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Mapping Militarism 2020

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Mapping Militarism
Mapping Militarism
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A new collection of maps found here displays what militarism looks like in the world. Here's a brief guide to using and understanding them.

Across the top are 10 drop-down menus on these topics: Wars, Weapons, U.S. Weapons, Money, Nukes, Chemical and Biological, U.S. Military, Air Strikes, Law, and Promotes Peace and Security.

Some of the topics only include one map, others multiple maps. The one with the most has eight maps. When you click on the name of a map in a drop-down menu, you'll see that map displayed. If the map contains data for multiple years, you can see previous years by changing the date at the bottom. You can even make it scroll forward through the years like a short video. You can select a particular country from a list or on the map. You can zoom in or out. You can click on the color key to display only the countries in a particular range of data (such as those with the highest spending on wars or suffering the highest number of air strikes). You can print any map or get a direct link to any map set to any date and other settings.

Each map has a year as part of its name. While the maps have all just been updated for 2020, the latest available data for some of them is from 2019 or an earlier year. The dates on the maps correspond to the years the data is from. None of the maps reflect any changes already brought about by or predicted or hoped for as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Here's a bit of information about each topic that has been mapped.

Wars. This section includes three maps: Troops in Afghanistan, Wars Present, Drone Strikes.

The first map displays the number of troops from each nation that are taking part in the war on Afghanistan according to NATO. A number of these nations have declared their support for a global ceasefire, but without withdrawing their troops. Over the years, however, some nations have withdrawn their troops. Scroll the map back through time to see nations that used to be in this war but no longer are.

The second map highlights the nations where wars have caused 1,000 or more deaths in the past year according to data from the Uppsala Conflict Data Program displayed at Wikipedia. Go to that link to find smaller wars as well. Scroll this map back through time to see where wars were in previous years. This map changes considerably from year to year, but the wars are always in the global south, mostly concentrated in North Africa and the Middle East, usually in areas rich in fossil fuels, and never in any of the nations that produce and export most of the weapons for the wars (see weapons maps below).

The third map displays data gathered by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen on U.S. drone "strikes." Unlike all the other maps, this data is cumulative. That is to say, the figure of 13,072 drone strikes on Afghanistan for 2020 is the total number over the past several years. But, notice that the total by 2019 was 5,888. This means that drone strikes on Afghanistan in the past year have exceeded those of all previous years combined. We also see a major increase in Somalia. In contrast, since the number for Pakistan is unchanged from 2019 to 2020, there have been no drone strikes recorded there in the past year. The reason the data for this map does not come from the U.S. government which surely knows it, is that the U.S. government does not provide such data to the public; this data has to be obtained by journalists working in the nations where people are being blown up.

Weapons. This topic contains eight maps. The source for the data in them is the U.S. State Department, which relies on data from the World Bank and the United Nations Statistical Division. The disadvantage with this source is any lack of trust with it, but the advantage is that the incredibly damning information cannot be questioned by the primary guilty party, since it provided the data itself. The latest data, new in 2020, is from 2017. About the eight maps:

Weapons Exported. This map provides the billions of U.S. dollars worth of weapons exported in 2017 from each country. The United States so dominates the field that it made sense to include the next map displaying percentages. Note that exports under $50 million are recorded as $0 because not provided by the State Department, so some of the nations listed at $0 are actually above that yet dealing in small change relative to the big weapons dealers of the world.

Weapons Exported as Percentage. This map shows what percentage of total global weapons exports was exported by each country. The United States was 78.5%. No other nation even reached 5%.

Weapons Exported to the Poorest Countries. This map provides the billions of U.S. dollars worth of weapons exported from each nation to the poorest quintile of nations on earth.

Weapons Exported to Poorest Countries as Percentage. The United States covers 43%, China 24%, Russia 19%.

Weapons Exported to the Least Democratic Countries. This map provides the billions of U.S. dollars worth of weapons exported to the least democratic quintile of nations on earth. Remember that this is data developed by the U.S. government and published without shame. (See also maps below on oppressive governments' militaries armed, trained, and funded by the United States.)

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David Swanson is the author of "When the World Outlawed War," "War Is A Lie" and "Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union." He blogs at and and works for the online (more...)
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