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Discourse of Cold War propaganda in US press: The case of 1976 Foxbat deception

By Jacek Siminski

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Outline of the Presentation

Hypotheses and research questions Grand Theories Methodology Context

Most prominent examples

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Research Questions

Hypothesis: Propaganda as a social legitimization tool during the arms race. How did the image of the Soviet fighter change during the course of events (diachronic analysis)? In what way (if it did) did the propaganda serve as a tool for manufacture of social consent?

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Grand Theories

Ideology as a basis for existence of propaganda

Hegemony (Gramsci 2009)

Ideology and discourse (Van Dijk 1998)

Propaganda carrier of ideology (Ellul 2006) Propaganda relationship with the media (Chomsky and Herman 1994) Discursive construction of Cold War propaganda (Chilton 1996)
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Discourse Analysis Critical Discourse Analysis Discourse Historical Approach

Context unseparable from the meaning

Categories of DHA:

Thematic analysis (Entry-level) In-depth:

Social actors Topoi Propaganda arguments used for support of the defence budget spendings
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Separate analytical category

Wodak 2008 - four level definition of context

Van Dijk 2001 - discourse = text + context

Detailed description

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Context (I)

Significance of the Belenko Case

Why was the MiG-25 created the Cold War background (Wings of The Red Star) Prelude events that led to development of the MiG: FGP incident, American XB-70 project.

Western false assumptions

Belenko's defection (Mikoajczuk)

Cultural shock
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The Empirical Material

The New York Times daily

Method of gathering: Online archive, keyword: Belenko Almost one year of relevant coverage of the event (September 7. 1976 August 14. 1977)

18 articles + minor interdiscursive links

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The Analysis Entry Level

The defection of the Soviet Pilot Viktor Belenko's background Japanese-Soviet-US relations The examination of the plane, The technical features connected with the plane The international military background The intelligence actions The countermeasures against the soviet technology.
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The Analysis In-depth The most prominent example - Military Windfall for the West

An article, dated September 8th 1976

Military Windfall for the West

Topics included:
Francis Gary Powers incident, Iran, Israeli, Syria and Egypt conflicts and the American bomber development programme, MiG-25 record setting.

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Military Windfall for the West (1)

Social actors:

Shah, the US officers, the F-14 Tomcat,

The USA,

the Allied intelligence Services,

the Soviet pilot,

the Phoenix Missile,

the SR-71, the FAA, the Strategic Air Command,

American U-2 Spy Plane,

the Israeli,

the Arabs,

Soviet Weapons,

the B-52s,
the USAF, the B-1 Bomber, the Soviet Union, the Chinese and Japanese air forces.

Intelligence Sources,

the MiG-25,



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Military Windfall for the West (2) Agency of Social Actors

Israeli spotting the MiG-25 (presented as enemy) 'deal with': (9) The Tomcat does not have a comparable ceiling or speed, but it carries the Phoenix missile, which, with a range of more than 200 miles, is believed to give F-14 the capability to deal with the MiG-25.
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Military Windfall for the West (3) Agency of Social Actors

US being better:
(10) The Soviet plane set a world speed record in September 1967, when it flew at 1,852.61 miles an hour. The record was broken by an American SR-71 last July at 2,016 miles an hour. This speed has not yet been approved by the Federation Aeronautique Internationale in Paris.

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Military Windfall for the West (4) Topoi

Topos of arms race:

(12) The MiG-25's capabilities, the sources said, are one reason why the Air Force wants to push forward with the development of the B-1 Bomber, which is faster than the B-52 and can operate efficiently at low levels, which MiG-25 cannot do.

Topos of danger:
(11) According to the Strategic Air Command, the MiG-25, in its interceptor version, is the most potent weapon in the Soviet air defense force of 2,600 aircraft. In view of its speed, altitude and weapons it is viewed as a serious threat to the B-52's which make up the bulk of the American strategic bomber service.

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Military Windfall for the West (5) technical features as a propaganda tool

(13) The plane has four visible attachments for air-to-air missiles. When used as an interceptor, it is armed with four AA-6 missiles, codenamed Acrid by the Atlantic alliance. These missiles have a launch weight of 1,870 pounds, including the warhead weighing 220 pounds.

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Concluding notes

Propaganda present even in the US quality press

Used as a tool to manufacture social legitimization of the arms race Ideological distinction of us and them clearly visible Topoi as the main argumentation strategy

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Chomsky, Noam and Edward S. Herman. 1994. Manufacturing consent: The political economy of the mass media. London: Vintage. Chilton, Paul A. 1996. Security metaphors: Cold War discourse from containment to common house. New York: Peter Lang. Gramsci, Antonio. 2009. Hegemony, intellectuals, and the state, in: John Storey (eds.), Cultural theory and popular culture: A reader. (4th edition.) Harlow: Pearson Education. Mikoajczuk, Marian. 2008. Ucieczka porucznika Wiktora Bielenki [Escape of lieutenant Viktor Belenko], Aero: Magazyn Lotniczy. Mar. 2008, 26-36. Parrington, Alan. 1997. Mutually Assured Destruction revisited. Strategic doctrine in question. ( (date of access: 17 May 2013). Wings of the Red Star: Foxbat Deception. (YouTube clip, 16. Aug. 2011) ( (date of access: 27. May 2013) Wodak, Ruth. 2008. Introduction: Discourse Studies important concepts and terms, in: Ruth Wodak and Micha Krzyzanowski (eds.). Qualitative Discourse Analysis in the social sciences. New York: Palgrave McMillan, 1-30. Van Dijk, Teun. 1998. Ideology: A multidisciplinary approach. London: SAGE Publications. Van Dijk, Teun. 2001. Critical Discourse Analysis, in: Deborah Schriffin, Deborah Tannen and Heidi Ehenberger Hamilton (eds.), Handbook of Discourse Analysis. Blackwell: Malden, 352-371.

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Thank You :)

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