Statistical Malpractice Watch

I’ve seen the claim that we have troops in 156 countries in numerous places, most recently Radley Balko’s awesome blog. But I have to take some issue with it. From my comments:

Not to [get] too deep into this, but that map of 156 countries with US troops looks very suspicious to me, and not just because their color coding is garbage — Europe is white while other countries are two tones.

I’ve looked over the CDI website and found the map source (http://siadapp.dmdc.osd.mil/personnel/MILITARY/history/hst0609.pdf). Many of those 156 countries have single-digit or double-digit US personnel in them. For example, they list almost all countries in Africa, but only Djibouti has a significant presence. If you’re talking 10,000 or more, the list is Germany, Italy, UK, Japan, South Korea, Afghanistan and Iraq.

What’s the comparison? Do the UK or China have similar “deployments”? Are these military personnel assigned to embassies? Maybe it’s just me, but having two military personnel stationed in Antigua does not seems like an extension of our Empire.

I don’t disagree that we should pare down our foreign involvements. But let’s have an honest debate. The US is not occupying 3/4 of the world.

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