John McCain has shrunk his polling gap. We are told by the mainstream media that McCain has a security advantage. Should any international crises be brought to the fore, McCain is allegedly more capable to handle it.
This same approach was used by Hillary Clinton in her famous "3 AM" commercials, which were aimed at Obama's lack of foreign policy experience, which his political foes want to equate with ineptitude in the management of future crises abroad.
Without a war in South Ossetia, there would be no opportunity to show off McCain's foreign policy credentials.
At least the war in Georgia has been good for someone. Randy Scheunemann, McCain's chief foreign policy adviser, secured a $200,000 contract with the Georgian government for his lobbying firm, according to the Washington Post. Scheunemann is a prominent neo-con with firm ties to the present administration, who promoted the Iraq war. See a Jason Leopold article on him at consortiumnews.com.
Georgia quickly lost the war. Russia has seized the provinces of largely pro-Russian breakaway provinces in response. The media and President Bush have scolded Russia for its ongoing occupation.
In the court of public opinion, at least in the US, Georgia has earned sympathy. The country has been described as pro-democracy and friendly to the West. The media portrays its case favorably.
Neo-cons appear to wield the puppet-strings for the mainstream media, who've been trying to portray Georgia as the victims. The Russians are framed in stark Cold War terms, with a vampiric Putin crushing the poor, weaker Georgians like they did in Czechoslovakia in 1968, or Hungary in 1956. File footage from those crackdowns was replayed all over the TV networks to affirm the similarities.
Now while the Georgians attacked a breakaway province of South Ossetia, igniting the Russian reaction, the Russians have been labelled the villain for responding.
The Russian response may be disproportionate, but in an age where preemptive war is legitimatized in defiance of international law, might makes right. The media, captive actors in the permanent war state, just play along, trying to build on old 'us and them' analogies that find fertile ground among Americans ignorant of the geographical details, and thereby almost entirely dependent on mainstream media for the facts in this conflict. With 9/11 still fresh in the past, fear-mongers also stroke fear of the Russians left over from the Cold War period.
Censorship by Omission
Five major media monopolies make up over 90% of the news reported in the US. The media consolidation has come with the blessings of the FCC extended to media moguls with strong Republican ties. Steered by their corporate masters, newsrooms are packed with directors friendly to the neo-con movement. Truths that contradict their policies can only emerge outside the US, as coverage that can be considered detrimental to neo-con positions is omitted here. We've seen this effect in the reporting on Iraq.
American news weeklies have run a different cover pictures and titles for their overseas versions--far more skeptical of the war's progress--than for their domestic editions, which embrace the idea Iraq is largely a success. CNN International offers a line-up largely free of editorial bias. Americans therefore don't get a complete version of events, especially when the Washington consensus and official War Party line is contested by a visual rendering of contrary facts unpalatable to neo-con sympathizers who jealously defend their control over the delete key.
The predictable outcome is a population wholly ignorant about international events. Some media critics claim that the dumbing down of news content serves the interest of the elite well, in holding average Americans hostage to yellow journalism and politically motivated manipulation.
In one example, Russia Today reports that one American girl visiting her father in South Ossetia was cut off on Fox (video) when she described the extent of aggression against South Ossetian civilians taken by Georgian troops.
That video report from Russia Today includes a brief video clip of twelve year old Amanda Kokoeva taken upon her return to San Francisco. Referring to Russian troops, Amanda says:
"They helped us out a lot. And they came when we really needed help. So I just want to say thank you to them."
[Technical note: Firefox had issues playing the video. Another video from Russia Today on the Kokoeva story was available only through Microsoft's IE.]
With a tide of pro-Georgian sympathy have come promises of humanitarian aide. Russia's reaction to the initial Georgian attack was framed as brutish and unnecessary, a state of belief which will add pressure to any continuing occupation of those provinces, even if their populations support the presence of Russian soldiers.