Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Question More?

"Money can't buy you love." That's how the following segment on Russia Today TV starts (it's from several days ago). So, what's the reporter referring to? American public diplomacy in Afghanistan. A pretty interesting report - not that it's not true. What really bugs me, though, is the approach.

As on multiple occasions before, I'll just take a little time to highlight yet another example of RT's fiercely hostile and strongly anti-American tone. It seems like it wants to do its job of promoting Russia's public diplomacy "at the expense" of America's reputation. When will they finally get to realize that credibility, and especially public diplomacy, is not a zero-sum game? And is this how the producers intend to "reach the American public"?!

Here, I'll refer to the reflections of a former Soviet official who worked in the U.S. (sorry, "deep throat"; paraphrased), regarding what he called "influence operations" carried out within the country throughout the Cold War. According to him, the Soviet Union:

- supported various anarchist/pacifist/socialist/"anyone-who-opposes-government" groups, providing them not only financial resources, but also organizational and operational support;

- used America's domestic media outlets - newspapers, magazines, radio, TV... - to "plant" advertisements (often covertly or through third parties, but not necessarily) and promote certain conspiracy stories;

- knew some "operations" needed time to take root and spread, but were willing to wait, occasionally "feeding" the process to ensure it moves in the right direction

In essence, the major objective was to sow doubt and, as he put it, "raise questions" that over time (which they were willing to take) would bring about more fundamental repercussions from within the society itself.

This, then, really helps to put RT's programming into perspective: seems like despite the change in the century (and the millennium!) and all the technological progress, tactics and the general approach haven't changed much. At least in terms of international programming...

Undermining America's image, both, internationally and especially within the U.S. itself, will not automatically result in spontaneous love for Russia. It's high time Moscow realizes that money, especially that poured into RT, will not buy them love. After all, when it comes to love, actions speak louder than words.


UPDATE [1/26/2011; 9:45AM]: I forgot to refer to the following "CrossTalk" episode and a report that clearly fall under the same "influence operations" category.

What bothers me most, however, is how it gets built upon tragic events such as the Domodedovo bombing. Can such strategy and tone really promote (or at least, clarify) your image? I doubt it...


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