Republicans want to bomb Agrabah, and other dumb ideas
Possibly the most important statement of the presidential campaign got ignored the other week. It was made by Donald Trump.
"Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on," a campaign press release said.
I'm not talking about the part of banning all Muslims entering the U.S.
That part got the attention it deserved. I'm talking about the last part of the sentence, "...until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on."
I find it both amazing that a presidential candidate can claim that we have no idea what we are doing, and can so readily admit complete ignorance about this critical issue, and not have anyone in the news media or other candidates call him out on it. It was simply acknowledged as a fact.
Americans ignorance of the rest of the world would be funny, except for the fact that we want to bomb the rest of the world.
Consider this latest survey. Scroll down to page 5
Would you support or oppose bombing Agrabah?
Support bombing Agrabah 30%
Oppose bombing Agrabah 13%
Not Sure 57%
If your reaction to this poll result is, "Where is Agrabah?" That's normal, if you don't watch Disney movies.
Agrabah is the country from the movie Aladdin.
Being ignorant of the world and wanting to bomb it, goes hand in hand. At least when it comes to Americans.
Consider this survey from last year.
We wanted to see where Americans think Ukraine is and to learn if this knowledge (or lack thereof) is related to their foreign policy views. We found that only one out of six Americans can find Ukraine on a map, and that this lack of knowledge is related to preferences: The farther their guesses were from Ukraine’s actual location, the more they wanted the U.S. to intervene with military force.
It isn't just Republicans. Consider this survey.
The Web site UsVsTh3m even created a game out of it. "Where's Damascus?" lets users drop a pin on a unmarked map to see if they know the location of Syria's capitol. Then they can compare their results with other players. The game went viral and UsVsTh3m found itself sitting on top of 65 guesses from inside the Pentagon.
"You’d expect folks in the U.S. Department of Defense to know the location of the place they’re probably about to bomb," write the authors. But "only 57 percent of the answers we got from inside the DoD were right."
Of course, the survey to beat them all was this one from last year.
A YouGov poll released Thursday finds that just about a third of Americans knew for sure that the U.S. hasn't conducted any recent strikes in Syria -- a possibility that has been weighed, but remains a hypothetical. Thirty percent thought that it had, while the remainder admitted they were unsure.
Personally I find the fact that only 45% of Americans knew that we were bombing Afghanistan, despite the fact that we've been at war in Afghanistan for 13 years to be the most disturbing fact.
Hardly anyone guessed that we were bombing Yemen despite the fact that our drones have been making regular strikes there for over a decade.
And consider that most people don't believe we are bombing Pakistan, a nuclear power, against the wishes of the Pakistani government, and have been doing so for over a decade, just shows how ignorant Americans are.
To borrow a phrase from Bill Maher, I propose a New Rule: You can't call for new military action unless you are aware of all the countries where we are currently killing people.
To complete this thought, let's see who Americans want to bomb.
The answer: almost everyone!
Americans have a right to remain ignorant, but that right ends when you start dropping bombs. Then it becomes irresponsible, stupid, and immoral.
American's ignorance extends beyond just geography.
In a recent survey almost three quarters could not correctly say why America fought the Cold War and "a quarter of Americans do not know the Earth circles the Sun."
In 2003, a US Strategic Task Force of Education Abroad report concluded that America’s ignorance of the outside world was so great as to constitute a threat to national security.
Not just national security. It's a threat to global security.