Posted by Amanda Chapel
I remember from slanderous televidiniye commercial from many years ago in Amerika, showink alleged Soviet fashion show by flashlight. "Is next, evenink wear. Is next, svimwear."
I vould haff launched nuclear veapons vhen I saw this except my flashlight had no batteries.
-- Natasha Fatale
You remember that commercial. It was a hilarious parody of a Russian fashion show. Large women workers wearing plain proletariat outfits walked a runway illuminated by flashlights. Well, apparently, not everyone thought it was funny. I am reminded of it with the announcement that the Kremlin has hired a U.S. PR firm to gussy up its G8 image.
From the Financial Times:
Certainly, from the pulpit of the Church of PR, the contract is being hailed as an absolute coup for Ketchum. On the surface it makes total sense. Ketchum did the World Economic Forum in Davos. And Russia is our friend now. Right?
Well, if it's anything, it's a very complicated situation. In a nutshell, George is virtually paying his kinda buddy Vladimir to gingerly cut the green wire on the detonator of mutual assured destruction. I imagine two men in white anti-dust antiseptic suits in a stark clean room with a lot of measured whispers between them. All smiles and congeniality does not minimize the sense of "one false move." Probably not the place you'd want a swarm of PR Flacks futzing with hair and makeup, primping for the big show.
Here, by way of a little background, the aftermath of September 11 represents the high point of Russian-American relations. The assumption was that there was a real opportunity for a genuine Russian-American partnership. Issues of nonproliferation, counterterrorism, energy security, and economic development were to be the foundation of the newly formed alliance.
But presently, there's a 2 mega-ton elephant in the room. Russia's construction of nuclear reactors in Iran and its role in missile technology transfer are putting tremendous stress on the U.S. relationship presently. Tension is an understatement. This could be where we part company.
According to Stephen Sestanovich, the George F. Kennan Senior Fellow for Russian and Eurasian Studies at the Counsel for Foreign Relations, "a major test of how close Moscow wants to align its policies with the United States and Europe will be how it handles the delicate nuclear negotiations with Iran. The United States and Europe have backed so far the Russian initiative, but the key question will arise if Iran firmly rejects the Russian offer." And if that happens says Sestanoich, Russia "will either join with the United States and Europe in putting pressure on Iran to change course or part ways." Russian interests just might not lie in being part of a Western group that tries to punish Iran. "We really don't know what Russian policy is going to be," said Sestanoich.
As to Russia's leanings, there've been signs. Putin is trying to reassert a sense of Soviet importance around the world to give Russia a distinct voice in foreign policy. According to Sestanovich, "Russia might decide there are commercial interests, including the prospect of selling nuclear reactors and weapons. And there are political and even geopolitical interests that go beyond commerce."
Is that delicate or what?
Okay, that said, all the people in PR line up. Now look to your left. Now look to your right. Is there any PR person you'd like to see play a role in that process? Do you think it is a good idea for a U.S. firm to help Russia find its "distinct voice" at this point in time? Remember, the downsides are... well... a lot of burnt toast all around. But, I am sure that if any PR person survives, she/he will likely spin the nutritional benefits of carbon in one's diet. So it all works out. Never mind.
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