The Rooskies Are Out to Get Us!

| Fri Aug. 15, 2008 1:20 PM EDT

I noted in an AFP story about how Obama's vacation hasn't hurt his poll numbers that "59 percent of Americans regard Russia's actions in Georgia as a threat to US national security."

Seriously? I'm shocked by this. We have the strongest military in the world, albeit a bit overstretched at the moment, and the fanciest weapons in the world. We don't need to be afraid of a bunch of thugs performing a ritual chest-beating by pushing around their neighbors.

Here are my potential explanations.

(1) A wide swath of people will always have some degree of fear of an aggressive other and when egged on by a leading poll question will say answer in the affirmative to a query like this one. In this explanation, over 50 percent of people would have answered in the affirmative in regards to a similar situation 20, 30, or 40 years ago.

(2) America is spooked. Eight years of terror warnings, supposedly imminent threats, unchecked terrorist watch lists, draconian security measures, rouge rogue nations getting or pursuing nuclear bombs, and stuff like this has turned us into a bunch of pusillanimous ninnies. We're jumping at shadows.

(3) Everyone or most everyone in the 59 percent mentioned above was born before 1980 and thus has strong memories of the Cold War. These people, unlike their younger countrymen, will always be distrustful of the Russians and ascribe devious but nonsensical motives to them.

If you were liberal arts student in college, you know the answer is some combination of (1), (2), and (3).

Also, I should add that Americans think lots of bizarre things. A poll from the late '90s showed that 65% of Americans think an alien spaceship crashed at Roswell in 1947. Further, 80% think the government is hiding knowledge of space aliens.