My reaction was: Since when is precise, granulated geographical knowledge some sort of prerequisite for deciding what’s right in foreign policy generally or for Ukraine specifically?
Unfortunately for the U.S., there is no such prerequisite for the general public or for politicians in Washington. No one could look back at the last twenty years of U.S. involvement overseas and conclude that we have been following the lead of particularly well-informed and knowledgeable people. By itself, the survey doesn’t tell us “what’s right,” but it does suggest that a lack of accurate information makes people more susceptible to alarmist and demagogic rhetoric about the need for taking “action” in response to a foreign crisis. The results of the survey also suggest that the public would probably be even less supportive of punitive measures if they had a better understanding of where the crisis was taking place. It’s true that many people that don’t want the U.S. to get involved in Ukraine also can’t correctly find the country on the map, but at least in their case they don’t favor hard-line measures without first knowing basic facts about the place. Those favoring an activist role in a foreign crisis have a greater obligation to understand the country in which they wish the U.S. to become involved, but it is unfortunately only too common among them to substitute certainty about “what’s right” for understanding of the relevant issues.