America at War: Infographic Reveals How the U.S. Military Is Operating in 40% of the World’s Nations

Earlier this month, NBC reporter and analyst William Arkin ended a 30-year career as a journalist, announcing in a “scathing letter,” Democracy Now! reports, that “he would be leaving the network. Arkin accuses “the media of warmongering while ignoring the, quote, ‘creeping fascism of homeland security.’” He does not equivocate in a follow-up interview with Amy Goodman. “The generals and the national security leadership" are also now, he says, “the commentators and the analysts who populate the news media” (Arkin himself is a former Army intelligence officer).

The problem isn’t only NBC, in his estimation, and it isn’t only supposed journalists cheerleading for war. Most of the conflicts the country is currently engaged in are un- or under-reported in major sources. His letter “applies to all of the mainstream networks, applies to CNN and Fox, as well…. We’ve just become so shallow that we’re not really able even to see the truth, which is that we’re at war right now in nine countries around the world where we’re bombing, and we hardly report any of it on a day-to-day basis.”




This isn’t the case with independent media organizations like Democracy Now!, The Intercept, or Airwars. Secular and religious refugee relief organizations like the International Rescue Committee, World Relief, or Muslim Global Relief are paying attention. Many of these organizations are non-U.S.-based or connected to the “civilian experts” Arkin says once appeared regularly in the national media and represented opposing views, “people who might be university professors or activists… or experts who were associated with think tanks.”

Airwars, affiliated with the Department of Media and Communications at Goldsmiths, University of London, has monitored conflicts around the world since 2014, with extensive coverage and records of alleged civilian deaths, military reports, and the names of victims. For a comparable U.S.-focused deep dive, see the Costs of War Project at Brown University’s Watson Institute of International & Public Affairs. The project’s website not only tracks the enormous economic costs of wars in the Middle East and Africa since 9/11; it also tracks “the human toll,” as you can see in the video below.

At the top of the post, see a map (view in a larger format here) from the Cost of War Project’s Stephanie Savell, 5W Infographics, and the Smithsonian of all the regions where the U.S. is “combatting terrorism.” While most of the media orgs and non-profits mentioned above would probably dispute the use of that term in some or all of the conflict zones, Savell sticks with the official language to describe the situation—one in which the nation “is now operating in 40 percent of the world’s nations," as she writes at Smithsonian.com.

Maybe no one needs an editorial to imagine the enormous toll this level of military engagement has taken over the course of 17 years since the inception of the “Global War on Terror.” The map covers the past two, illustrating “80 countries, engaged through 40 U.S. military bases,” and conducting training, exercises, active combat, and air and drone strikes on six continents. The selections, writes Savell, are “conservative,” and sourced from both independent and mainstream media outlets and international government and military sources.

“The most comprehensive depiction in civilian circles of U.S. military and government antiterrorist actions overseas,” the America at War map provides information we don't often get in our daily—or hourly, or by-the-minute—diet of news. "Contrary to what most Americans believe, the war on terror is not winding down.” It is expanding. Given the country’s history of sustained mass movements against legally suspect, grossly expensive wars with high civilian casualties, disease epidemics, starvation, and refugee crises, one would think that a sizable segment of the population would want to know what their country's military and civilian defense contractors are doing around the world.

via Smithsonian.com

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness


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  • Bill W. says:

    Strangely, the people upset by the subject-matter of this article are the same people who remained completely silent when our longest-serving wartime-President, Obama, bombed seven nations, and are UPSET Trump is pulling us out of Syria and Afghanistan. Who are the real “doves,” again?

  • Mark says:

    Bill W:
    Many are upset about Trump pulling out of Syria, not because we want to continue fighting there, but for the reason he is doing so. The motive appears to be linked to Trump’s support of Putin’s goals in the region, and a reduction of the USA’s influence there. Abandoning the Kurds should not be part of our foreign policy. Allowing Assad to do what he pleases against civilians is a mistake. Unfortunately, previous administrations got us into Syria but now we have to find a way to get out without causing even greater harm.
    Also- yes many were silent about Obama’s militaristic moves but many were not.

