The Next Forgotten War: My Prediction

The term “forgotten war” is usually attached to the Korean War of 1950-1953. Sandwiched between World War II and the Vietnam War in the American experience, historians and commentators believe that the public memory has relegated the Korean War to the periphery. Perhaps. I saw last week an article that invoked the same term, using it to suggest that the current war in Afghanistan may go the way of the Korean War. I don’t agree. I think there’s a better candidate for the next Forgotten War.

It’s the Persian Gulf War of 1990-1991. Just last week, former President George H.W. Bush organized a special 30th anniversary conference of the war at Texas A&M University. Did you hear about it? I doubt it because media coverage lasted about a total of one minute. That tells me this war will soon be forgotten.

Why? Maybe it’s because it was very short in duration. Maybe it’s because there were thankfully so few American/allied casualties. Maybe it’s because that Saddam Hussein stayed in power and continued to thrive, at least in some fashion. Maybe it’s because some people felt the war was just about freeing oil-rich nations. Maybe it’s something else entirely. Whatever the case, I submit to you that this war could easily slip out of the American historical consciousness.  From the view of the veterans and their families, the drama of the historical story, and the lessons for the present and future, that’s very unfortunate.