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.

Weekend Edition
September 21, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Alexandra Isfahani-Hammond
Hurricane Florence and 9.7 Million Pigs
Andrew Levine
Israel’s Anti-Semitism Smear Campaign
Paul Street
Laquan McDonald is Being Tried for His Own Racist Murder
Brad Evans
What Does It Mean to Celebrate International Peace Day?
Nick Pemberton
With or Without Kavanaugh, The United States Is Anti-Choice
Jim Kavanagh
“Taxpayer Money” Threatens Medicare-for-All (And Every Other Social Program)
Jonathan Cook
Palestine: The Testbed for Trump’s Plan to Tear up the Rules-Based International Order
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: the Chickenhawks Have Finally Come Back Home to Roost!
David Rosen
As the Capitalist World Turns: From Empire to Imperialism to Globalization?
Jonah Raskin
Green Capitalism Rears Its Head at Global Climate Action Summit
James Munson
On Climate, the Centrists are the Deplorables
Robert Hunziker
Is Paris 2015 Already Underwater?
Arshad Khan
Will Their Ever be Justice for Rohingya Muslims?
Jill Richardson
Why Women Don’t Report Sexual Assault
Dave Clennon
A Victory for Historical Accuracy and the Peace Movement: Not One Emmy for Ken Burns and “The Vietnam War”
W. T. Whitney
US Harasses Cuba Amid Mysterious Circumstances
Nathan Kalman-Lamb
Things That Make Sports Fans Uncomfortable
George Capaccio
Iran: “Snapping Back” Sanctions and the Threat of War
Kenneth Surin
Brexit is Coming, But Which Will It Be?
Louis Proyect
Moore’s “Fahrenheit 11/9”: Entertaining Film, Crappy Politics
Ramzy Baroud
Why Israel Demolishes: Khan Al-Ahmar as Representation of Greater Genocide
Ben Dangl
The Zapatistas’ Dignified Rage: Revolutionary Theories and Anticapitalist Dreams of Subcommandante Marcos
Ron Jacobs
Faith, Madness, or Death
Bill Glahn
Crime Comes Knocking
Terry Heaton
Pat Robertson’s Hurricane “Miracle”
Dave Lindorff
In Montgomery County PA, It’s Often a Jury of White People
Louis Yako
From Citizens to Customers: the Corporate Customer Service Culture in America 
William Boardman
The Shame of Dianne Feinstein, the Courage of Christine Blasey Ford 
Ernie Niemi
Logging and Climate Change: Oregon is Appalachia and Timber is Our Coal
Jessicah Pierre
Nike Says “Believe in Something,” But Can It Sacrifice Something, Too?
Paul Fitzgerald - Elizabeth Gould
Weaponized Dreams? The Curious Case of Robert Moss
Olivia Alperstein
An Environmental 9/11: the EPA’s Gutting of Methane Regulations
Ted Rall
Why Christine Ford vs. Brett Kavanaugh is a Train Wreck You Can’t Look Away From
Lauren Regan
The Day the Valves Turned: Defending the Pipeline Protesters
Ralph Nader
Questions, Questions Where are the Answers?
Binoy Kampmark
Deplatforming Germaine Greer
Raouf Halaby
It Should Not Be A He Said She Said Verdict
Robert Koehler
The Accusation That Wouldn’t Go Away
Jim Hightower
Amazon is Making Workers Tweet About How Great It is to Work There
Robby Sherwin
Rabbi, Rabbi, Where For Art Thou Rabbi?
Vern Loomis
Has Something Evil This Way Come?
Steve Baggarly
Disarm Trident Walk Ends in Georgia
Graham Peebles
Priorities of the Time: Peace
Michael Doliner
The Department of Demonization
David Yearsley
Bollocks to Brexit: the Plumber Sings
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail