by lots of neutral public. NGO can be as neutral, as it's source of money, which in its turn, is unlikely to be so.
As per wikipedia article Georgia seams also contributing to conflict progress