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on 7 April 2004
This book is famous for prophesying 9/11 within the first few pages. It is difficult to ignore how accurate his predictions have been over the last 4 years.
Johnson is most interesting because of his background. As he recounts in the beginning of this book, he was originally an academic Cold warrior who felt that his work could contribute to the fight against Communism. Now he feels that those early sentiments were incorrect, he believes US "imperial" impulses were (and are) far more destructive in the long term.
If you read this book with an already sceptical view of American foreign policy you will find it far more informative than knee-jerk leftist polemics. Even those who firmly support US aims and ambitions may find these arguments compelling.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 11 January 2006
In this hard-hitting analysis, Chalmers Johnson explains the goals and the hidden (from its inhabitants) functioning of the US hegemon: an empire based on military power and the use of US capital and markets to force global economic integration on US terms at whatever costs to others.
On the military front, the US population forgot G. Washington’s warning: ‘avoid the necessity of those overgrown military establishments, which are to be regarded as particularly hostile to Republican Liberty.’
The US intelligence and military establishment is close to being beyond civilian control and becoming an autonomous system, whose colossal budget with its juicy cost-plus contracts is only controlled by vested ideological and financial interests. This book shows clearly that US presidents, like Carter or Clinton, had not the power to oppose the Pentagon’s designs: perpetuate and develop the Cold War structures in order to consolidate its power. The ends justify all means as numerous intelligence or military interventions in the world show, which sponsored dictatorships, genocidal campaigns, war crimes, state terrorism and paramilitary death-squads. 90 % of all US weapons were sold, not to democracies, but to human right abusers.
On the economic front, globalization US style provoked economic disasters in South-Asia and South-America, throwing millions of people into poverty. However the US still urged its ‘allies’ to buy weapons! This kind of globalization, which provoked still more economic inequality, will not be forgotten for a long time (see W. Bello: Dilemmas of Domination.).
By overstretching its financial means (weapon systems are profligate economic waste), the US risks a long lasting downfall of the dollar.
The US and its population need an industrial not a military or intelligence policy, because a new rival hegemon points at the horizon: China, which will be the superpower of the 21st century. China will not be contained. The US will have to adjust to it.
In a world of hypocritical and gagged media, Chalmers Johnson’s much needed voice proposes human solutions for the world’s problems: ‘bring most overseas land-based forces home and reorient foreign policy to stress leadership through example, economic aid, international law, multilateral institutions and diplomacy, instead of military intervention, economic bullying or financial manipulation.’
With its surprising comparisons, Chalmers Johnson sent a solid warning to the actual US establishment. A nation reaps what its sows. The blowback could be horrendous.
This book is a must read.
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on 3 January 2014
A wake-up call for the USA as stated on the cover. The idea that they need to change their entire foreign policy or risk the wrath of countries and peoples that have been subjugated and oppressed as a result of these policies over decades is a timely reminder that 'you reap what you sow'.
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on 12 December 2013
Well written book and quite informative. It removes a lot of the hype and gloss around US external policy and highlights the small print behind the various policies implemented by the various administrations over a set period
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on 11 February 2009
In summary, this book comprised a good insight of US military colonization especially in east Asia such as Okinawa inland in Japan where sexual abuses were conduct by American soldiers . Also, it tends to examine in details the history of American military interventions such as in the Korean war in the 50s and it's parallel comparison with the soviet union's crushing of the revolt in Hungary and it's would- be repercussions to the American public .
Thereafter, there is an economic analysis of both china and Japan and how Japan the second strongest economic country in the world has taken advantage of entering the American market and selling its products competitively inside us and at the same time making roadblocks for America entering the Japanese market as a financial blowback to us by exporting from Japan and downsizing employees inside by moving large associations to a cheaper labor market.

Hence, this book as the first part of the trilogy of costs and consequences of American empire , shed some lights on rather economic as well as political analysis background of the present and future main Asian adversaries to Us especially the largest growing economy of China.

Needless to say,economically speaking, of course the authur didn't forget to mention the role of IMF( international monetary fund) as an empire asset to us government espiacially in page 219 :"the IMF is essentialy a covert arm of the us treasury yet beyond congressional oversight becaus t is formally an international organisation.its voting rules ensure that it is dominated by us and its allies" or that "IMF is insinuated ino inner sanctms on nearly 75 developing country governments around the world with a comined popultion of 1.4 billion"
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on 7 February 2007
I was really disappointed with this book. Both the title and the synopsis on the back made me think it was going to be a global analysis of US foreign policy and covert operations and their subsequent ramifications. But this never really occurred. Instead, in the book there is some of what I was expecting, but an awful lot analysis of the Far East during the Cold War.

Some of this seemed relevant, but I don't see there being much 'Blowback' from the likes of Japan or South Korea. He seems to skim over the parts of the world where there is potential for a greater amount of blowback, the Middle East and Africa for example.

It felt to me like Mr Johnson knows a lot about the Far East, but to sell a book, he gave it a provocative title and had the cover image of some middle eastern gentlemen setting fire to the stars and stripes.

Disappointing book. But to get informed about Japanese - US trade policy.... please read on.
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on 11 September 2012
After af title like that, I expected some interesting revelations, but was disappointed. The book is written in a slightly academic prose and I am going to throw it out and not even keep it in my library. It may be a good book, but it just isn't good for me.
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on 19 October 2001
"It does not take a Thucydides to imagine the consequences" writes the author in the conclusions. Reality implies the opposite. Thucydides stated that in our chaotic world history cannot be studied without a model, something that is true in science in general. Information is always biased, incomplete, false, everything but objective. A model is a guide.
The author's model is that a given situation is due to specific behaviour that was intended to lead to opposite direction but was based on "intentional" ignorance and lack of respect for other dimensions of the problem. This he calls blowback, a rather unfortunate title for the book.
Starting from the behaviour of Japan in China he explains the series of events that led to today's China. He seeks to find the modern situations in what concerns the behaviour of the only ("rogue" he calls it) superpower in order to draw conclusions and suggestions.
The author is sorrowfully confirmed by the tragic events, though they do not come from the geographical area he analysed. Since Kassandra's time prophets of misfortune are not convincing.
Excellent book and helpful to re-establish reason and understand seemingly uncomprehensive modern situations. Will it help to re-orient the global politics of the superpower? Thucydides said No. Most probably events will lead to the tragic "catharsis".
I would suggest a title for the next edition taken from a poem by Constantin Cavafis: "The deafening cry of the coming events"; this is what the book is about.
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