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Why You Only Hear About Some Wars

Updated: Mar 15

Why are some wars reported on and funded by our government yet others remain in obscurity?

War has been and will always be a part of the human experience. In the modern day, a war can affect the lives of people a hemisphere away from the conflict.

As globalization increasingly weaves together economies and information, war has become more visible and impactful than ever. However, some of these wars receive more attention than others by international media and governments alike. Why is this?

Strategy is a central tenet of foreign policy, especially when it comes to wars. US strategic interests or the lack thereof largely determine which wars receive aid and public attention. Factors like historical and political relevance play a role as well, as regions unfamiliar to the public will not generate interest. 

The United States has an ethnically diverse demographic of citizens, leading to sections of the populace being uniquely invested in the political developments in certain regions. For example, there were many Irish Americans who supported the Irish Republican Army in its struggle against the UK government, despite the UK being a close ally.

This is the case for the war in Israel-Palestine in which a state (Israel) is combating a terrorist organization (Hamas) spawned by said state's humanitarian failures. Israel has an obvious value to US strategy in the contentious Middle East. Furthermore, both Israel and Palestine have active diasporas in the US, with inevitably different outlooks on the complicated situation. Through contentious public discourse, the conflict has attained a political and social relevance that may not have occurred otherwise.

The relevance of the Russo-Ukrainian War, in contrast, can be largely attributed to its economic impact and historical relevance. Economically, the war has greatly affected the global food market and the energy market. Historically, these nations were both key members of the Soviet Union and since its collapse, the United States and the West have had a vested interest in Ukrainian independence. A total of 47 Western nations have given hundreds of billions in aid to assist Ukraine in its war effort. 

Meanwhile, there are ongoing wars in Myanmar, Sudan, Yemen, Ethiopia and many other countries across the world. While each conflict is unique in origin and global impact, it is safe to say none of these possess political relevance in mainstream media or for U.S. foreign policy.

However, the situation in Yemen is changing after recent attacks on commercial ships in the Red Sea have led to the presence of the U.S. Navy and the announcement of Operation Prosperity Guardian. U.S. military intervention and the connection to the Israel conflict will draw a spotlight on the war in Yemen. 

The public consciousness is entranced by the 24-hour media cycle. A shortening public attention span, overbearing partisanship and the emergence of a multipolar world order have created a complicated and politicized environment for information. Unfortunately, the media will only cover wars that generate public interest and impact US foreign policy.

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


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