Chalmers Johnson is an absolutely sincere patriot, who really wants to save his country from disaster. For him, the US has definitely to make a choice between democracy (a domestic republic) and empire (a foreign imperialist), because it is on the brink of losing its democracy for the sake of keeping its empire.
National policies C. Johnson sees his country ruled by a hollowed out government. Privatization of governmental activities (public services) equals a dismantling of democratic rule and governmental responsibility. Unelected corporate officials (`mercenaries') working for profit-making corporations, have taken over governmental tasks: US governmental spending on defense, national security and social programs are siphoned to large corporations generating costs without oversight. The US government implemented a Big Brother policy with its `Total Information Awareness Program', which could compile dossiers on 300 million people (credit card purchases, magazine subscriptions, medical prescriptions, web site visits, e-mails, bank deposits, trips, events attended). Its insane gargantuan defense budget and low taxation levels on the rich are diverting resources from productive use (investments in education, healthcare and the environment). Moreover, the US population is badly informed by its totally gagged private media conglomerates.
International policies Internationally, C. Johnson sees an accelerating trend to militarism and dependence on the military-industrial complex. The US dominates the world through its military power (761 bases in 192 countries) and its intelligence personnel. From WW II until 9/11 there were more than 200 overseas military operations. The US installed an offshore system of injustice: torture, clandestine electronic surveillance, kidnapping, assassinations, secret prisons, rigged elections, support of State terrorism and interference in foreign economies in order to protect US interests. The results are an erosion of US power (Latin America, Japan, South-Korea) and retaliations (blowbacks) against US interests.
Future For C. Johnson, the US future is bleak. It will keep a façade of constitutional government and drift along until it collapses under imperial overstretch, perpetual wars and insolvency. Bankruptcy (and concomitantly the dramatic fall of the dollar) will cause a drastic lowering of the standard of living of its population and loss of control over international affairs to the benefit of rising powers (China, India). For him, the US doesn't have the capacity to remain the global hegemon. Wars will be lost again (against the Pashtun in Afghanistan).
Remedies C. Johnson's prescriptions are not less than drastic. The US must give up its reliance on military force in order to achieve foreign policy objectives. Moreover, its intelligence agencies should be abolished, because they have outlived any Cold War justification.
The near future will tell us if C. Johnson's outspoken and dramatic calls have been heard and, if not, if his doom scenario will become reality. A must read.
In this splendid book, American historian Chalmers Johnson calls for a huge cut in US military spending, for the CIA to be closed down, and for a noninterventionist US foreign policy.
As an illustration of how useless the CIA is, he notes that in 1950, the CIA dropped 212 agents into Manchuria. Within days, 101 had been killed and the other 111 had been captured.
Johnson reminds us that from 1849 to 1947, British governments sent military expeditions virtually every year to the Northwest Frontier, the border area between Afghanistan and Pakistan. In 1932, the British government used poison gas in Waziristan. But somehow, no British government ever won the hearts and minds of the Afghan people. US and British ‘surges’, ‘nation-building’, counter-insurgency, all meet the same fate.
The Department of Defense said it used $7.62 trillion (in 1982 dollars) in capital resources from 1947 to 1987. In 1985, the Department of Commerce valued US plant, equipment and infrastructure at just over $7.29 trillion. So the USA spends more on destroying things than on making things. US governments always claim that US military spending is good for the economy, although they always saw that Soviet military spending was bad for their economy.
The USA had 761 bases overseas (2008 figure), and 510,927 military personnel in 151 countries (2007 figure), costing $250 billion a year.
The USA backs military dictatorships across the world, including those which ran South Korea from 1960 to 1987, even when General Chun’s regime killed 2,000 pro-democracy demonstrators in Kwangju in 1980.
Johnson sums up, “The Federation of American Scientists has compiled a list of more than two hundred overseas military operations from the end of World War II until September 11, 2001, in which we were involved and typically struck the first blow. The current wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are not included. In no instance did democratic governments come about as a direct result of any of these military activities.”
Five ENGROSSING Stars! In this series of up-to-date essays, author, historian, and political commentator Chalmers Johnson (Blowback, Second Edition: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire (American Empire Project) gives an up-to-date extensive investigative assessment of American's imperialistic tendencies and realities. In a very frank manner, he looks at recent American presidential administrations and their policies which have resulted in our far-flung empire of over 700 military bases consuming billions of dollars spent on personnel and equipment to sustain those bases and presumably our national interests and security. He also looks at how the military-industrial complex and Congress promote these activities in a form of false "military Keynesianism" that produces just the opposite effect of the overall success it promises the country and the economy, as our power and effectiveness actually wanes. At a time when the author says we have a smaller number of combat brigades, ships, and aircraft, the military budget is spiraling upwards, putting us in a position of "losing our democracy for the sake of keeping our empire" based on four dynamics: "isolation, overstretch, the uniting of local and global forces opposing imperialism, and in the end bankruptcy."
Beginning with the Clinton Administration and going through Obama's "war presidency", author Johnson takes stock of how we got into the current situation thru our hubristic idealism, our "imperial presidency", and the current, ultimate failure of constitutional checks and balances in reining in our expanding military budget. Beyond this we are facing "blowback" for our military adventurism from local and global forces opposing imperialism who have been directly and negatively impacted by the actions of the USA. The history lesson giving the run up from "Charlie Wilson's War" to the rise of Osama bin Laden to the 9-11 attacks to the current messy wars we face in Afghanistan and Iraq is particularly informative, but he goes far past this giving an arresting look at how our general and specific international policies have negatively affected individual countries, leaders, and the world in general over a substantial period of time. Particular emphasis is placed on CIA blunders around the world and over the decades while the agency promotes an aura of success for itself. Then he gives 10 recommendations on "Dismantling The Empire", some of which I believe are laudable but difficult to achieve in "liquidating" our imperial assets. HIs recommendation with regard to the CIA is not realistic. The book ends with a chilling warning: I hope the USA's leaders get the messages from this extensive missive and act on it as "our last best hope". This fascinating book from the American Empire Project is highly-informative, very opinionated, frankly stated, deeply researched, and "Highly Recommended". Five INFORMATIVE Stars! (This review is based on a Kindle download in Mac, IPhone, and "text-to-speech" modes.) (The other books in the Chalmers Johnson Blowback trilogy, besides the aforementioned Blowback second edition book itself, are: Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic (American Empire Project) and The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic (The American Empire Project)