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The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy and the End of the Republic Paperback – 10 Apr 2006
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"A disquieting revelation... a powerful indictment of current U.S. military and foreign policy." Los Angeles Times "In Chalmers Johnson the American empire has found its Jeremiah. He deserves to be heard; but the proper response to his gloomy message is not despair, but thought followed by action." Washington Post
About the Author
Chalmers Johnson is President of the Japan Policy Research Institute and Professor Emeritus at the University of California, San Diego. He is the author of numerous books including, most recently, Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire and Japan: Who Governs?
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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.
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. There is one development that could conceivably stop this process: the people could retake control of Congress, reform it along with the corrupted elections laws that have made it into a forum for special interests, turn it into a genuine assembly of democratic representatives and cut off the supply of money to the Pentagon and the secret intelligence agencies.
Johnson demonstrates one more time how deep the military complex has penetrated into the decision making process of the political and economical elites of the US. War is seen as strategic business and serves those who are supposed to prevent war under the pretext of national security. Since the fault lines between (geo-) politics and multinationals have been blurred beyond recognition, as have their interests, we are made to belief that in order to survive the groundless attacks from some fanatics we need to ever increase the defensive walls we build around the world.
With a President who seems to belief that the US has met resistance because "they hate our freedom," it is easy to understand why so many people in the US itself have turned away from any participation in the political processes at all. Thanks to writers as Chalmers Johnson the common guy on the street can (or could), by only reading one single book, supersede the historical knowledge of a President like George W. Bush.
Yes, one could argue if the number of 725 military bases in 153 countries is indeed the correct one, and yes, one could argue about the actual numbers of the regular army. One could even argue about the validity of the comparison with an Empire in general, or the Roman Empire in particular. Nevertheless, what ever the exact definitions or numbers, it is clear that the military complex puts a great burden on the US, economically, politically and strategically. The military complex needs wars and well defined enemies to survive, but the US does not need either war, nor the military complex to do so. On the contrary, what Johnson tries to demonstrate is the fact that if we (as a global community) follow the given path which is dictated by the US today, the outcome will be a surprise only to some.
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