Smithsonian Magazine this month published a stunning map detailing just how expansive the post-9/11 “war on terror” has become, demonstrating that contrary to the common assumption that it’s “winding down” more than 17 years later, it actually continues to grow and has now spread to more than 40% of the world’s countries.
This includes American military and support personnel engaged in ongoing missions in 80 nations on six continents, according to Brown University’s Costs of War Project at the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs, which has recently calculated that since 2001 the US has spent $5,900,000,000,000 on war, mostly in places like Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Pakistan, and Yemen — where US military operations have become more or less permanent, with no consideration of ending them under any circumstances.
The map creators for The Smithsonian culled information from foreign government sources, published and unpublished reports, military websites and geographical databases, as well as foreign embassies and interviews with journalists and academics, according to Smithsonian.com.
And the authors of the study even note they were “conservative” in their numbers concerning US military and State Dept. personnel engaged in the “terror war” throughout the globe as of 2019.
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 also noted that US counter-terror operations abroad “are likely more extensive than this map shows,” especially as this is merely based on non-classified information.
The timing of the map’s publication this month is interesting given Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s “Force For Good” speech in Cairo on Jan. 10, wherein he lauded the US military as a “liberating” and progressive force for good for the Middle East: “For those who fret about the use of American power, remember this: America has always been and always will be a liberating force, not an occupying power. We’ve never dreamed of domination in the Middle East,” he said.
Pompeo asserted the US has never been “an empire-builder or an oppressor,” and noted at one point that “when the mission is over, when the job is complete, America leaves.”
But based on the above map, the now global American military machine doesn’t appear to be pulling back anytime soon, but will likely only continue its pattern of expansion, especially as the relatively young AFRICOM finds fresh conflicts on the African continent following the 2011 NATO war to oust Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.