WASHINGTON -- How misinformed are Republicans about world affairs? If presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney's assertion that Russia is "without question our number one geopolitical foe" is any indication, then the answer would appear to be very.
The poll, constructed by Dartmouth government professor Benjamin Valentino and conducted by YouGov from April 26 to May 2, found that fully 63 percent of Republican respondents still believed that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction when the U.S. invaded in 2003. By contrast, 27 percent of independents and 15 percent of Democrats shared that view.
Jim Lobe, chief of the Inter Press Service's Washington bureau, reported the finding in his blog on Wednesday.
The Bush administration's insistence that the Iraqi government had weapons of mass destruction and might give them to terrorists was a key selling point in its campaign to take the country to war. It turned out to be untrue.
Debate continues over whether former President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, and other top officials knew there were no WMD, but intentionally deceived the American people and Congress because they were intent on attacking Iraq for less palatable reasons -- or whether they managed to convince themselves that it was true using cherry-picked intelligence.
There is no reality-based argument that Iraq actually had WMD, after extensive searches found none, but this is hardly the first time many Americans have been certain of something that simply wasn't true.
A Washington Post poll in September 2003 found that nearly 70 percent of all Americans were convinced that Saddam Hussein was personally involved in the 9/11 terrorist attacks -- even though he was not.
Bush, Cheney and others consistently linked al Qaeda to Hussein in speeches they gave in the run-up to war, and the media rarely pushed back. But neither Bush nor Cheney continued to claim that there were actual WMDs in Iraq once the searches came up empty -- although they both continued to insist that Saddam had the "capability" to produce them.
Rather than a failure of the media, therefore, this latest poll result seems to indicate a refusal -- unique to the modern Republican Party -- to acknowledge facts.
According to this poll, an even larger proportion of Republican respondents who said Iraq had WMD -- 64 percent -- said they have either always believed (or have come to believe) that Barack Obama was born in another country, which he was not.
Overall, the poll found Republicans to be considerably more militaristic in their worldview than Democrats and independents.
In a finding that would indicate plenty of GOP support for yet another war in the Middle East, nearly two-thirds of Republicans said it's very likely that if Iran produces a nuclear weapon, it would use it against Israel.