Bonnie Kristian makes a very good observation about Russia and threat inflation:
The massive momentum of the U.S. military may presently be on the side of the inflaters, but the facts are on the side of the skeptics.
This is normally how it works. As we know, threat inflation typically relies on misrepresenting the facts, or presenting them in the most alarming way possible. If another state is behaving in a way that our government doesn’t like, sometimes the mere fact that it is displeasing is treated as proof of a dire threat. It doesn’t matter if the threat is a relatively minor, manageable one–it has to be cast as a threat to regional stability and “world order.” It doesn’t even matter if the U.S. and its allies are actually threatened by the behavior in question, since the assumption that the U.S. is a guarantor of “world order” dangerously makes any and every threat to anyone our problem.
Threat inflaters naturally aren’t interested in accurately assessing another state’s capabilities and intentions, but always look for ways to take relatively normal, self-interested behavior and make it seem especially sinister and extraordinarily dangerous. If the other state’s behavior is in fact more aggressive than it has been in the past, this is tendentiously read as proof of grand imperialist designs that “require” a massive military build-up or containment strategy. Inflaters also like to treat other states’ actions as unprovoked and driven by the obsessions of foreign leaders, and never consider the role that U.S. and allied actions may have in triggering undesirable behavior. Inflaters invent threats where there aren’t any, exaggerate the ones that do, and help to create new ones by urging aggressive policies to “respond” to the dangers they blow out of proportion.