Debate Magazine

"How Embarrassment May Be Putin's Downfall"

Posted on the 21 September 2018 by Markwadsworth @Mark_Wadsworth

Sven Hughes in City AM, three days ago:
When serving as a British army reservist within Psychological Operations, we used to refer to these subtle divisions as “fissures”.
These fault lines in enemy audiences could be exploited to create great chasms between the authoritarians and the minions that sustained their power. Quite simply, the minions love the sense of associated status they get from being in cahoots with the authoritarian – they don’t like to be laughed at.
The RT interview seemed to reveal this exact fissure – Putin’s arrogance is starting to make even his most loyal supporters feel social embarrassment.
This could be the one silver lining for the west from the Salisbury incident. Information warfare only works when you have the broadcasters and re-broadcasters in place to disseminate your message. One break in the chain, such as a pair of agents becoming an international laughing stock, and the whole propaganda machine quickly suffers a complete malfunction.

An interesting but very bold prediction, I thought.
To my surprise, from the BBC today:
... the cover-up seems to have backfired as badly as the actual operation. Instead of quaking with fright, many Russians are laughing at their spies instead.
"It's not just teasing, it's mockery. I have friends who couldn't believe our lot could be so rotten," Gennady Gudkov admits. "Now they call me, and they believe."
With jokes and memes flooding social media, some commentators suggest a line has been crossed.
"What seemed morally unacceptable before has become the new norm, it's routine," Andrei Kolesnikov wrote on, calling the Salisbury suspects' appearance a "clown show" and their story "obvious, evasive lies".
But he sees another new norm in response.
"Society is laughing at the authorities," the journalist wrote. "State propaganda is becoming genuinely comic and that discredits and weakens those in power."

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