  • Ray Riley says:

    Exactly. Barack Obama is the only president in the history of the U. S. to be at war, every single day, for eight entire years. Bravo, Mr. Warmonger, dropper of tens of thousands of bombs! Strangely, OC and other statists were dead silent (no pun intended).

  • Dagwood says:

    This is absolutely false. There seems to be an assumption or accusation that if someone voted for, or generally approved of, Obama, s/he didn’t and wouldn’t criticize him. False! Many, many of us strongly opposed Obama policies, including the ones you mention. I am weary of these kinds of false accusations made, at least in part, to smear “liberals”. Similarly, many or most of us who are distressed at Trump’s Syria withdrawal announcement oppose the how of it. A sudden, impulsive, lie-based, ignorant, betrayal of allies and advisors alike, hawk and dove alike. Please, try to be accurate and not a Trump pawn.

  • Rock Brentwood says:

    The title is misleading and the article is committing a lie by omission (extreme cases in point: there are quite a few countries with military bases in the United States; another case in point: stationing in a country and fighting a supposed war in that country and two completely different things).

    For a more accurate (and correct) view

    List countries with overseas bases:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_with_overseas_military_bases

    List of ongoing armed conflicts:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_ongoing_armed_conflicts

    It will show you better what’s really going on, but will also show you that this is a common occurrence of all nation-states that have the ability to do it.

    The United States, like almost all other states today, is a member state of the United Nations — which is the official name (and continuation) of the World War II alliance. Part of the requirement of being a member of that organization is, thus, to provide any and all support possible, where it is needed and mandated. And I emphasize: *mandated*. If and when the situation calls for it, the UN Charter REQUIRES all member states to be involved, to whatever extent they are able to be.

    If anything, this is not a statement of belligerency, but of unity — everyone involved together in one capacity or another in the various conflicts (most notably, like those in Central Africa, or against ISIS in Syria, the Sinai, northern Africa, Afghanistan, Central Africa; etc)

    In some cases, countries may not be able to be directly involved (e.g. in the ISIS conflict or the conflict in Afghanistan) but can lend support, such as providing bases. In other cases, you have commitments by virtue of alliances (e.g. NATO) with bases stationed in anothers’ countries (e.g. the German base in the US). In other cases, by UN resolution, you have mandated action, like that in Korea, which has a large number of countries involved. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Korean_War

    But you don’t see any of that in the article, nor do you see how much of a difference the UN (and even its predecessor, the League of Nations) have made to virtually stamping out the plague of nearly-constant wars with massive slaughters that used to pervade this world before the 20th century.

    Because of the distortions, you all probably think that killings and wars are getting more frequent and worst. A DAMNED LIE! No they’re not. It’s the exact opposite (hello?!)

    In other words its authors (and most of its readers) were born too late to have a clue. To earlier times, where a single bad day on the battle field would equal the entire killing of a decade-long conflict like in Afghanistan … and prorate that against the population now (7-8 billion) versus then (1-2 billion) to get a true picture … to earlier times where a single civil war (the Tai Ping Rebellion), which made the US Civil War look like a picnic in the park by comparison, killed more people than all of World War I put together (and lasted 3 times longer); or a earlier time where the defeat of a city Baghdad would entail (as a matter of course and the more or less standard follow-up action of any conflict) the systematic slaughter and enslavement of its hundreds of thousands of occupants. In the few days following the defeat of Baghdad, the Mongols exterminated as many people as all the nuclear bombs used in war combined.

    A responsible journalist provides a broad survey of the issues underlying the topic(s) of the article and puts things into proper perspective so that you can get a better understanding of the issues; instead of the distortion of the Lie By Narrow Focus Of The Camera Lens, which is practically the definition of contemporary “news” media these days. For example: the citing of the related information about the UN, that I just filled in, as part of the larger picture. Not doing is a violation of the Journalists’ Code of Ethics.

    This is what’s wrong with the tabloids which pass themselves off as “news” (particularly those of the Cable networks, the so-called ‘cable news’ as well as other partisan ‘news’ outlets).

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