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Poll: Russians Fear the United States More than ISIS-Type Terrorists

poniblog-CC-BY-NC-SAponiblog-CC-BY-NC-SAAlthough the Obama administration not long ago hoped for a positive relationship "reset" with Russia, tensions between the United States and Russia have throughout this year continued to escalate to highs unseen since the Cold War. A poll published last week from the Russian Public Opinion Research Center indicates that because of this worsening relationship, more Russians believe the U.S. poses a terror threat to them than radical Islamists like ISIS do.

The center reports that 22 percent of Russians consider the U.S. to be "the main source of terrorist threats" to their nation. This is a dramatic spike from one year ago, when only 4 percent believed the U.S. was such a threat. Russian President Vladimir Putin gave a harshly anti-American speech on Friday, accusing the West of sponsoring terrorism in Russia. The polling data was gathered well-before the speech, but the nation's media is largely government-controlled, and the government has been raising a specter of U.S. meddling for months.

Just as interesting is how this compares to the perceived threat of other groups. America's biggest bogeyman might by ISIS, but only 16 percent (a 3 percent rise) believe Islamic terror groups are the main danger to Russia. This seems surprisingly low, since ISIS issued a video directed at Putin, warning that they are "on [their] way" to Russia to remove him from power and to "liberate Chechnya and the Caucusus." Local threats from the contentious Caucusus has dropped from 20 percent to a mere 3 percent. A terror attack in Chechnya killed five police officers and injured a dozen other people earlier this month, but that was after the polling data was collected.

Also interesting is that for the first time, Russians fear a terror attack from Ukraine, a nation that Russia has been invading for much of this war. Seven percent believe the neighboring state poses a threat even though, as the independent Moscow Times points out, Russian-state propaganda has presented Ukraine as a monstrous fascist entity.

Polls by many organizations throughout the year have shown Putin's approval rating among their highest ever, in spite of an economy that is on the verge of recession. His government has unfortunately reversed a trend toward liberalization and is cracking down on homosexuals, political dissidents, and religious minorities. Emigration out of Russia has spiked in the last two years, though Russians are less inclined to come to the U.S. than they were in the '90s or early 2000s.

Recently, when a Fox News host fantasized that America's anti-terror operations would benefit a strong-man leader like Putin, I pointed out that Russia has had a destructive domestic terror war that has never really ended – last year over 600 terror crimes were reported in the unstable regions.

Not all Russians buy into the Putin administration's fear-mongering. Read Reason interviews with prominent Russian libertarians here and here

Photo Credit: cc

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  • DJF||

    I am an American and I fear the US government more then ISIS terrorists.

  • DJF||

    Also the US government was founded by people who feared the US government more then foreign terrorists, that is why they did not want a standing army.

  • Cytotoxic||

    They may not have wanted it but we still needed it.

  • DJF||

    Need it for what?

    Its been mostly used offensively to push some peoples interests around the world, not to defend the US.

    Lets look at since 1945. Korea, no threat to the US, the same with Vietnam.

    Gulf War I, making the world safe for Kuwait dictatorship

    Gulf War II, making the world safe for Islamists

    Afghanistan, nation building in a place which never was a nation while ignoring Osama in a country next door.

  • Cytotoxic||

    Way to cherry-pick. Psst: Korea wasn't the threat, global communism was.

    There is no substitute for a standing military as the US found out in 1812. Not having one is ridiculous. May as well stick an 'invade me' sign on your country.

  • DJF||

    Communism could not even feed itself without repeated help from the US.

    As shown by China which would be a basket case like North Korea without the trillions of dollars and technology the US has given them.

    As to the War of 1812, Yes the US failed in invading Canada but did defend itself with mostly militia. Not invading Canada would have solved that problem.

  • Cytotoxic||

    As shown by China which would be a basket case like North Korea without the trillions of dollars and technology the US has given them.

    "Given"? What are you talking about?

    As to the War of 1812, Yes the US failed in invading Canada but did defend itself with mostly militia. Not invading Canada would have solved that problem.

    You forgot the part where Canada invaded and held parts of America and where the British Empire provoked the republic into war. More cherry-picking.

  • ||

    Yeah, how about that, I feel the same way.

  • Cytotoxic||

    The Russian people are just a very backward lot. The decades of communism and post-communist despotism has left them 'changed' possibly even at a biological level. The only thing for a Russian libertarian to do is leave Russia and come back only after Russia falls apart like the USSR did.

  • paranoid android||

    The Russian people are just a very backward lot. The decades of communism and post-communist despotism has left them 'changed' possibly even at a biological level.

    Let's not give their "new socialist man" nonsense any more credit than it deserves.

  • Cytotoxic||

    The 'new socialist man' exists. North Korea made him: he's shorter than his South Korean match due to physical and mental stunting induced by NK standards of living. No joke.

  • A Secret Band of Robbers||

    And they basically all have deep seated psychological issues that no amount of therapy and drugs can fix.

  • jmomls||

    *The decades of communism and post-communist despotism has left them 'changed' possibly even at a biological level.*

    More like the CENTURIES of being serfs.

    Commies didn't help, but even they were seen as a step up from feudalism.

