Monday, November 27, 2006

What Do You Believe? 

There are extraordinary incidents in which one is forced to line up on one side of a question or the other. This is one. The death of a former Russian spy through rare poison creates an enormous PR problem for the Russian state, especially since President Putin had a career in the KGB.

So far, there is no telling who might have killed Litvinenko, or even whether it might have been suicide. The difficulty is that it places a black mark on Russia until the truth is uncovered, if it is. Even if evidence is produced that it was not Russia, Putin will have trouble making the case go away.

That's a PR crisis that strikes at the power of government itself. Putin would be wise to place the resources of the Russian at the disposal of the British government to find out quickly where the polonium210 came from and who might have handled it. The retort by an aide of Putin appears to indicate the government is glad Litvinenko is dead -- hardly a smart PR move.

The Soviets in the old regime were masters of disinformation and many people believed them, except those suffering under their rule. They understood cynically that too many of us in the West are fools -- even those with high IQs. They perverted public relations into the worst kind of "spin" and got away with it for too many decades.

This is why practitioners who ignore facts are dangerous, even though they may be successful financially. One wonders how they can live with themselves.


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