FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Public vs. Media on War

A new poll from an unlikely source suggests that the U.S. public and the U.S. media have very little in common when it comes to matters of war and peace.

This poll was commissioned by that notorious leftwing hotbed of peaceniks, the Charles Koch Institute, along with the Center for the National Interest (previously the Nixon Center, and before that the humorously named Nixon Center for Peace and Freedom). The poll was conducted by Survey Sampling International.

They polled 1,000 registered voters from across the U.S. and across the political spectrum but slanted slightly toward older age groups. They asked:

“Over the last 15 years, do you think U.S. foreign policy has made Americans more or less safe?”

What, dear reader, do you say?

If you say less safe, you not only agree with dozens of top U.S. officials the week after they retire, but you agree with 52.5% of the people polled. Those who said “more safe” add up to 14%, while 25.2% said “about the same” and 8.3% just didn’t know.

Well, at least all these humanitarian wars to spread democracy and eliminate weapons and destroy terror have benefited the rest of the world, right?

Not according to the statistics that show terrorism on the rise during the war on terrorism, and not according to 50.5% of poll respondents who said U.S. foreign policy has made the world less safe. Meanwhile 12.6% said “more safe” while 24.1% said it was about the same and 12.8% didn’t know.

Asked about four wars in particular, registered U.S. voters said each of them had made the U.S. less secure, by a margin of 49.6% to 20.9% on Iraq, 42.2% to 18.9% on Libya, 42.2% to 24.3% on Afghanistan, and 40.8% to 32.1% on bombing ISIS in Syria.

These answers should not immediately be taken to prove that the U.S. public is universally wise and well informed, and (not coincidentally) at odds with U.S. media. Not only is that margin pretty slim on ISIS, but 43.3% of those polled said ISIS was the greatest threat the United States faces. Meanwhile 14.1% named Russia, 8.5% North Korea, 8.1% the national debt, 7.9% domestic terrorists, and bringing up the rear with the correct answer of global warming as the greatest threat were a grand total of 4.6% of those polled.

A survey of U.S. news reports would certainly suggest a point of agreement here between the public and the media. But here is where it gets interesting. Although the public believes the hype about danger emanating from these foreign forces, it does not favor the solution it is endlessly offered by the media and the U.S. government. When asked if, compared to last 15 years, the next president should use the U.S. military abroad less, 51.1% agreed, while 24.2% said it should be used more. And 80.0% said that any president should be required to get congressional authorization before committing the U.S. to military action, while 10.2% rejected that radical idea that’s been in the U.S. Constitution since day 1.

The U.S. public may look quite depressingly ignorant in a quick survey of Youtube videos, but check this out: Asked if the U.S. government should deploy U.S. troops on the ground in Syria 51.1% said no, compared to 23.5% who said yes. Only 10% said yes on Yemen, while 22.8% said no — however, 40.7% said the U.S. government should keep “supporting” Saudi Arabia in that war.

Good majorities also oppose Japan acquiring nuclear weapons, Germany acquiring nuclear weapons, or the U.S. defending Taiwan against a Chinese attack. (Who invents these scenarios?)

This moderately encouraging survey of public sentiment stands in stark contrast to U.S. media coverage of wars in general and Syria in particular. The New York Times’ Nicholas Kristof is ready for a bigger war as are columnists in the Washington Post and USA Today, as well as, of course Chuck Todd and other televised talking head. Meanwhile Hillary Clinton’s comment to Goldman Sachs that a “no fly zone” would require “killing a lot of Syrians” has received dramatically less press than her brave calls for creating a humanitarian no fly zone, and the steady depiction of that proposal as “doing something” — in contrast to the only other option: “doing nothing.”

The public, however, rejects the only “something” that’s on offer and just might leap at the opportunity to try something else, if anyone ever proposed anything else.

More articles by:

David Swanson wants you to declare peace at http://WorldBeyondWar.org  His new book is War No More: The Case for Abolition.

November 14, 2018
Charles Pierson
Unstoppable: The Keystone XL Oil Pipeline and NAFTA
Sam Bahour
Israel’s Mockery of Security: 101 Actions Israel Could Take
Cesar Chelala
How a Bad Environment Impacts Children’s Health
George Ochenski
What Tester’s Win Means
Louisa Willcox
Saving Romania’s Brown Bears, Sharing Lessons About Coxistence, Conservation
George Wuerthner
Alternatives to Wilderness?
Robert Fisk
Izzeldin Abuelaish’s Three Daughters were Killed in Gaza, But He Still Clings to Hope for the Middle East
Dennis Morgan
For What?
Dana E. Abizaid
The Government is Our Teacher
Bill Martin
The Trump Experiment: Liberals and Leftists Unhinged and Around the Bend
Rivera Sun
After the Vote: An Essay of the Man from the North
Jamie McConnell
Allowing Asbestos to Continue Killing
Thomas Knapp
Talkin’ Jim Acosta Hard Pass Blues: Is White House Press Access a Constitutional Right?
Bill Glahn
Snow Day
November 13, 2018
Patrick Cockburn
The Midterm Results are Challenging Racism in America in Unexpected Ways
Victor Grossman
Germany on a Political Seesaw
Cillian Doyle
Fictitious Assets, Hidden Losses and the Collapse of MDM Bank
Lauren Smith
Amnesia and Impunity Reign: Wall Street Celebrates Halliburton’s 100th Anniversary
Joe Emersberger
Moreno’s Neoliberal Restoration Proceeds in Ecuador
Carol Dansereau
Climate and the Infernal Blue Wave: Straight Talk About Saving Humanity
Dave Lindorff
Hey Right Wingers! Signatures Change over Time
Dan Corjescu
Poetry and Barbarism: Adorno’s Challenge
Patrick Bond
Mining Conflicts Multiply, as Critics of ‘Extractivism’ Gather in Johannesburg
Ed Meek
The Kavanaugh Hearings: Text and Subtext
Binoy Kampmark
Concepts of Nonsense: Australian Soft Power
November 12, 2018
Kerron Ó Luain
Poppy Fascism and the English Education System
Conn Hallinan
Nuclear Treaties: Unwrapping Armageddon
Robert Hunziker
Tropical Trump Declares War on Amazonia
John W. Whitehead
Badge of Shame: the Government’s War on Military Veterans
Will Griffin
Military “Service” Serves the Ruling Class
John Eskow
Harold Pinter’s America: Hard Truths and Easy Targets
Rob Okun
Activists Looking Beyond Midterm Elections
Binoy Kampmark
Mid-Term Divisions: The Trump Take
Dean Baker
Short-Term Health Insurance Plans Destroy Insurance Pools
George Wuerthner
Saving the Buffalohorn/Porcupine: the Lamar Valley of the Gallatin Range
Patrick Howlett-Martin
A Note on the Paris Peace Forum
Joseph G. Ramsey
Does America Have a “Gun Problem”…Or a White Supremacy Capitalist Empire Problem?
Weekend Edition
November 09, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Louis Proyect
Why Democrats Are So Okay With Losing
Andrew Levine
What Now?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Chuck and Nancy’s House of Cards
Brian Cloughley
The Malevolent Hypocrisy of Selective Sanctions
Marc Levy
Welcome, Class of ‘70
David Archuleta Jr.
Facebook Allows Governments to Decide What to Censor
Evaggelos Vallianatos
The Zika Scare: a Political and Commercial Maneuver of the Chemical Poisons Industry
Nick Pemberton
When It Comes To Stone Throwing, Democrats Live In A Glass House
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail