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The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic [Audiobook] [Audio CD]

Chalmers Johnson , Tom Weiner
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Product details

  • Audio CD
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audiobooks; Unabridged edition (Nov 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1433204835
  • ISBN-13: 978-1433204838
  • Product Dimensions: 1.4 x 1.3 x 0.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant study of US world domination 27 Nov 2005
An informative and authoritative study of the relationship between today's USA and the rest of the world - and the effects of this on the USA itself.
Johnson shows the historical roots of the US "empire of bases" with a wealth of factual detail, presented so as to inform not deluge. He charts the US transition from isolationist to imperialist, describing and illustrating the current US military domination of the world and its expression through an almost ubiquitous network of military bases.
He demonstrates not merely the effect of this upon the rest of the world, but the totally corrosive effect of such militarism on the USA itself - loss of liberty, loss of democracy, loss of truth, and looming economic disaster.
I was particularly impressed to find an excellent and unlooked for section on globalization as a method of domination, plus a argument that miltarism now supercedes globalization as the principal means of US control and exploitation.
Everyone should read it - but especially citizens of the USA.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars surprise to only some 5 July 2009
The Book

As distinct from other peoples on this earth, most Americans do not recognize - or do not want to recognize - that the united States dominates the world through its military power. Due to government secrecy, they are often ignorant of the fact that their government garrisons the globe. They do not realize that a vast network of American military bases on every continent except Antarctica actually constitutes a new form of empire.

American leaders now like to compare themselves to imperial Romans, even though they do not know much about Roman history. The main lesson for the United States ought to be how the Roman Republic evolved into an empire, in the process destroying its system on elections for its two consuls (its chief executives), rendering the Roman senate impotent, ending forever the occasional popular assemblies and legislative comitia that were at the heart of republican life, and ushering in permanent military dictatorship.

Prosecutors in Chile, Argentina, Spain and France would like to put former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger on trial for his support and sponsorship of the military dictatorships of Brazil, Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia, Argentina and Ecuador while, in the 1970s, they were killing, torturing and "disappearing" their own citizens and those of neighbouring countries.

Like other empires of the past century, the United States has chosen to live not prudently, in peace and prosperity, but as a massive military power athwart an angry, resistant globe.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Extremely informative 11 Sep 2013
By Roger
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Superb book - everyone should read it ... or better yet ...."Némésis".
I couldn't get my head out of the damned book..... until Némésis arrived!
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Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  123 reviews
656 of 686 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 'War is a Racket' - General Smedley Butler USMC 1 April 2004
By Augustine Redux - Published on Amazon.com
Am I the only one who thinks the the rest of his countryman are nuts? For the past 60 years and three generations, Americans have been led to believe that that spending billions for the Defense of the country is not only necessary but patriotic.
Forget conspiracy theories and ideological agendas, just contemplate one fact: The USA spends more on military and intelligence funding in 2004 than it has spent at any one time in history. Fourteen carrier groups to defeat the two remaining countries of the axis of evil, N. Korea and Iran? 750 and counting military bases outside the USA? However, the government tells us it is powerless to defend the country against an attack from a terrorist group with WMD??? So, the next time you watch television and the commentator tells you why we need another aircraft carrier, more tanks, more F-16's, etc., ask yourself: Who are we defending ourselves against? And, as Chalmers Johnson points out, follow the money!
This book is an excellent primer on how our beloved country is being led down the road to ruin by a group of people who are lining the pockets of themeselves and their friends and supporters. All of this is being done in the name of Democracy, Freedom and Globalization. But, why do we want to liberate people who sit on oil while those countries being ruthlessly exploited and practcially enslaved are ignored since they can contribute little or nothing to the "world economy" (pick any poor third world country)?
This review is written by a conservative American, cold war supporter and US Navy veteran (like Chalmers Johnson)who believes in the old Republic (when is the last time you heard that word mentioned in the era of the imperial presidency). Forget whether you are democrat or republican, take the blinders off and seek the truth, excellently told by Chalmers Johnson.
143 of 149 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sobering, Makes an Important Case, Rough Around the Edges 24 Jan 2004
By Robert David STEELE Vivas - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This double-spaced book is an indictment of American militarism and unilateralism, and it merits reading by every citizen. It loses one star to a lack of structure and sufficient references to a broader range of supporting literature, and to the author's tendency to go "a bridge too far" in blaming the CIA for everything and in assuming that our troops and their families are somehow enjoying their "luxurious" overseas deployments.
It may be best to begin the review where the author ends, by agreeing with the case he makes for the potential collapse of America if the people fail to take back the power and restore integrity and participatory democracy to the Congress. Absent a radical reverse, four really bad things will happen to America: 1) it will be in a state of perpetual war, inspiring more terrorism than it can defeat in passing; 2) there will be a loss of democracy and constitutional rights; 3) truthfulness in public discourse will be replaced by propaganda and disinformation; and 4) we will be bankrupt.
It merits comment that today, as I read and reviewed the book, which documents over 725 US bases around the world, many of them secret, there is a public discussion in which the Pentagon is acknowledging only 400 or so bases to exist.
There is a considerable amount of short-hand history in the book that can be skimmed rapidly--from the roots of American militarism in the Spanish-American war, to the non-partisan efforts of both Clinton and Bush fils to establish a military base structure in Arabia and in Central Asia.
The author provides a number of worth-while commentaries on war crimes and associations with genocidal acts and repressive dictators on the part of Henry Kissinger, Wes Clark, James Baker, Dick Cheney, and other mostly Republican "wise men" associated with the oil companies of America.
On pages 100-101 he draws on a number of authoritative sources to note that the casualty rate for the first Gulf War was close to 31% (THIRTY-ONE PERCENT) due to the exposure of the 696,778 veterans serving there being exposed to depleted uranium rounds and other toxic conditions *of our own making*, with 262,586 of these consequently falling ill and being *officially* declared to be disabled by the Veteran's Administration. I have no doubt that there will be an additional 100,000 or more disabled veteran's coming out of Gulf War II. These disabilities are multi-generational. Veterans disabled in the Gulf have higher possibilities of spawning children with deformities "including missing eyes, blood infections, respiratory problems, and fused fingers."
The author excels, I believe, in bringing together in one book the combined costs and threats to the American Republic of a military that on the one hand is creating a global empire that is very costly to the US taxpayer and very threatening to everyone else; and on the other hand, is creating anti-democratic conditions within the United States, to include frequent and expensive preparations for dealing with "civilian disorder conditions" here at home.
The author also excels in discussing both the collapse of US diplomacy (today the Pentagon manages 93% of the international relations budget, the Department of State just 7%), and the rise of private military companies that he carefully lists on page 140--Halliburton, Kellogg Brown and Root, Vinnell, Military Professional Resources, DynCorp, Science Applications Corporation, BDM (now TRW), Armor Holdings, Cubic, DFI, International Charter. There are more--they are all "out of control" in terms of not being subject to Congressional oversight, military justice and discipline, or taxpayer loyalty.
In the middle of the book the author examines the change in the roles of the military from its World War II and post-Cold War missions to five new missions that have not been cleared with the American people: 1) imperial policing; 2) global eavesdropping; 3) control of petroleum fields and channels; 4) enrichment of the military-industrial complex; and 5) comfortable maintenance of the legionnaires in subsidized compounds around the world, such that numbers could be justified that could never be maintained in garrison within the USA.
On page 164 the author notes most interestingly that China is among the greatest purchasers of fiber-optic cable in the world (thus negating much of NSA's 1970's capabilities), and on page 165 he discusses, with appropriate footnotes, how the US, UK, Canada, and Australia are circumventing the prohibitions against monitoring their own people by trading off--the Canadians monitoring British politicians for the British, the British monitoring US politicians, etcetera.
Among the strongest sections of the book is the detailed discussion of America's love affair with ruthless dictators (and Muslim dictators at that) in Central Asia, all in pursuit of cheap oil our privilege elite think they can control. Of special interest to me is the author's delicate dissection of the vulnerability of any Central Asian energy strategy, and his enumeration of all the vulnerabilities that our elite are glossing over or ignoring.
Summing it all up, the author attributes US militarism and the Bush fils "doctrine" to "oil, Israel, and domestic politics", and he bluntly condemns it all as "irrational in terms of any cost-benefit analysis." Quoting Stanley Hoffmann, an acclaimed international relations theorist, he condemns Bush's "strategy" (as do I) as "breathtakingly unrealistic", as "morally reckless", and as "eerily reminiscent of the disastrously wishful thinking of the Vietnam War."
This is a fine book. Read widely enough, it has the potential for constructively informing the popular debate that is emerging despite all efforts by the Administration and its corporate cronies to suppress discussion [e.g. MoveOn.org's $2M in cash for a Superbowl ad has been rejected by CBS on the grounds of being too controversial]. Despite a few rough edges, I believe the author represents a body of informed scholarly and practical opinion such as I have tried to honor with my many non-fiction reviews, and I hope that everyone who reads this review decides to buy the book.
52 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A nation reaps what t sows 28 Aug 2004
By Luc REYNAERT - Published on Amazon.com
C. Johnson wrote a dark and very revealing book.

