What is it about America and its twenty-first-century wars? They spread continually — there are now seven of them; they never end; and yet, if you happen to live in the United States, most of the time it would be easy enough to believe that, except for the struggle against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, there were no conflicts underway. Take the Afghan War, for an example. Now 15 years old and heating up again as the Taliban takes more territory and U.S. operations there grow, it was missing in action in the 2016 election campaign. Neither presidential candidate debated or discussed that war, despite the close to 10,000 U.S. troops (and more private contractors) still based there, the fact that U.S. air power has again been unleashed in that country, and the way those in the Pentagon are talking about it as a conflict that will extend well into the 2020s. It makes no difference. Here, it’s simply the war that time forgot. Similar things might be said, even if on a lesser scale, about expanding American operations in Somalia and ongoing ones in Libya. Nor is the intensity of the air war in Syria or Iraq much emphasized or grasped by the American public.
And then, as TomDispatch regular Rebecca Gordon, author of American Nuremberg, makes clear today, there’s the war that couldn’t be forgotten because, in essence, just about no one here noticed it in the first place. I’m speaking of the U.S.-backed Saudi war aimed significantly at the civilian population of desperately impoverished Yemen. It’s a conflict in which the actual American stake couldn’t be foggier and yet the Obama administration has supported it in just about every way imaginable, and it will soon be inherited by Trump and his national security crew. It could hardly be grimmer, more devastating, or more gruesome, and yet most of the time, from an American point of view, it might as well not be happening. There is evidently no good moment to bring up the subject of where American bombs are falling on our planet, so why not now?