This makes sense to me:
According to one school of thought, this tendency to exaggerate the strength of our adversaries serves a specific psychological function. It is less scary to place all our fears on a single, strong enemy than to accept the fact our well-being is largely based on factors beyond our control. An enemy, after all, can be defined, analyzed and perhaps even defeated.
The notion that focusing our anger on a purportedly powerful foe helps mitigate our fears was first articulated by cultural anthropologist Ernest Becker in his 1969 book Angel in Armor. It has now been confirmed in a timely paper titled “An Existential Function of Enemyship,” just published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.A research team led by social psychologist Daniel Sullivan of the University of Kansas reports on four studies that suggest people are “motivated to create and/or perpetually maintain clear enemies to avoid psychological confrontations with an even more threatening chaotic environment.”