August 11, 2008

Today's Front Pages Analysis

Russian invasion of little Georgia is news here, there and everywhere

An undeclared war that will have no winners is Page One news here, there and almost everywhere. Pro-western President Saakashvili of Georgia said he was going to regain control of the tiny separatist region of South Ossetia, where many, if not most, of the people carry Russian passports. Do that and it will mean war, Russia warned. Georgia moved and so did Russia. Georgia, about the size of West Virginia with almost three times the population, is at war. The million-man-plus Russian army moved against the 37,000-man Georgian army. Russia seems to have lost the public- and international-relations battle; Saakashvili may lose his job as part of the price of peace. And another would-be separatist enclave in Georgia, Abkhazia, is in the mix.

We find that The Birmingham (Ala.) News reports, “Russia bares teeth in Georgia as blitz expands on land, sea.” The Arizona Republic in Phoenix squares off “Russia turns up heat on Georgia,” and the Arkansas Democrat Gazette in Little Rock leads with “Russia advances into Georgia,” while the Daily News in Los Angeles tops the page with “Thousands fleeing Georgia.” The Iowa City Press-Citizen in Iowa reports “Bush: Violence unacceptable” as he raps Russia, and the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle in upstate New York says, “Russia expands military action.” The Bismarck Tribune in North Dakota reports, “Russia expands fight in Georgia,” the San Antonio Express-News in Texas notes that “Russia ignores pleas for cease-fire” and The Columbian in Vancouver, Wash., tells its readers that “Russia escalates blitz in Georgia.” And that’s the way it goes.

In Europe, closer to the action, Die Presse in Vienna, Austria, squares off at the top of Page One “Chain reaction in the Caucasus,” the Suddeutsche Zeitung in Munich, Germany, plays up “Russia bombs Georgia,” and Trouw in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, uses a similar headline. The story gets heavy Page One play in Lidove Noviny in Prague, Czech Republic, in De Morgen, Brussels, Belgium, in Corriere della Sera, in Milan, Italy, in Nepszabadsag in Budapest, Hungary, in Gazeta Wyborcza in Warsaw, Poland, in Dagens Nyheter in Stockholm, Sweden, in Jurnal de Caras-Severin in Resita, Romania, and in El Mundo, in Madrid, Spain. The Daily Telegraph in London puts a more frightening headline on its top story: “Thousands flee as Russia ‘starts ethnic cleansing.’”

It’s a story that will be with us for a while, taking some of the glint off the Olympics coverage.

Gene Mater is a Freedom Forum media consultant.

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