He shows forcefully that the US became a militarist empire, which eroded the democratic underpinnings of the constitutional empire and transfered power tot the Pentagon and the intelligence agencies. His thesis is profusely illustrated: US military and intelligence interventions worldwide, the enormous defense budget and hundreds of US bases all over the planet.

This imperialistic behaviour has also an economic veil (neo-liberalism), which the author castigates as 'rich countries kicking the ladder to keep poor nations from catching up' via the WTO and the IMF.

But this brutal behaviour brings with it inhuman sorrows.

First, a state of perpetual war leading to more terrorism. For the author, the war on terrorism is only a cover-up for imperialist expansion. Further, in order to maintain its empire, the US pays off client regimes, uses state terrorism, forces 'regime changes' via coups, assassinations, economic destabilizations and invasions, with millions of civilian casualties. As an example, his analysis of the Iraq war is brilliant. Its ultimate goal is imperialistic: the creation of permanent military bases in this country in order to dominate the Middle East.

Secondly, a loss of democracy and constitutional rights. The 'echelon' system dwarfs George Orwell's Big Brother. After September 11, the US acts as if it is no longer bound by international laws.

Thirdly, information becomes disinformation, mere propaganda and glorification of war and power. Orwell's newspeak 'war is peace' became a reality with the notion of 'preventive war'. In the Iraq war, the US troops allegedly bombed deliberately the offices of international journalists (the trial is still going on) showing clearly that it is not interested in free speech (objective reporting).

Fourth, perhaps ultimately bankruptcy by financing an overstretched unproductive army and colossal military investments. The author quotes judiciously Robert Higgs who characterizes this military-industrial complex as 'a vast cesspool of mismanagement, waste and criminal conduct.'

On top of the tremendous margins on military contracts, he quotes the deputy inspector general saying 'that adjustments of 4,4 trillion dollars in the Pentagon books were needed, and that 1,1 trillion dollars were simply gone.' Mind-boggling.

The author also torpedoes the fable that the US caused the collapse of the Soviet Union and that it won the Cold War.

Ultimately the author is very pessimistic about the state of the Union and believes that the actual situation is irreversible!

