Late last month, reports began emerging claiming that Russia had been paying substantial bounties to the Taliban to kill US troops in Afghanistan. A new poll shows that 60% of Americans view that allegation as “believable.”
Claims Russia did something bad are usually easy to sell, and a claim repeated enough usually gets believed by many. Still, the evidence is not at all on the side of this particular allegation, which the Pentagon tried, and failed, to sell to the US intelligence community.
Centcom head Gen. Frank McKenzie says that when he heard the report it was “worrisome,” but that he’s still not clear anyone was killed on the basis of this. Moreover, he says the US did not change its Afghanistan operations.
It seems clear at this point it was never true, but the New York Times ran with the story, and ran hard, and the poll points to Americans buying the story.
The poll shows that they view Russian President Vladimir Putin as a “threat,” and support a new round of US sanctions against Russia. Alarmingly, 9% even supported attacking Russia outright.
This is undercut by the strong evidence that this plot isn’t true, and never was. The danger is, the US could escalate hostilities and the majority of the public is fine with it.