A stunning map published this month by Smithsonian Magazine provides new details about the expansive nature of U.S. military involvement around the world as it relates to the post-9/11 “war on terror.”
Contrary to the narrative that the war is winding down, the map resembles a modern-day version of shows a U.S. military presence akin to the period when the the ‘sun never set on the British empire.’ Some 17 years after the war began, U.S. military presence globally is expanding and has now spread to more than 40 percent of the world’s countries.
By ‘presence,’ that includes U.S. military and support personnel who are currently engaged in 80 countries on six continents, according to Brown University’s Costs of War Project at the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs.
The project calculated recently that since 2001, the U.S. has spent more than $5.9 trillion on war, most of it in Afghanistan and Iraq but also Syria, Pakistan, and Yemen, where U.S. military operations are more or less permanent at this point with no prospects of ending them for any reason.
The map’s creators at Smithsonian gathered information from several foreign government sources as well as open-source and unpublished information including military websites, foreign embassies, geographical databases and interviews with academics and journalists.
What’s more stunning is that the authors believe the map shows a “conservative” estimate of numbers regarding the involvement of U.S. military and diplomatic personnel engaged in the war on terror as of 2019.
The map indicates this:
We found that, contrary to what most Americans believe, the war on terror is not winding down—it has spread to more than 40 percent of the world’s countries. The war isn’t being waged by the military alone, which has spent $1.9 trillion fighting terrorism since 2001. The State Department has spent $127 billion in the last 17 years to train police, military and border patrol agents in many countries and to develop antiterrorism education programs, among other activities.
The authors noted that U.S. special operations “are likely more extensive than this map shows,” because most of those ops are classified.
Publication of the map is timely in that President Donald Trump recently announced the withdrawal of all (estimated) 2,000 U.S. troops from Syria and half of the 14,000 U.S. military personnel in Afghanistan, for which he received pushback in congressional, diplomatic, and foreign quarters.