This is a brutal but necessary book. A must read for all those interested in the future of mankind.
251 of 276 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars essential truths rather than pablum and propaganda 16 Jan 2004
By L. F Sherman - Published on Amazon.com
Essential truths are discomforting but critically important while there may still be time to save the United States from its worst enemies - antidemocratic ruling cliques that are part of the military industrial-complex (now oil and communications industries included) at its worst. This is not the pabulum and propaganda of most of the press and right wing think tanks or corporate media but rather a tough minded well documented and truly scary reality that most would prefer to ignore -- at their own risk. The American Empire of Bases, hidden expenses and private corporate military contracts, together with a plethora of lies make for mass hallucination that has but an inkling of truth. One chapter could stand on its own as a great description of recent economic and military history "What Happened to Globalization?". The chapter also effectively highlights how mythological is the "free market capitalism" that is ideology and far from reality. It is clear that the problem is not new - but also that is far worse than ever with the megalomaniac boy emperor and his irresponsible quest that is destroying everything from the Constitution to the economy. The practical first step - not mentioned directly by Johnson - is to get Bush out of office and work for major restoration of the promise of America for the people and the world rather than a few oil and war profiteers. Wake up! Pray there is still time to restore our country! Johnson does not say it in so many words but it becomes clear that no one has done more to make enemies and reduce our security than this President and his administration. After reading this one is not likely to be a total 'sucker' like Goering's public that could be manipulated by freaking people out about their enemies abroad and calling anyone who disagrees unpatriotic or traitorous.
47 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Sorrows of Empire or The Empire of Sorrow 29 Mar 2006
By Thomas Fleenor - Published on Amazon.com
In The Sorrows of Empire Chalmers Johnson has compiled and constructed a brilliant analysis of United States military policy and its history, as well as evolution, of imperialistic tendencies. The book presents an overwhelming amount of superbly done research as well as an incredible array of statistical information to buttress the arguments that Johnson wishes to promulgate. Most importantly, Johnson is providing an increasingly unaware world population, especially and most-importantly that of the American contingent, with information and analysis that is being progressively more and more silenced by mass media conglomerations and the U.S. Government's Orwellian methods of knowledge distribution and censorship.

Johnson starts his book off with a very thorough examination of the history of U.S. foreign policy, roots of imperialism, and an illumination behind much of the motivation for classic shifts in the direction of the U.S. methods of international engagement. I found this section of the book to be one of the more interesting, because it provided me with some foundational understanding for some of the current direction of U.S. policy. Because most American students and laypeople's understanding of U.S. history regarding the military and foreign policy is antiseptically produced by major U.S. publishing companies, information that Johnson elucidates in The Sorrows of Empire is as vitally important to an educated public as it is unsettling to the average persons' consciousness.

Branching out from his discussion of history, Johnson moves on to discuss the sheer numbers involved regarding the U.S. military hegemony. Unfortunately, as much as these chapters of the book are extremely important to a full understanding of U.S. militarism, I found that the sections are so full of facts and statistical information that they began to read like VCR manuals. However, in wading through the numbers, estimates, pricings, and projections, I've found that not only did I not know how pervasive the military establishment was, but that the world is essentially dotted and monitored by an unfortunate web of U.S. military concrete and steel.

I was perhaps most impressed by the fact that Johnson did not stop at the exposing of the military establishment at home and abroad, but rather he continues to discuss the terrible inequality and hardship that has come as a result of current neoliberal tendencies in the form of domestic and international economic free-market fundamentalist policy design. Johnson goes on to discuss how the U.S.' hypocritical non-market funding and deployment of the military regime cooperates with the self-benefiting establishment and execution of institutions such as the World Trade Organization, World Bank, and International Monetary Fund to provide for world-wide economic hegemony of the ruling Capitalist economic states. While, this may not be the way he describes it, at its fundamental level this is the contradictory relationship the U.S. and its "allies" in exploitation have chosen as the most effective route to strip-mining the Third World.

The Sorrows of Empire in its final pages appeals to the American people to attempt to at the very least be mindful of the reality with which it has presented throughout the previous analyses. Unfortunately, Johnson does not provide much in the way of useful suggestion to create positive global social change and eradicate the massive military establishment, but he does warn that it may soon be too late, if it is not already, to redirect the course of the United States away from that of all previous empires. Johnson warns the American public against the possibilities of casting the die and crossing the Rubicon, and we should all be listening.
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