About the site
Oasis online magazine
Analytical journalism
Guest book
Rules of "Oasis"
Site Directory
The role of the media in the military-political conflicts of our time
The globalization of information processes and the inclusiveness of information flows, the rapid development and increase in the volume of influence of the audience of telecommunication networks marked the end of the 20th century. These factors have led scientists (futurologists, sociologists, philosophers) to argue that industrial society, where production played a leading role, and the intermediate post-industrial stage (for the post-Soviet space, the term deindustrialization), where the service sector plays an important role, replaced the There is a new information society, for which the priority is the sphere of mass communications. Already, information technologies have become a powerful production force: for example, today 90% of capital is transferred from owner to owner through electronic communications, and the potential of some information corporations is greater than that of individual states. An illustrative example is the company Microsoft, which with its capital of approximately $ 500 billion, is ahead of economic indicators, say, Spain.

The German philosopher Spengler, at the beginning of the 20th century, provided for an unprecedented increase in the role of information in the life of society. In his work “Twilight of Europe” he wrote: “In the near future, three or four world newspapers will direct the thoughts of the provincial newspapers and, with their help, the“ will of the people ”. Everything will be decided by a small number of people controlling these newspapers, whose names may not even be known, but a huge mass of second-ranking politicians, rhetoricians and tribunes, deputies and journalists from representatives of provincial horizons, will support the illusion of popular self-determination in the lower strata of society. ” It should be noted that O. Spengler did not provide for the development of electronic media at that time - then his predictions would probably be even bolder. After all, the development of telecommunications is the determining factor of the information society. How much time it takes, and how important television watching is for the average European, suggests that TV is the main icon of our time.

The communication sphere in general and the media in particular have always been active participants in armed conflicts. In this context, the fact that 60 years ago the pretext for the Second World War — the attack on the radio station in Glewitz — looks very symbolic. Historians note that B. Mussolini, in the opinion of his colleagues, when planning military operations, paid more attention to what headlines would appear in the newspapers than military expediency. However, in the Second World War, it was those states that were most convincing in their information and propaganda achievements. The use of the media at that time was of relatively little significance for military success.

Nowadays, even the emergence of such concepts as “information war”, “media aggression”, “information security” testifies not only to the close connection of the media with conflict situations, but also to the fact that in armed conflicts of modern times the struggle on information the field is no less important than the actual military actions. If until recently the war mostly influenced the information sphere, in particular, journalism (for example, the First World War stimulated the emergence and development of analytical journalism in the USA, because the Americans could not understand how the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand caused this conflict ), feedback has recently been observed, both at the macro and at the micro level.

The turning point in the information and military sphere dates back to the Vietnam War. The US military has repeatedly claimed that the cause of their defeat (in the Vietnam War) was not so much the help of the USSR and the courage of the Vietnamese, as the negative position of "their" press. At the same time, it was considered necessary to have “informational and psychological support for military operations”: to form public opinion through the media in such a way that any military actions would find support among their own population and in general among the majority of the world's inhabitants. The methods practically do not differ from the usual methods of public relations. This is the creation of quantitative and qualitative advantages of their own point of view in the media, the introduction of persistent associations, schemes, myths that are in the interests of the organizer of the information campaign.

Nowadays, the media play an increasing role both in resolving armed conflicts and directly in their progress. “Today in developed countries, any action is impossible without appropriate information training. Wars should look fair, the enemy should be cruellest, their own warriors should be real heroes ”[G. Pocheptsov]. Modern wars are, above all, armed political demonstrations. And the demonstrative moment in them is no less important than the actual moment of use of the weapon. In general, propaganda works only when people go on their knees in propaganda. Journalists have long become a third party in almost every armed conflict, and its outcome largely depends on which side of the media they tend to support. Scientists who investigate the influence of information processes on the course of modern armed conflicts note: “Political, ideological and geopolitical views are formed in a large part of society solely on the basis of telecommunications. The media image is actually an atomic synthesis in which several approaches are concentrated at once - ethnic, cultural, ideological, political. An informational report from a hot spot about which nothing is known, for example, to a Capitol resident, should in the shortest possible time provide a geographical, historical, religious, economic, cultural, ethnic profile of the region, and also place accents according to a narrowly defined political goal. Thus, the profession of a journalist (especially a television journalist) approaches the profession of geopolitics. Mass media in modern society play no longer a purely auxiliary role, as they used to, but they become a powerful independent factor capable of making a strong influence on the historical fate of nations ”[A. Dugin].

