War for Dummies

Sorry for the headline if it got you hoping for a quick 1-step guide on how to bomb a country without breaking a sweat. I didn’t actually mean that I could teach a dummy to wage a war. I meant that only dummies want to wage wars.

Need proof?

Check out a recent Washington Post report.

Now there I go misleading you again.  While it’s true that the editors of the Washington Post are often dummies and often want wars to be waged, that’s not what I mean right now.  I think members of the U.S. government and its obedient media constitute an important but tiny exception to the rule this report points to.

The facts as reported on April 7th are these:

  • 13% of us in the United States want our government to use force in Ukraine;
  • 16% of us can accurately identify Ukraine’s location on a map;
  • the median error by Americans placing Ukraine on a map is 1,800 miles;
  • some Americans, based on where they identified Ukraine on a map, believe that Ukraine is in the United States, some say it’s in Canada, some Africa, some Australia, some Greenland, some Argentina, Brazil, China, or India;
  • only a small number believe Ukraine is in an ocean.

And here’s the interesting bit:

“[T]he further our respondents thought that Ukraine was from its actual location, the more they wanted the U.S. to intervene militarily. Even controlling for a series of demographic characteristics and participants’ general foreign policy attitudes, we found that the less accurate our participants were, the more they wanted the U.S. to use force, the greater the threat they saw Russia as posing to U.S. interests, and the more they thought that using force would advance U.S. national security interests.”

I take this to mean that some people believe that attacking Alaska or the continental United States (where they believe Ukraine to be located) will advance “U.S. national security interests.”  This suggests one of two things: either they believe the United States would be better off bombed (and perhaps suicidal tendencies account for some of the staggering stupidity reported by the Washington Post) or they believe the United States is located in Asia or Africa or somewhere other than where they’ve indicated that Ukraine is on the map.

I also take this report to mean the following: ignorant jackasses are the only statistically significant group that wants more wars.  Virtually nobody in the United States wants a U.S. war in Iran or Syria or Ukraine.  Nobody.  Except for serious hardcore idiots.  We’re talking about people who can’t place Ukraine in the correct landmass, but who believe the United States should go to war there.

People informed enough to find Ukraine on a map are also informed enough to oppose wars.  People who can’t find Ukraine on a map but possess an ounce of humility or a drop of decency also oppose war.  You don’t have to be smart to oppose wars.  But you have to be an unfathomably ignorant jackass to favor them.  Or — back to that exception — you could work for the government.

Why, I wonder, don’t pollsters always poll and report sufficiently to tell us whether an opinion correlates with being informed on an issue?  I recall a poll (by Rasmussen), tragic or humorous depending on your mood, that found 25% of Americans wanting their government to always spend at least three times as much on its military as any other nation spends, while 64% said their government spends the right amount on the military now or should spend more.  This only gets tragic or humorous if you are aware that the United States already spends much more than three times what any other nation spends on its military.  In other words, large numbers of people want military spending increased only because they don’t know how high it is already.

But what I want to know is: Do the individuals who have the facts most wrong want the biggest spending increases?

And I wonder: do pollsters want us to know how much opinions follow facts? If opinions follow factual beliefs, after all, it might make sense to replace some of the bickering of pundits on our televisions with educational information, and to stop thinking of ourselves as divided by ideology or temperament when what we’re divided by is largely the possession of facts and the lack thereof.

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  • Gregg Weber

    Where is the Sudetenland and what does that have to do with anything?

    • Yulek

      In Sudetes mountain range which is in central Europe which partly belongs Poland now, partly to Czech Republic, and in a small part to Germany, “Sudetenland” is today entirely in Czech republic. It has little to do with anything today, although if I remember correctly “Sudetenland” was annexed by Germany in 1938 under similar pretense, that Crimea was annexed by Russia this year. However, there are significant differences. Anyway, you should know, that comparing Adolf Hitler and Germany before 2nd World War with Putin and todays Russia is a clear mark of an idiot, who knows nothing about history and how to use the knowledge contained within it. If you want to know more, read Wikipedia

      • Gregg Weber

        The only difference I know of is that the germans in the Sudetenland were being persecuted or harmed by the poles according to the false propaganda put out by the germans. Crimea people are mostly russian supporting people and voted against the current “president”.
        But where did these russian supporting people come from if not the Ukraine? After Stalin killed off the ukranians during the famine of 1932 the land was populated by russians. Of course they would support the russians.
        Those are the significant differences I can think of.
        Comparing people and events helps to learn from history to help history not repeating itself.

        • Griebel

          Except that didn’t happen. Look back at the primary sources for the supposed forced starvation of the Ukraine: British intelligence agent and hack-academic Robert Conquest and arch-right-wing media mogul William Randolph Hearst.

          You guys do need to realize that no one does orchestrated and institutionalized historical smear campaigns like the good old U.S. of A. It was a hoax.

          • Gregg Weber

            We can trade reports etc. from now till the next blood moon but that won’t convince either of us.

            However those that don’t know will read and form an opinion based on what is here.

            Here is a Wikipedia article on a US Commission on the Ukraine Famine. You’re right. If this had not gone my way, I would have tried to find enough that would go my way, just as you might have done. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U.S._Commission_on_the_Ukraine_Famine

  • Arnold Lockshin

    Oh, boy, another war. That’ll get people’s minds off of Obamacare.

  • “[T]he further our respondents thought that Ukraine was from its actual location, the more they wanted the U.S. to intervene militarily.”…which means IDIOTS are easier to trick into war by the 1%/politicians/media than intelligent people.

  • “ignorant jackasses are the only statistically significant group that wants more wars.”

    That’s the entire population of fake conservatives!

  • Mangus Stern

    Swanson needs to keep his antiwar screeds directed at predatory capitalist America, and keep it there.
    Perception of foreign or domestic policy in the USA is articifically controlled. Polling (or blogging) is an inexpensive method of bulk survelliance attenable to the effectiveness of 24/7 propaganda. Remember, US Power does war as rule not an exception – to hell of what the people think. Dulles, Casey. Kissinger, et al – all of the names resonate with distant corporate genocide in America’s 20th century moment. The closer the CIA’s Swanson comes to changing perception is when the current status quo is faced with terminal environmental holocaust, and is forced to drop their weapons, economic and military. Big oil is still the world’s gravest terrorist threat, and Capitalism remains the problem.

  • SupernaturalCat

    !!!

    “I also take this report to mean the following: ignorant jackasses are the only statistically significant group that wants more wars. Virtually nobody in the United States wants a U.S. war in Iran or Syria or Ukraine. Nobody. Except for serious hardcore idiots. We’re talking about people who can’t place Ukraine in the correct landmass, but who believe the United States should go to war there.

    People informed enough to find Ukraine on a map are also informed enough to oppose wars. People who can’t find Ukraine on a map but possess an ounce of humility or a drop of decency also oppose war. You don’t have to be smart to oppose wars. But you have to be an unfathomably ignorant jackass to favor them. Or — back to that exception — you could work for the government.”