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Do Some Wars Matter More?

Updated: Mar 24

Why do some wars absorb months of the U.S. news cycle, yet others are never mentioned and entirely unknown to most citizens? When you think of ongoing wars, you think of those in Israel-Palestine and Ukraine. Both situations have received intense focus from Western media, and in each case, a participant is being subsidized by the American government.

There are, however, other conflicts raging across the globe that do not receive such attention or funding. Why is this? Why is the war in Armenia not similarly covered? Why not the civil wars in Yemen, Myanmar, Ethiopia and Sudan? These wars result in people's freedoms being infringed upon and innocent lives being lost. Isn’t that what we care about?

Unfortunately, it seems that there is no strategic value for the U.S. in such endeavors. The outcome of the war in Myanmar will have little impact on U.S. policy in the region.

Similarly, Sudan and Niger have long been ravaged by constant conflicts, as has much of the African continent. The Western World, with all of its intent to protect freedom across the globe, has little to gain from these obscure wars. Israel and Ukraine, in contrast, are both strategically important. 

Israel is a nation that has long been subsidized by the United States and has been in the Anglo-American sphere of influence since its inception. It is the vital NATO ally in the contentious Middle East.

Furthermore, there are many members of Israeli and Palestinian diasporas in the United States. It is politically and culturally relevant in the zeitgeist, adding to debates on sovereignty, human rights, race and colonialism.

Meanwhile, Ukraine is the largest nation in Europe excluding Russia, has a massive agricultural economy and has for centuries served as the home of the Russian Navy. Its current war with Russia has greatly impacted the global food market, as well as energy markets in the West. Furthermore, intervention in Ukraine is an opportunity to impair US rival Russia’s regional influence, military capacity and political ambitions.

This phenomenon is not new. Historically, the defense of freedom has been the justification for US military aid or intervention. While the U.S. has arguably done well in this regard, the freedom shtick has often been a guise for assailing rivals. 

During the Cold War, the spread of communism served as the impetus for intervention. Different degrees of intervention occurred in countries like Korea, Cuba, Vietnam and Afghanistan.

Unpleasant methods were often used. Osama Bin Laden, who was allegedly trained and funded by the CIA to combat the Soviets in Afghanistan, went on to orchestrate the 9/11 attacks.

Was he an arbiter of freedom and human rights when fighting the Soviets? Surely he was not. The reality is that the United States takes every opportunity to undermine a rival national capacity, up to and including supporting Islamist extremism. 

The US does not intervene solely based on the status of a humanitarian disaster or an alignment with Western values. The US intervenes whenever it is convenient and opportune to do so. At least, this serves to explain the lack of aid or media coverage on the wars in Armenia, Yemen, Myanmar, Sudan and so on. 

Many will rightly condemn the refugee crisis in Palestine and Ukraine with conviction, yet make no effort to promote crisis awareness beyond these politically salient conflicts. Much of this can be attributed to the lack of media coverage of these wars.

Their relevance is reliant on the degree to which the US is involved. The result is inequality in coverage and support, and an implication that freedom and human rights are not the driving motivation for American national interest.  

Yes, it seems intuitive that the United States would be most concerned with conflicts that most directly impact the nation. However, if the West is truly looking to uphold universal human rights, the disparity in consciousness between relevant conflicts and ‘obscure’ ones should not exist. At the very least, it shouldn’t exist so dramatically.

There should be an international emphasis on the observance of all humanitarian crises, as well as an acknowledgment of the harsh realities of American global interest.   

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the individual author.

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