Saturday, August 23, 2008

Question Everything!

UPDATE Check out this post on Blackfive for some interesting background on Georgian-Russian relations from a Georgian woman now living in the US.

On August 14th, I wrote a post about propaganda where I agreed with one of the bloggers at Castle Argghhh, Kat, who wrote that “all information is propaganda. Official information is official propaganda. Thus, it always deserves to be challenged. Paraphrasing Socrates, question everything.” I truly believe that we should question the information we’re given, particularly when it’s information that is “fed” to us through the news media, the government, or other secondary sources. If the person feeding the information isn’t “there,” or isn’t “involved,” in otherwords isn’t a primary source, then the information may be screened or spun or shaped in some way. That’s the reason I started reading blogs, particualrly milblogs, in the first place; because I wanted to get the story from those who were writing it. Having said that, there’s nothing wrong with getting information from secondary sources and passing that information along, as long as you identify the secondary source so that others can make their own judgments about the information you’re passing along. After all, it’s all propaganda and we chould question everything.

Now understanding that all information is propaganda and that we should question everything, I wrote a post on August 21st discussing the Russian invasion of Georgia and asking whether anyone else thought it was getting colder along the former Iron Curtain. I discussed information that had been reported in FoxNews, clearly idenifying the source of my information. I received a very interesting comment to that post from a person identified as “Chris.” In this lengthy comment Chris takes me to task for relying on FoxNews for my international news, emphasizes that I don’t really know the facts about the conflict because I was not there, and points out that he believes that news from English speaking, North American focused media” is useless. Chris then goes on to outline the problems he has with my post, giving what appears to be a Russo-centric point of view for the reasons behind the conflict in Georgia and the increased tensions between Russia and the former-Soviet republics in the region.

Okay. After reading Chris’ comments I wondered if, like the Armorer, another milblogger who posts on Castle Argghhh, I’ve think I’ve found myself in the midst of the Russian InfoOps campaign. Perhaps I’m being too suspicious (I am an attorney) and Chris is just an open-minded guy who likes to play the Devil’s Advocate. But I don’t think so. Although I took care to indicate that I got my information from a secondary source, Chris doesn’t. I don’t know where he got the information for the facts he provides. I don’t know if he’s developed his opinions because of personal experience, or if he’s relying on secondary sources just like I am. I do, however, think that Chris is somewhere in the area involved in conflict. In one part of his comment, Chris talks about why Russia has a right to be nervous about Georgia and the Ukraine moving closer to the west and he says, “What if Canada and Mexico joined China in an all binding military agreement? How would the U.S feel? Surrounded. Think about WHY THE OTHER SIDE IS MAD for once. Does "They hate us for our freedom" sound familiar??? Same thing being spouted here. I don’t know where the “here” Chris refers to really is, Chris doesn’t say, but in context it sounds like Chris is either in Russia or working to advance the Russian point of view. Now, Chris is correct that I’m not there and cannot gather the facts for myself. But, hey, I’m just a blogger and my posts are just my opinion based on information I’ve gathered, questioned, and analyzed. I’m not a reporter and don’t pretend to be one. I’ll leave that for folks like Michael Totten, who is in Tblisi and is blogging about it.

So, maybe I’m seeing InfoOps when there really isn’t one (after all, I’m just a blogger giving my opinion based on what I’ve learned from other people, why would there be an official need to address my opinion?). Maybe Chris is just a concerned citizen of whatever country who wants to give the other side of the equation. Either way, I think it’s great. Bring it on, Chris! As I said earlier, it’s all propaganda and we should question everything; including who is commenting and why.

1 comment:

James said...

I've seen some strange comments in other blogs, similar to what you've encountered. The fun one was the one that kept arguing that of course our news media is controlled by the government, they have licenses from the government...

One poster at Baen's Bar is a Russian immigrant or first-generation American, and is reading stuff from Russia that suggests that the Russians may have sent their tanks through the tunnel BEFORE Georgia moved in to South Ossetia.