The location of Ukraine, Crimea is still assigned to Ukraine. Image: David Liuzzo
According to one poll, the propensity to bury military intervention appears to increase with growing (geographic) ignorance
The US government is putting enormous prere on the EU and Russia over Ukraine. The aim is to strengthen the transatlantic alliance and to isolate and weaken Russia. Even if, in terms of realpolitik, attempts are being made to get the crisis under control diplomatically, the media seems to be happy to stage the old confrontation between East and West again, even if interest has long since shifted to Asia and Africa. But how do the Americans see it?
According to polls, two-thirds of Americans say they are following events around Ukraine. However, this does not seem to mean that they know much about it, nor are many able to say where the events are taking place. Other polls show that Putin’s and Russia’s reputation has plummeted with the Ukraine crisis. From 1999 to the middle of last year, a majority regarded Russia as an ally or a friend. At the end of March, only 26 percent did so, while 68 percent saw Russia as an enemy.
According to a survey conducted by political scientists from Harvard and Princeton University at the end of March, only one in six Americans (16%) knows where Ukraine is, i.e. can identify the country on a map. The scientists asked to click on the situation on a high resolution map.
It is interesting to note that the desire for the U.S. to intervene militarily in the conflict seems to be stronger the more geographically the localization of Ukraine is missed. According to the authors, it can be amed that people who locate Ukraine in Eastern Europe are better informed than those who think the country is in South America or the Indian Ocean. Some have even located Ukraine in the USA, Canada or Alaska. Who does not even know where the Ukraine is located, could also have little knowledge about why a military intervention would be necessary here now and what it would achieve.
While most located Ukraine somewhere in Europe or Asia between Portugal and Kazakhstan, Sudan and Finland, an average of 2.900 km away. The younger are more accurate than the older, men more than women, "Independent" rather than Democrats and Republicans, those with a college degree did better than those without, but even of the latter 77 percent did not know you correct location. But the researchers did not just want to find out how good or bad geographic knowledge is, they wanted to see whether information that people have or don’t have also influences their attitudes about how the U.S. government should act.
In general, most Americans are undecided on how to act in Ukraine crisis. It is clear, however, that they are more in favor of non-military solutions. Thus, while 45 percent are in favor of excluding Russia from the G8 summit, i.e. are in favor of a G7 summit, only 13 percent are in favor of military intervention. But the farther respondents place Ukraine from their geographic location, the more likely they are to favor military intervention. And the more strongly they favor military intervention, the higher they rate the threat to U.S. interests from Russia and the more certain they are that the use of force will serve national security interests. Strangely enough, this is generally the case, even when the level of education is taken into account. The less precise the knowledge, the more aggressively they seem to want the U.S. government to intervene or to believe in a solution through force.