Wednesday 1 June 2022

Knowledge of International Affairs

The ignorant will despair at this one. 

Pew's latest survey finds that only 56% of Americans knew that Ukraine is not part of NATO.

Sure, we can wonder what the heck is wrong with the other 44%. Ukraine is at war with Russia. Russia invaded it. If Ukraine really were a NATO member, the collective security provisions would be invoked. NATO soldiers, fighters, tanks, ships and bombers would be directly involved in fighting. 

There wouldn't have be wondering about "Oh, can we really set a no-fly zone? Wouldn't that mean direct confrontation between allied and Russian forces that would trigger a broader war?" That cost would have been sunk. We'd probably have already seen nukes flying around rather than far-too-limited shipments of arms to Ukraine. 

And, more to the point, Russia would not have invaded if Ukraine were part of NATO.

Just what has to be wrong in your model of the world to even make it possible to believe that Ukraine is part of NATO? 

It seems unfathomable. 

Well, unfathomable except to those of us who are not ignorant about the ignorance revealed in public surveys of this sort.

Two years after the Cuban Missile Crisis that had NATO on the brink of nuclear war with the Soviet Union over the Soviets' attempted placement of nuclear weapons in Cuba, only 38% of Americans surveyed knew that the Soviet Union was not a member of NATO.

However screwed up people have to be to think that Ukraine might be part of NATO right now, how much more screwed up do you have to be in 1964 to fail to notice that a security agreement set to defend against the common Soviet enemy was not particularly likely to have the Soviet Union as a member?

I suppose what I'm saying is that, if anything, this latest survey is weak evidence of improvement and should be celebrated by those of us who had set our expectations appropriately, and despairing at the result is a bit of a tell about your own knowledge of the state of public knowledge. 

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