Polling commissioned by NBC and the Wall Street Journal has apparently ‘revealed’ that a majority of Americans see Russia and Syria as “looming threats” to American security, with three quarters of those polled saying that Russia is a threat. However, user comments on the WSJ’s own article have found that most readers don’t buy the poll results.
The poll, conducted between October 15-18, asked 1,000 adults whether they believe that Syria and Russia “present a threat to the US.” The results seemed alarming, with 23% of respondents saying that Syria is “an immediate threat,” 56% answering that it would “likely [be] a threat soon,” and only 16% answering that it is “not a threat.”
Furthermore, if the polling is to be believed, Russia, a recognized global military power armed with nuclear weapons, was actually found to pose less of a threat than Syria, a country situated thousands of miles from the US and mired in a long and bloody civil conflict. 60% of those polled said that Russia poses a “long-term military threat,” 14% responded that Russia poses an “immediate” military threat, and, “just 23% said Russia is not a military threat.”
According to WSJ, “the poll results help explain the hawkish foreign policy positions being articulated on the 2016 presidential campaign trail,” with virtually all candidates Republicans and Democrats alike (with a couple exceptions, including Republicans Rand Paul and Donald Trump) pledging “a tougher stance” in relation to both Russia and Syria.
However, comments to the WSJ’s article suggest there may be something fishy with the figures.
A user named Peter angrily commented: “This is ridiculous. No one I know thinks Russia or Syria are ‘threats’ to the average citizen in the United States…I’d like to know how [the pollsters] compiled their list, because these opinions are out of left field.”
Another user with the nick ‘Be Very Afraid’ suggested that many Americans would find it difficult “to show Syria or Russia on the map, let alone think they are threats. What a joke!! We will be destroying ourselves with faulty immigration, social, economic and educational policy. Outside threats were created by neocons to justify spending trillions of taxpayers’ money.”
Another user joked that apparently, “fear sells and Halloween is almost here. Russian and Syrian disguises are popular” this year.
In a somewhat humorous turn of events, a lone Russian commentator named Dmitry joined the fray, making a very diplomatic proposal: “Hello Comrads! No one in Russia wants to war vs USA. NATO is not a target for us, but a threat. We want to cooperate, not fight. Let’s all live in peace and respect each other!”
So, what is it with this WSJ/NBC poll? Does the average Joe really believe that Russia, or even more preposterously, Syria, pose a threat to Americans?