Winning and Losing
There’s a very interesting post at the Russia Foreign Policy blog that suggests a somewhat divergent view of the (I guess) still ongoing Russia-Georgia conflict—that Russia won a military victory but has lost the public relations battle:
So is it any wonder that, despite the fact that, as Mikhail Gorbachev writes in the Washington Post, that Georgian leaders badly miscalculated when “they could get away with a “blitzkrieg” in South Ossetia”, no matter how much “the quick and easy victory exposes the west’s lack of leverage over a resurgent Russia despite years of heavy American political investment in Georgia”, the war will have been a military victory for Russia, but a PR defeat.
In fact, so successful has been Saakashvili’s wooing of the Western media that, according to Mark Ames,
No one’s bothering to ask what the Ossetians themselves think about it, or why they’re fighting for their independence in the first place. That’s because the Georgians—with help from lobbyists like Scheunemann—have been pushing the line that South Ossetia is a fiction, a construct of evil Kremlin neo-Stalinists, rather than a people with a genuine grievance.
In an article headlined “Russia has Lost the War”, the online daily Gazeta ru reaches very similar conclusions, after an analysis of Russian, Georgian and Western press treatment of the conflic.t It suggests that another reason for Western press’s favourable treatment of Georgia was the relatively greater access and support it gave to foreign journalists, where Russia’s propaganda effort focused much more heavily on its own media.
Modern conflicts are fought in the ‘courtroom of public opinion’, as Adlai Stevenson said at the UN during the Cuban Missile Crisis. It’s time for Russia to get media-savvy.