Information support of the latest US military campaigns in Yugoslavia and Iraq has become a topic of separate research. The beginning of hostilities has always been preceded by powerful information campaigns, the purpose of which, above all, was to discredit the enemy, creating an image of the enemy. The main stage of the information war (as evidenced by the experience of operations in Iraq and Yugoslavia) is to demonstrate the advantages of American weapons, to conceal one’s own losses, to exaggerate the damage done to the enemy army, military industrial facilities and communication media, including television and radio stations of the enemy. At the same time, such information is disseminated through the press-controlled press centers. Researchers note that “at the beginning of a campaign, great resources are always needed in order to have time to quickly form the stereotype in the public consciousness. And to break a stereotype that has been formed is almost impossible ”[G. Pocheptsov].

Thus, the situation with the Serbs in Kosovo began to unwind from the frames taken in 1992 by the British company ITN. B. Clinton referred to them in his election speeches. These shots demonstrated, as it seemed to everyone, a concentration camp, as the person was shown behind barbed wire. As it turned out later, there was no barbed wire around the camp at all. However, the journalists found a house in the camp, in which there was a window with wire, and removed Albanians from inside. Then they identified two target audiences to influence the American population: women and Jews. (Studies have found that it is best to send such information to these groups in order to create the impression that "new Nazis" are emerging in Europe). As a result of this information campaign, “bad Serbs” and “good Albanians” appeared. At the same time, the Western media almost completely ignored the information of the Serbian side.

It should be noted that such information manipulation is practiced very often. For example, the Gulf War was served by special firms engaged in public relations. Before them was assigned the task: to justify the participation of the United States in the hostilities. At a congressional hearing, a certain Kuwaiti girl told in detail how Iraqi soldiers carried the babies and laid them on the concrete in one of the hospitals. The story made the right impression. But, as it turned out later, the girl who had been specially prepared for the performance, having taught her in several acting classes, was not on the scene, as she was the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador to the United States and belonged to the royal family).

Two directions in information campaigns that always accompany the fighting of the American army can be noted: promptly informing the media in the necessary way, providing all kinds of assistance to journalists and at the same time tough fighting against the leakage of negative information and serious pressure on those who spread it. In general, it can be noted that the informational aspect of these conflicts was planned no less diligently than the military one. It should be noted that during the bombing of Yugoslavia, strikes against Serbian telecommunications facilities paid almost no attention to NATO troops than to the destruction of military facilities.

The North Atlantic Alliance paid considerable attention to the formation of social thought in the neighboring European countries of Yugoslavia. For example, the NATO Information Center in Ukraine organized travels of Ukrainian journalists several times (which is remarkable: from both central and regional mass media) to Kosovo after Alliance troops were deployed there. The Ukrainian delegation included mainly those journalists who had long been in contact with this center, several times before visiting the headquarters of the Alliance in Brussels. Therefore, it is not surprising that although formally there were no requirements for materials, and the journalists had no restrictions on access to information (as the journalists themselves, who traveled to Kosovo say), the Ukrainian mass media covered the events in a manner acceptable to NATO. As a result, a paradoxical situation developed: the population of Ukraine as a whole negatively perceived the actions of NATO against Yugoslavia, and the presentation of materials in the local media after the introduction of Allied forces into Kosovo was mostly neutral or even positively reflected the course of events in the province.

The struggle in the information field is no less important than direct combat. For example, during the conflict in Dagestan in the summer of 1999, the Russian special services paid great attention to the elimination of the Kavkaz Center website on Movladi Udugov’s website. By the way, it is considered that for victory in the Russian-Chechen war of 1994-96. M. Udugov (who received the nickname “Chechen Goebbels” from the Russians) did no less than the field commanders: first, he won the information war with Russia (he created a favorable image of Chechnya), and only then the victory was actually obtained in the fighting. It was after this that analysts began to argue that the war in the Caucasus is, above all, an information war. “Chechen warlords are ready for an information war. Obviously, the one who wins it will be called the winner. And the one who loses will lose everything. ” [ABOUT. Chairs]. It is noteworthy that Russia drew the proper conclusions from the first Chechen campaign, and in 1999-2000 managed to reverse the situation in the information space in its favor.

In internal, civil, conflicts, fights for means of communication (in particular, telecentres) are generally crucial, as evidenced by the events of the last decade of the XX century. in the post-Soviet space: the battles for the television center in Moscow in October 1993, the storming of the Vilnius television center in 1991. By the way, the so-called “information wars” have long been the main method of domestic political struggle in developed countries. This makes it possible for futurologists to predict that in the future the media will be able to replace political parties.

The globalization of the information sphere brings to power not superpowers, but transnational media empires that create reality for themselves and manipulate the consciousness of the masses at their own discretion. A lot of researchers talk about the negative impact of mass media (especially electronic) on the recipient.

