Give Other Wars the Same Attention We Give The Ukraine Conflict
November 9, 2022
It has been over eight months since the war in Ukraine began. These eight months have seen thousands die and millions displaced from their homes. While the war in Ukraine has undoubtedly been bloody, it has also been characterized as a war of information with unprecedented media coverage. In the United States, many outlets stress the importance of supporting Ukraine in what they see as a fight between democracy and authoritarianism.
The United States and the world must continue to report on Ukraine, but it should be noted that several other wars, many just as deadly, fail to receive adequate attention. These include the Myanmar Civil War, the Yemeni Civil War, and the Tigray War in Ethiopia. Have you heard of any of these? Chances are that you have not, unless you avidly keep up with current events.
The main difference between Ukraine and these other countries is that Ukraine is European. Many believe this makes the Russian invasion inherently deserving of more attention than the wars of developing countries. On February 26, CBS News senior correspondent Charlie D’Agata said, “[Ukraine] isn’t a place, with all due respect, like Iraq or Afghanistan that has seen conflict raging for decades. This is a relatively civilized, relatively European—I have to choose those words carefully, too—city where you wouldn’t expect that, or hope that it’s going to happen.”
The fact these wars are happening in developing countries does not change the brutality and death that those living there have faced. By neglecting those conflicts, we are saying that war is acceptable so long as it does not happen in European countries. The double standard is appalling.
Unfortunately, this double standard is not new. During the 1990s, the United States overlooked the Rwandan genocide, in which Hutus killed almost a million Tutsis, an opposing tribe. The U.S. public was anesthetized and did not have proper access or understanding of international news. Instead of putting an end to the horror of this genocide, they were preoccupied with the trial of O.J. Simpson.
Our ignorance is not entirely our fault. Mainstream news sources, including CNN and The New York Times, only intermittently cover these other wars, if at all. However, there are outlets, such as Al Jazeera, that regularly report on affairs in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia, shedding light on horrifying events that Western sources do not care enough about to report.
It is our responsibility to actively seek a balanced variety of sources that investigate what is happening in the world. As an analogy, if you were to open a world history book with chapters only on European history, it would condition you to inflate the importance of European history. We can not let this be the case when it comes to human life. Our ignorance must not condition us to inflate the importance of some lives over others.