#6 - 7138
April 9, 2003
UNITED STATES IS THE FLAGSHIP OF ANTI-AMERICANISM
Gleb Pavlovsky on the situation in Iraq and international relations
Author: Gleb Pavlovsky, President of the Effective Policy Foundation
[from WPS Monitoring Agency, www.wps.ru/e_index.html]
IT IS SURPRISING THAT THE US HAS NOT TRIED TO TALK TO RUSSIA SINCERELY, AND THIS IS A POLITICAL RATHER THAN PR FAILURE. OTHERWISE, THE US WOULD WIN RUSSIA OVER TO ITS SIDE. ON THE OTHER HAND, THIS OPTION HAS NOT YET BEEN EXHAUSTED: RUSSIA IS VERY RESPONSIVE TO SINCERITY.
Currently, the US is carrying out several propaganda campaigns. One is for the Iraqi population, another one is for the US forces, the third is directed at the American population, and the forth one is for the rest of the world. So far, only the campaign directed on Americans has been a relative success. The patriotic campaign aimed to increase the morale in the army is less successful. The remaining two campaigns have failed: the US is isolated from the rest of the world by the Iraqi operation and this has been caused by its unilateral military action and the inability to understand even the psychology of its allies and partners.
The main source of anti-Americanism in the world is the way the US communicated with its NATO and UN allies and strategic partners like Russia. Observers say: if the US is unable to convince even its allies is it necessary to accept its arguments at all? Paradoxically, but the US is the flagship of anti-Americanism in the world: it acts as a revolutionary who ignores any conservative arguments and the legal and legitimate basics. This brings the US both advantages and disadvantages.
As for the Iraqi propaganda, there are three types of it: for the population, the world, and the Iraqi army. The latter is failing, as there is neither desertion nor pacifism in the coalition army. The first two aims seem to be achieved Iraqis are loyal to the new regime and the people do not toughly separate themselves from the Baghdadi regime.
Of course, the propaganda for the rest of the world is being extremely successful, especially in Arab countries. The US is doing terrible things in relation to the Islamic world - this is one of the reasons for discrepancies between Russia and the US. The initiatives are launched by the US - but the rest of the world will have to pay for them. It can be felt in the Russian society as well - in these terms the Iraqi military propaganda is even more sensible than it could be expected.
Iraqi is moderately lying like all military lie during a war: both about their own losses and the losses of the enemy. If you constantly show wounds and dead bodies of your own army, eventually you will morally decay it. At the same time, I think the increases censorship in the US is a confusion from the inability to understand the present situation rather than a conscious policy. The US administration cannot understand what should be permitted and what - restricted.
The US cannot understand Iraq's strategy; the matter is that the US and Saddam Hussein have different concepts concerning the end of the war. The US considers occupying Baghdad as a victory, while Saddam considers it as an intermediary stage. Hence, occupying Baghdad may become every advantageous for Hussein: he will become an Arab fairy- tale hero even if he dies. In these terms he is similar with Osama bin Laden.
It should be understood that having launched a revolutionary war which bases only on its own ideology, the US has opened this way to its opponents - from this viewpoint the propaganda plays a disproportionately great role. At the same time, it should not be forgotten that propaganda cannot always replace a war and military successes.
Currently, they do not use traditional for such situations mechanisms of the so-called people's diplomacy, direct addresses, such as Movladi Udigov used for the Russian society. Saddam Hussein does not make attempts to turn Iraqis to the American society - although it is unclear how effectively it would be. For instance, Vietnamese partisans managed to create a strong alliance with the US pacifists during the Vietnam war. This is a failure of Saddam Hussein.
Americans did not analyze a very strange thing: for a decade Saddam Hussein announced his victory what is obviously a military defeat for everyone else. I would also like to draw attention to Hussein's propaganda success in the Russian media: the Iraqi assessment of the situation prevails even in the liberal media, in Russia.
Russia is vulnerable to such propaganda, apparently due to its World War II experience. Probably, this is connected with the partisan myth which is extremely popular in Russia: the Russian mentality views a war of a strong state against a small and weak opponent quite differently from how this is viewed in the US.
In order to finish the war it is not enough to declare it ended unilaterally. For instance, in 1940 France was entirely defeated. Moreover, it was the only country of the anti-Hitler coalition which actually took the side f the enemy. However, in 1945 France accepted Germany's surrender as a victor-power. If a nation is able to politically replay its military defeat, it can seriously change the situation. Propaganda helps here, but it was de Gaulle who won the war. I doubt that Iraq has a de Gaulle now: Saddam is not the one, and he is very isolated in the Arab world. He managed to spoil relations with almost all states and in these terms he is not a strong Arab politician.
The difference is that the war changes very much: for instance, the Baas party is not very popular among Iraqis, but when the US launches a war against it and drives it into a corner, the corrupted institute can be easily transformed into a heroic institute.
It is surprising that the US has not tried to talk to Russia sincerely, and this is a political rather than PR failure. Otherwise, the US would win Russia over to its side. On the other hand, this option has not yet been exhausted: Russia is very responsive to sincerity. But the US is not trying to carry out a publicity campaign which would be convincing for Russia; its threats are counterproductive and elicit the opposite reaction - in fact, they are uniting the Russian left and right wing. We all understand that missiles do not strike right next to an embassy without a definite decision. America says it is "sending signals", but I do not think these are signals that can help the US promotional effort abroad.
(Translated by Arina Yevtikhova)