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

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.


Relat­ed Con­tent:

The His­to­ry of the U.S. Civ­il War Visu­al­ized Month by Month and State by State, in an Info­graph­ic from 1897

An Archive of 800+ Imag­i­na­tive Pro­pa­gan­da Maps Designed to Shape Opin­ions & Beliefs: Enter Cornell’s Per­sua­sive Maps Col­lec­tion

It’s the End of the World as We Know It: The Apoc­a­lypse Gets Visu­al­ized in an Inven­tive Map from 1486

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?

  • 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:

    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.

    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).

  • MuslimCharity says:

    Just few more days away for Ramadan. Sup­port Ramadan Appeal of Mus­lim Char­i­ty and help needy peo­ple.

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