War, what is it good for? In America, the answer is that, much of the time, you’ll probably never know what it’s good for — or, in some cases, even notice that we’re at war. Right now, the U.S. is ever more deeply involved in significant conflicts in Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Libya, and increasingly Yemen — at least five ongoing wars in the Greater Middle East. Yet, in the midst of Election 2016, with the single exception of the long-proclaimed, long-awaited Iraqi-Kurdish offensive against Islamic State militants in the city of Mosul (with U.S. advisers on the frontlines and U.S. Apache helicopter crews in the air), the rest of our spreading military actions might as well be taking place on Mars.
The Taliban has recently attacked two Afghan cities and is gaining ground nationwide; Afghan military casualties have been soaring; and American planes and advisers have been let loose there in a fashion unseen since 2014. Neither presidential candidate has offered a peep on the subject, nor has there been a question about that now-15-year-old war in any of the “debates.” (They must be rigged!) In Syria, the U.S. air campaign continues, largely unnoticed, while Washington tries to broker a deal between the Turks and the Kurds (thinkHatfields and McCoys) for an offensive to take ISIS’s “capital” Raqqa. (Good luck on that twosome working together!)
The New York Times recently described the expanding but under-the-radar American war against the al-Shabab terror movement in Somalia this way: “Hundreds of American troops now rotate through makeshift bases in Somalia, the largest military presence since the United States pulled out of the country after the ‘Black Hawk Down’ battle in 1993… It carries enormous risks — including more American casualties, botched airstrikes that kill civilians and the potential for the United States to be drawn even more deeply into a troubled country that so far has stymied all efforts to fix it.”