The United States is the world’s sole remaining superpower, but Americans often seem so inward-looking as to be almost provincial. Foreigners often express wonder that American television news, for instance, spends fewer minutes covering the rest of the world than the rest of the world’s news shows spend covering America.
A result is that American attention seems both vitally important and frustratingly elusive.
But when the world asks why America has forgotten Yemen and other conflicts like it, that has the situation backward. The truth is that inattention is the default, not the exception.
Conflicts gain sustained American attention only when they provide a compelling story line that appeals to both the public and political actors, and for reasons beyond the human toll. That often requires some combination of immediate relevance to American interests, resonance with American political debates or cultural issues, and, perhaps most of all, an emotionally engaging frame of clearly identifiable good guys and bad guys.
Amanda Taub, “Why Some Wars Get More Attention Than Others”, The New York Times (2 October 2016), 8.