Why Americans are so vulnerable to Russian propaganda?
Everyone who somehow keeps track of Russian media have noticed that the propaganda has been justifying everything for already several years.
Especially military crimes of the Kremlin, which are considered as need to respond to the “external threat” that became more acute. All the actions of the country in this direction are presented as “forced response” to USA policy. The Russian authorities, ranging from Putin himself to diplomats are constantly repeating mantras about “NATO is violating its promise not to expand to the East”, “The United States invaded the sphere of Russia’s vital interests by organizing a take-over in Ukraine”, “unleashes “the fifth column”, “provoked a civil war in Donbas” and so on.
Such theses, successfully used in the country, were repeatedly refuted by the Western press. In particular, articles were published, detailing the falsity of the myth that “the West humiliated Russia”. It also shows that today’s opposition is the consequence, not the cause of Russia’s aggression. Despite this, the Russian propaganda arguments are popular among a certain part of ordinary Americans. Kremlin’s media and troll army that works with them, hit upon the weaknesses of western society pretty good, and successfully use them.
Among these “weaknesses” are:
1. The average American tends to be really naive on foreign policy issues. Traditional American pragmatism does not extend to the scope, not regarding his personal interests. The situation in Russia and Ukraine are certainly not included in the sphere of such interests. Consequently, most Americans show sincere ignorance in these issues and ready to believe any incoming information. Moreover, this data is not important enough to make them check the incoming information.
2. The Russian propaganda skillfully plays on the critical attitude to the government, which is peculiar to Americans. Even American patriot is accustomed to not trust the politicians and, therefore, the official media. Americans consider critical and even suspicious attitude to the government a major achievement of their democracy. It’s also a guarantee of avoiding dictatorship. This is a very laudable quality itself, and Russian propagandists use it more than anything else.
The idea that the state is a kind of “lesser evil”, from which we can expect any meanness, traditionally run like a golden thread even through American popular culture.
Let’s recall the many Hollywood images of the FBI or the CIA employees, who suddenly find out that they are only pawns in the game of the authorities. They begin to fight with the villains and with their own government. Even in the cult show «The X-Files» after several years of searching for “little green men” main characters suddenly found out that high-ranking officials from the government not only hide the truth, but also are in cahoot with aliens. Therefore, information, independent from the official authorities, supplied by Russian propagandists, often perceived by people as a «matrix breakthrough” and the only way to find out an alternative point of view.
3. Some of the US media also contribute to this. More than a year ago, well-known American analyst Paul Goble noted that many Western journalists have confused balance with objectivity. They believe that they should cover all positions on the issue, regardless of evidence of their truthfulness. This encourages Moscow to flood the media with multiple versions of reality. Kremlin is convinced that Western media will buy them up as “part of the history», which eventually happens. The fact that many Western journalists just cannot imagine the scale of lie that exists today in the Russian media, and continue to judge coming from the Russian information on the usual criteria for them, adds some drama to the issue.
4. Cult of professionalism existing in America in this case also plays into the hands of Russian propagandists.
Unlike Russians, the average American does not consider him automatically an expert in “geopolitics”. I have already mentioned that today many citizens of Russia became so “hooked” on a television discussion of world politics, finding in it a surrogate for their own importance, that even a simple temple watchman ready with sincere conviction prove what “really” were NATO plans three years ago.
However, Americans tend to look at things more soberly, and not consider themselves experts in everything without exception. Therefore, they have special respect for the people who came from Russia. They believe that they are much better aware of what’s happening in their homeland. The opinion of such person, especially fanatically self-righteous, is often perceived by ordinary Americans as a professional opinion. Due to this the level of credibility increases significantly.
5. The Kremlin make use of famous American political correctness.
Americans do not consider it necessary to prove that they are right to their partner in conversation by all means. They are ready to remain silent, especially when they see that discussed topic is more important to their companion. Considering that ordinary Russians, who believe in the Kremlin propaganda, and especially paid trolls, insisting on their rightness as if it were a matter of life and death, the majority of Americans prefer to politely give way not to hurt their feelings. Thus, even disagreeing with the arguments of the opposite side, Americans do not prevent the further spread of propaganda.
Unfortunately, the Kremlin political strategists are well aware of West’s weaknesses, and skillfully use them. The United States is, despite all the external concern about activation of the Russian “active measures” in the country, has not yet been able to find information attacks confrontation format which would allow to reduce the threat, but does not violate the basic democratic principles of the United States at the same time.
EMPR, Maria Nesheva conributed to this publication
Original article in Russian is available on nr2.com.ua