Russian narrative of intervention in Syrian civil war : Critical examination of the Russian discourse describing Russian intervention in Syrian civil war from September 2015 to March 2016
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This thesis critically examines the Russian military intervention in Syria during the period of September 2015 – March 2016. It is a study that contributes to the analysis of the interrelation of two areas of political studies: media studies and foreign policy. In order to describe the logic behind Russian participation in the Syrian conflict, a social constructivist reading is suggested; according to which, the way the discourse of the Russian intervention has been presented in Russian media indicates the primary role of specific understanding of the ethical goals of Russian foreign policy. Specifically, the Russian military intervention in Syria is driven, according to the Russian discourse, by the need to present itself to the world as a “good actor” through a “just war.” Applying the method of qualitative discourse analysis, the thesis deconstructs the Russian narrative of intervention in the Syrian civil war through the Russian perspective. The results indicate the particular importance of the social function of war in Russian foreign policy – the importance of its performative and communicative aspect. Moreover, the result is a perceived conflict between two logics of understanding of the International – transcendental and local-centered – is revealed as a potential driving force of the modern tensions in the relationship between Russian and the West. As a result, a key problem in said relationship is the problem of communication: the lack of language both parties would understand. Without such a language, the actions of the opponent are continually interpreted, not from the perspective of the partner, but from the perspective of the viewer, which in the case of Russian-West discourse results in accusations of dishonesty and hypocrisy. Finally, the research highlights how the discourse of Syrian intervention is constructed and reflects the social function of war in Russia in general. This function of a “just war” (and any war in Russia is ‘just’ by default) is to serve as the moral cornerstone of the country’s identity, as the mechanism of consolidation and purification. It appears that the historical origins of this discursive model of war can be traced back to the period of World War II. In conclusion, this thesis suggests the need for the further studies of the connections between the ways identity is constructed linguistically in the narratives of foreign policy and decisions made by politicians. Another question of utmost importance is whether there is a substitution to war as a social mechanism of Russian society to experience its moral appropriateness and adherence to moral standards of justice.
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