  • John Titor||

    Not to mention the Golden Horde blocking them off from Europe for a couple centuries, stagnating them just when Europe was getting its shit together.

  • Acosmist||

    They're scared of Obama? Wow, what happened over there to make them such cowards?

  • John Titor||

  • John Titor||

    I can't really blame them, considering that some Americans/some Westerners continue to treat them as the 'special' enemy of the free world. Remember before Sochi, all those movements to boycott the Olympics and move them somewhere else due to the Russian policy on homosexuals? These people weren't whining about the repressive state policies of the Chinese towards religious and political minorities before the Beijing Olympics. I know some Russians who were seriously pissed off that their country was being 'demonized' while China got very little attention.

    That being said it's not like the Russian government isn't oppressive and nasty, it's just the undue attention in contrast to, say, Tom Friedman articles on China.

  • Robert||

    Feiffer wrote that Russia isn't China, only China is China. China for reasons I don't know has long been patronized by the USA. Meanwhile over the period the USA has existed, Russia has been mostly friendly.

  • John Titor||

    That deal with tsarist Russia for Alaska worked out pretty well. I can understand 'elites' ignoring China today due to economic and business connections, but I don't understand the 'little people' who moan about Russian homophobia on facebook while Chinese human rights violations are nothing. It obviously has something to do with homosexuals being a recognized minority group in the west while Falun Gong isn't well known, but I do think there's more to it.

  • grrizzly||

    First, the Olympic torch relay for Beijing 2008 was repeatedly disrupted in the West. So, it's incorrect to claim that nobody tried to raise the issue of human rights abuses in China. See http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04......html?_r=0

    Shouting “Shame on China!” and waving Tibetan flags, pro-Tibetan demonstrators and others protesting Chinese human rights abuses turned the running of the Olympic torch through the streets here on Sunday into a tumult of scuffles. The police said that one man broke through a tight security cordon and made a failed grab for the torch, and that 35 people were arrested.

    Second, the Russians are white, therefore their homophobia is inexcusable. The Chinese are not, the same standards do not apply to them.

  • John Titor||

    You're correct, I should have qualified that there was some complaints and protests about Chinese rights abuses before the Olympics. What I meant to say was that there was nothing on the same scale as the Sochi complaints, i.e. no pathetic celebrities chiming in, major online petitions or people actively comparing Russia to bloody Nazi Germany in 1936.

  • Zeb||

    Well, there is "Free Tibet". So there is some high profile criticism of Chinese violations.
    But it is true that the Chinese seem to get less condemnation on a lot of things. It's surprising how many people seem to think that the one child policy, for example, is a good idea.

  • jmomls||

    *I can't really blame them, considering that some Americans/some Westerners continue to treat them as the 'special' enemy of the free world.*

    I can blame them because it's a stupid mindset. Tell me, how many Russians have Americans killed since 1945 and many Russians have been killed by Muslims since then?

  • John Titor||

    How many Muslims pointed atomic weapons at them for over fifty years, threatening to destroy them/the whole world? Bear in mind this view is perfectly applicable to the American view of Russians as well.

  • John Titor||

    And shockingly, some people may consider the state with a massive military complex and gradual slide towards authoritarianism to be a greater threat to them than a bunch of ignorant radicals with fertilizer bombs.

  • Zeb||

    Yeah, but those Muslims were mostly also Russians.
    But I agree that it is a stupid mindset. The US is not a threat to Russia. Certainly not militarily. Not to say that we couldn't be, but even those with massive war boners aren't stupid enough to start a war with an enemy that large and well armed.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    I am an American and I fear the US government more then ISIS terrorists.

    That pretty much covers it.

    [Insert reference to petulant child who at any moment is likely to start smashing your Waterford crystal with a hammer.]

  • vonPeterhof||

    Haven't read the article in detail yet, but it's darkly ironic that Reason's tweet linking to this post came up on my feed immediately before one from a Russian opposition news source, with the headline stating that a Russian engineer has been killed by ISIS...

  • Paul.||

    Russians Fear the United States More than ISIS-Type Terrorists

    Me too!

  • libertreee||

    Reason continues to take a favorable view of most "Colored" Revolutions. It fails to account for the encircling of Russia by Nato for no good reason. Alone among libertarian publications it brushes over US regime change in Ukraine. It publishes articles by Cathy (Blame Putin first) Woods who downplays the Nazi influence in Ukraine and overplays supposed influence in Russia. For the first time since WWII soldiers with Nazi insignias on uniforms were fighting in Europe! The Odessa massacre is not mentioned. What Russian invasion? Do not expect an official report on the shot down aircraft because it will likely implicate the Ukrainians, who targeted their own people by wanton shelling of its cities. Hong Kong as well. Why should a libertarian care about democracy and voting so long as liberties are respected?

  • Citizen Nothing||

    You forgot contrails.

  • jmomls||

    *Reason continues to take a favorable view of most "Colored" Revolutions. It fails to account for the encircling of Russia by Nato for no good reason.*

    No good reason. LOL.

    The E. European Nations formerly known as the Warsaw Pact of Captive Nations says "Hi", dolt.

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