Do Americans Regard Russia as a Serious Threat?

A CNN poll in March, 2014 asked that kind of question to 801 adult Americans.

The results show a big jump in the numbers of Americans who think Russia is a serious threat.

In June 2009, 31% saw no threat at all. That fell to 12% in 2014, as people changed their minds. In June 2009, 39% thought Russia was a moderately or very serious threat. That’s jumped to 69%.

Russia’s involvement in Ukraine has to be the key actual event that has led to this change. I use the word “led” not “caused” on purpose, because we do not know what kinds of factors result in people changing their minds. They’d have to be aware of Ukraine and then in some way they’d have to connect Russian involvement in Ukraine to a threat to America. I contend that the White House and the main stream media supply the propaganda that creates the connection of Russian involvement in Ukraine to a threat to America. Every action taken or statement made by U.S. officials with respect to Ukraine and Russia reinforces the propaganda story and vice versa. All that’s required is a stream of such actions and statements in order to induce a different poll result in which Russia is seen as much more of a threat.

The propaganda makes critical thought unnecessary in most of the public; propaganda is the lowest cost method for most people to accommodate their thinking to the key actual events that they are hearing about. Propaganda supplies them with ready made opinions, and that’s what CNN records in its polls. A poll like this doesn’t express independent opinion based on a thoughtful assessment that looks at a broad range of news and interpretation.

If Russia and the Ukraine actually made a difference to American security, then this argument would fall. What I call propaganda would be truth, and American fears would be justified. However, the White House hasn’t presented any evidence that events in Ukraine affect the security of Americans. Lawyers know full well how to make cases, very extensive and tightly-reasoned cases in briefs, and the lawyers running the U.S. government have made no such case demonstrating that Russia is any kind of serious threat to America.

While propaganda can be very effective in shaping opinion, the public is not mindless. Over time as more information accumulates and spreads, opinions may become more independent. Approval may change to disapproval, or the reverse. This, however, requires a certain level of concentration to be maintained on a given issue over time. This condition often fails because the government has the capacity to keep changing issues and directing attention to different focal points.

A government with great powers such as America’s federal government is exceedingly dangerous because of this power to control the agenda it places before the public. It has become even more dangerous now that television and the press are so subservient to the government and function as transmission belts for its propaganda.


6:03 pm on July 26, 2014