Director of the Institute for Mental Health Studies at the University of Michigan Dr. James J. Miller argues that a person’s glut of information leads to an imbalance in mental activity and may be associated with various forms of mental illness. And the philosopher Herbert Marcuse devotes to television one of the main roles in imposing on the person “erroneous needs”, in transforming a full-fledged personality into a “one-dimensional person.” Science-fiction writers and utopians, who model the totalitarian systems of the future, went even further. “451 Fahrenheit” by Ray Bradbury, “1984” by George Orwell shows how great the importance of television is in a modern repressive state. In these works, electronic media perform the function of controlling and imposing stereotypes. This tendency to emphasize the negative role of the media in the literature has recently progressed markedly. So, if the writers of the 1950s and the 1980s assigned television only the role of an instrument of control of the population by repressive power, then, for example, in the novel by Pelevin “Geneation P” (1999), television was already completely self-sufficient, and already politics became his instrument - media structures themselves model political reality. It is necessary to take into account the realities in which the novel appeared: the Russian reality created a very favorable ground for the emergence of such literary fiction. The presidential elections in Russia in 1996 and 2000 showed how strong the influence of electronic media is on the recipient. In 1996, President Yeltsin, whose rating at the beginning of the presidential campaign was very low (less than 8%), was sick, unpopular due to the disastrous economic situation and the actually lost Chechen war. Thanks to massive media campaigning, he was able to achieve re-election for a second term. In 1999-2000, the same media outlets, and also practically from scratch, created a high rating of his successor. “Nowadays, people learn about what they think on TV. Therefore, if you want to buy a couple of streets and not have a pale look after that, you must first make your TV tower sticking up above them, ”says one of the characters of“ Generation “P”.

Political extremists also understand that the media today play a leading role in provoking and fanning armed and political conflicts. For example, the leader of the Russian National Bolshevik Party, Eduard Limonov (Savenko), thinking about how to provoke a conflict between Ukraine and Russia over the Crimea, planned to organize mass unrest, and then show journalists a few dozen corpses, passing them off as victims of Ukrainian police special forces . “Tele- and photography from 50 to 100 corpses will lead to an explosion of public opinion. The headlines in the manner of "Ukrainian special forces shot 93 Russian teenagers, among them a girl of 13 years old" will unbalance the whole of Russia. " Further, E. Limonov stresses: even if it is established over time that these corpses have nothing to do with the incident, "and begin to refute the first terrible information, the effect of this refutation will be scanty." A significant role is also played by the mass media in the future: to provide the society with “disturbing information” and thereby attract those who are still hesitant to the armed struggle. Summing up his thoughts, E. Limonov concludes: it is impossible to start an armed conflict in the region “very far from the main routes of the media. And the media today as objects of attention of the rebels mean much more than the post office, train station and telegraph, taken together, in the time of Lenin. ”

All this gives grounds to assert that it is the mass media that becomes a promising target for the “revolutionaries of the 21st century”. Experts say: if traditional terrorism did not threaten society as an integral system, then high-tech terrorism of the new era could well provoke a crisis of the state with a developed information society infrastructure ”(which, for example, actually happened in the USA after the well-known terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001). G. Marcuse, whose work inspired members of European leftist terrorist groups, noted: “Turning off television and other electronic media could give an impetus to the beginning of what the fundamental contradictions of capitalism could not lead to the complete destruction of the system. Therefore, the agenda today is not questions of psychology or aesthetics, but the information base of domination. ” By the way, the image of a modern revolutionary terrorist is closely connected with the communication and information sphere, it is depicted as something between a hacker and a rebel: “The image of a warrior with a laptop with a wireless modem attached to the saddle is the stereotype of a fighter of the future. On the one hand, he secures his “propaganda rear” by creating virtual discussion clubs, and on the other, he manages combat units via e-mail. ” Hackers today steal millions of dollars over the Internet, penetrate electronic files of special services; Already began to seriously fear that they did not provoke a third world war.

In this regard, the issue of information security has recently acquired key importance. Experts note: “If a state cannot enter the world information and telecommunication system as an independent player, then the independence and sovereignty of such a state will be in question.”


1. Dmitry Shurkhalo. Media in modern armed conflicts. - Kiev 1999.
2. Alexander Dugin. Basics of geopolitics. - Moscow, 1999.
3. George Pocheptsov. Psychological wars. - Moscow 1999.
4. Victor Pelevin. "Geneation" P ". - Moscow, 1999.
5. Herbert Marcuse. One-dimensional man. - Moscow 1994.
6. Oswald Spengler. Twilight of Europe. - Minsk, 1998.
7. Edward Limonov. Anatomy of a hero. - Smolensk, 1998