on 27 May 2004
This unusually important book, based on huge research and historical knowledge, shows how the modern US empire is destroying the American Republic.
The USA has 500,000 soldiers and support staff billeted abroad at 725 permanent bases in 38 countries. A key role for these forces is to control oil and gas pipelines. In the key oil-producing regions of the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia, there are bases in Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Egypt, Djibouti, Turkey, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan, plus six secret bases in Israel.
The proposed Trans-Afghan oil and gas pipelines run south from Turkmenistan, through Afghanistan, to Pakistan’s port of Gwadar. In Eastern Europe, Camps Bondsteel and Monteith in Kosovo bestride the proposed Trans-Balkan pipeline, which would run from Georgia through Bulgaria to Albania’s port of Vlora. Camp Sarafovo is in Burgas, home to Bulgaria’s biggest oil refinery, and the camp at Constanta dominates the centre of Rumania’s oil industry. In Colombia, several hundred US ‘advisers’ are fighting not against drug runners, but to protect Occidental Petroleum’s oil and gas interests in Arauca province.
The US government has twisted the ‘war against terrorism’ into a war for world domination, scarred by its own state terrorism. In Afghanistan, its bombing killed 5,000 civilians directly, and another 20,000 indirectly, by disrupting relief efforts and medical care. In January 2002, US forces took 27 villagers prisoner, tortured them for several days, and then shot some of them (Washington Post, 11 February 2002). None were Taliban or Al Qa’ida members. The USA’s illegal occupation of Iraq inevitably causes similar atrocities.
Johnson shows how the US ruling class is moving towards fascism, marked by perpetual attacks on Bush’s hit list of 60 countries. At home, corporatism, vast military spending, corruption, destruction of liberties and Goebbelsian propaganda, all feed the drive to fascism.
Johnson sums up, “Imperialism is the single greatest cause of war, and war is the midwife of new imperialist acquisitions.” And America needs a revolution for democracy: as Johnson writes, “A revolution would be required to bring the Pentagon back under democratic control, or to abolish the CIA.”
on 7 November 2012
William Podmore has already written a very thorough review of the hardback edition of this fine book, and I'm not going to try to cover the same ground as he's already done such an admirable job. I just want to add my own brief observation that, in amassing such a weight of empirical evidence, and in presenting it in such readable form, Chalmers Johnson has produced a keynote study that in its way is actually rather more persuasive than the polemical efforts of Chomsky et al (much as I admire their work also). It is all the more telling and poignant for the fact that Johnson writes from within the US establishment and as an American "patriot". This is mainstream liberal analysis at its best.