Palin: War on Russia

The USA will go to war with Russia if necessary, Sarah Palin said in an interview with ABC yesterday. Commenting on Georgia, she said that Russia did after all ‘invade another country. Unprovoked.’

Not even the most vocal anti-Russian, pro-Georgian commentators in the US have gone this far. This kind of comment ignores the multiple provocations (from both sides) over the past months and years. When they want to shift the blame for the conflict to the Russian administration, US commentators generally have two strategies to deal with the independent evidence that both sides were preparing for war as a contingency and that Georgian forces were the first to begin massive heavy artillery bombing of South Ossetia at approx. midnight on 7-8 August:

Strategy 1: Georgia walked into Russian trap.

Strategy 2: Russian reaction was excessive.

So, what does Palin’s remark illustrate?

1. It provides more ammunition to those criticising her lack of foreign policy expertise.

2. It provides support for ‘the CNN effect’. Not uncontroversial, the CNN effect suggests that mainstream news media have a significant effect on foreign policy. Its critics say (a) it exaggerates the power of the media to affect policy, (b) meanings are not transmitted in such a linear fashion (media -> audience -> policy), and/or (c) surely policy makers have better sources of information (academic specialists, specialist advisers).

Palin’s remarks show that she, at least, is more influenced by US news media than by experts on Russian, Georgian or Caucasus politics.

On the CNN effect:

Steven Livingston (pdf), Piers Robinson (article) (book). Fred H. Cate (‘The so-called “CNN effect” is not as clear-cut as many people think’).

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One Comment to “Palin: War on Russia”

  1. Don’t forget her mentor’s intense briefings. I don’t think that she would lean that far out of the window if she weren’t sure that she has McCain’s backing. ‘Drill, baby, drill!’, Nada! Nada! (indeed, the Republican Convention was entertaining) and Cold War II (the new black) could turn out to be a not so narrow highway to the vice presidency of the USA. Interesting, if predictable, is how she is trying to paint herself, in her function as the Alaskan Commander in Chief, as the valiant last line of defence keeping the Russian hordes at bay.

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