Streetwise Professor

August 31, 2008

Propaganda? Projection? Played?

Filed under: Uncategorized — The Professor @ 8:40 am

Putin recently claimed that the Russo-Georgian War was the result of a conspiracy to elect John McCain.

I really doubt that he actually believes this. It is more likely propaganda, an attempt to redirect blame and criticism. I imagine that Putin is somewhat surprised at the intensity of the blowback (although it’s mostly talk and very little action), and thinks that he can play into widespread anti-American sentiment by attempting to shift blame in our direction. Whatever.

But perhaps he does believe it. I could readily imagine a KGB guy thinking “That’s what I’d do” and projecting his own beliefs and motivations on the devilish Americans.

Regardless of his true beliefs, it is still something of a surprise that he would make this claim personally. For isn’t this an admission that he was played by the Americans? That they manipulated the judo master into an action that was in their interests, not his, or his country’s? Now he might say that the US pulled Saakashvili’s strings, but even so, what compelled Putin and Russia to react? Didn’t we effectively pull his strings as well by exploiting his well-known rage at Georgia and Saakashvili?

The eeeevil plan would succeed only if Russia responded to Georgian actions in a way that raised the specter of a new Cold War, to the benefit of the candidate with stronger national security credentials. For Putin’s argument to make any sense, the cabal planning this elaborate conspiracy would have to count on Russia to take the bait and smash into Georgia, meaning that Putin was used, played, to advance the interests of an anti-Russian candidate; that he acted exactly as his enemies thought he would. That’s not something I would admit to even if it were true–but especially if it weren’t.

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