PUL-E ALAM, AFGHANISTAN - MARCH 31, 2014: Soldiers with the U.S. Army's 2nd Battalion 87th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division rest along a ridgeline following a patrol up a mountainside near Forward Operating Base (FOB) Shank. The primary mission of soldiers with the 10th Mountain Division stationed at FOB Shank is to advise and assist Afghan National Security Forces in the region. They patrol outside the FOB to deter enemy rocket attacks on the FOB.

PUL-E ALAM, AFGHANISTAN - MARCH 31, 2014: Soldiers with the U.S. Army's 2nd Battalion 87th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division rest along a ridgeline following a patrol up a mountainside near Forward Operating Base (FOB) Shank. The primary mission of soldiers with the 10th Mountain Division stationed at FOB Shank is to advise and assist Afghan National Security Forces in the region. They patrol outside the FOB to deter enemy rocket attacks on the FOB.

In the wake of the September 11th attacks, President George W. Bush launched The Global War on Terrorism to bolster U.S. military defense across the globe — starting in Afghanistan.

Nearly two decades later, the counter-terrorism initiative has taken American military forces to 80 countries on six continents. The U.S. and the Taliban are edging toward Afghan peace negotiations, but what about our involvement elsewhere?

Smithsonian Counterterrorism Map

Courtesy: Smithsonian Magazine, Brown University’s Costs of War Project and 5W Infographics

This map is a composite of information gathered from government sources, reports, military websites, geographical databases, foreign embassies and interviews with various experts. The researchers behind it say their assessment of counter-terrorism efforts is conservative, especially because the U.S. government hasn’t always been transparent about its presence in other nations.

From Smithsonian Magazine:

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.

Many others have paid a different price. According to the Costs of War Project, 480,000 people have died from direct violence and 21 million people have become refugees from post-9/11 wars.

What have U.S. counter-terrorism efforts accomplished over the last two decades? Has it been worth the cost? And when will it end?

Show produced by Paige Osburn. Text by Kathryn Fink.

This show was produced in partnership with Smithsonian Magazine.

Guests

  • Stephanie Savell Co-director, Costs of War Project, Brown University; @stephsavell
  • Nick Turse Freelance investigative reporter; fellow, Type Media Center; his work has been featured in Vice, The Intercept, The New York Times and more; @nickturse
  • Tom Bowman Pentagon correspondent, NPR; @TBowmanNPR

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