On Sunday, a US Navy F/A-18 shot down a Syrian Su-22, marking the first time in over a decade that the United States engaged in air-to-air combat. Syria claims that their aircraft was bombing ISIS troops. We have at attacked Syrian government forces no less than four times in the last month, causing tensions to swell in the complex conflict. Russia has responded by saying they will now possibly target aircraft from the US-led coalition. On the ground, it is estimated that anywhere from 500 to 2,500 American troops are fighting in Syria, despite the President’s claim that “we’re not going into Syria.”

Meanwhile President Trump has followed through with several arms deals that were started under President Obama, helping supply both Saudi Arabia and Qatar with billions of dollars in weapons and aircraft. This comes after Trump criticized Qatar’s alleged funding of terror organizations. Saudi Arabia faces its own allegations of relations with terrorists, all while running a salacious campaign to recruit American veterans to lobby on their behalf.

Those deals, as well as the Trump administration’s other actions in the Middle East, have worked to destabilize relations between many groups. Currently, icy relations surround Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Qatar, and Yemen, with Kurdish forces, al Qaeda, and ISIS all playing a major role in expanding conflict. All the while, the US and Russia are pulling strings to keep the region on edge, instead of providing a calming presence.

Let us not forget that the Pentagon is pushing to send thousands of additional troops into Afghanistan in order to force the Taliban back to the negotiation table. There are currently around 8,500 troops on the ground in Afghanistan. However, discussions within the Trump administration have mentioned anywhere from 4,000 to 50,000 more troops being sent to the country. The US is now saying that the reason things have gotten so bad with the Taliban, is because Russia is arming them.

These ‘minor’ conflicts have either garnered praise from the mainstream media or have gone largely unnoticed by the general public. If the US attacks a Syrian airfield, or drops a massive bomb in Afghanistan, news coverage is highly favorable, treating defense department footage as explosion porn. What does not get reported, is that the United States is killing an alarming number of civilians overseas. The watchdog organization Airwars says that almost 4,000 civilians have been killed by the US-led coalition in the Syrian Civil War.

Make no mistake about it, America is currently involved in a global war, and not just against terrorism. We have just been too distracted to notice. Under the guise of chasing terrorists, we are engaged in bringing about a dramatic redesign of the Middle East’s power structure, in direct competition with Russia, who is attempting to do the same. But do not mistake this for another Cold War, as America’s intentions for forcing the spread of Democracy and Western values through military might are clear. We are fighting Russian-backed Syrian forces, the Russian-backed Taliban, and we believe the Russian’s are behind the tensions surrounding Qatar.

Still, missing is the outrage and massive throngs of protesters. Sure, pockets of demonstrators will pop up after a major bombing, but aside from a rogue congressional leader or two, there is widespread support for the US to continue ramping up military action. Which is exactly the point.

Instead of engaging in an all-out campaign against a brutal dictator like Saddam Hussein, the Trump administration has decided to push the United States into armed conflict at a snail’s pace. The gradual nature of this dangerous war has rendered the American public numb to it. There is no declaration of war. There is no official start to the campaign or patriotic operation names, like ‘Enduring Freedom.’ No, what we’ve seen is a near-daily news blip that more bombs have been dropped and more troops have been deployed, before the mainstream media takes off on more coverage of the Russia scandal or the President’s ridiculous tweets.

Sure, there are forces at work overseas that are attempting to destroy our way of life. ISIS is a massive issue that must be dealt with military force. That is precisely why it is so confusing that we are playing a shell game with potential allies. ISIS is not just a problem for the United States, nor is the solution ours alone. If our country is indeed concerned with the rise of the Islamic State, then we must enlist the help of any country willing to join the fight.

But, ISIS is not the real reason the United States is engaged in these bloody conflicts. Instead, the disruption in the Middle East is simply a push for US-led regime change in places like Syria and now in Iran, as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is calling for regime change there, saying that the US’ policy is to push the “peaceful transition of that government.” In recent years, the United States failed to bring peace through the overthrow of government in Afghanistan, Libya, and Iraq. What is it that makes us think that we will find success in Syria, Iran, North Korea, or the Philippines?

The problem, of course, is that the corporate media and their adoring public are not really debating the topic of our role in reshaping foreign governments. Prior to our primary campaign in Iraq in 2003, the discussion surrounding our decision to remove Saddam Hussein from power was intense. It took misleading evidence and flat-out lies by organizations like The New York Times to shift public support for Saddam’s ouster.

It is truly amazing that with all of the disastrous policy moves pushed by the Trump administration, that overthrowing governments, killing thousands of civilians, and spending billions of dollars feeding the war machine wouldn’t be daily headline news.

But, there is a reason that the corporate media glosses over atrocities like this: advertising dollars. When you see an advertisement for Raytheon or Austal on TV, those commercials are not because you are likely to buy a guided missile or a combat ship. Those commercials were placed to buy influence in the media. Likewise, it should hardly be surprising when Congress will rapidly increase defense spending, as the lobbying dollars continue to roll in.

Whether it was Clinton, Bush, Obama, or Trump, American imperialism has been pushed by defense contracts and a deep-seeded desire to forcefully spread our values to other parts of the world. However, it is dangerous thinking to believe that peace will come through force, or even through subversive meddling on our part. History tells us that we, the United States, fueled the creation of al Qaeda, ISIS, and American hatred in the Middle East. We also know the arms we sell to these countries today will end up killing American troops in 15 years. It is a vicious cycle perpetuated by our elected officials, the media, and the lobbyists that have bought them both.

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Josh Gay is a political writer for the Ring of Fire Network. He is passionate about civil liberties and defending the Constitution. Josh looks forward to lively discussions via Twitter @ROF_Josh.