Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The End of the American Empire

Listening to DemocracyNow! this morning, I caught an interview with Chalmers Johnson about his new book, Nemesis. The last book in his trilogy that includes Blowback and Sorrows of Empire. I've never read any of them, but I've listened to a few interviews with CJ. I have a pretty good idea of what his work is about, and I really like what he has to say. I hope to read the trilogy some day.

The answers to the last two questions that Amy Goodman asked him have really stuck with me. The reason why they have is because basically he is saying there really is no salvaging the American empire and way of life. Here they are:

AMY GOODMAN: Finally, Chalmers Johnson, you have just completed your trilogy. Your first book, Blowback, then Sorrows of Empire, and now finally Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic. What is your prediction?

CHALMERS JOHNSON: Well, I don't see any way out of it. I think it's gone too far. I think we are domestically too dependent on the military-industrial complex, that every time -- I mean, it's perfectly logical for any Secretary of Defense to try and close military bases that are redundant, that are useless, that are worn out, that go back to the Civil War. Any time he tries to do it, you produce an uproar in the surrounding community from newspapers, television, priests, local politicians: save our base.

The two mother hens of the Defense Facilities Subcommittee of the Senate Armed Services Committee, the people committed to taking care of our bases are easily Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas and Dianne Feinstein of California, the two states with the largest number of military bases, and those two senators would do anything in their power to keep them open. This is the insidious way in which the military-industrial complex has penetrated into our democracy and gravely weakened it, produced vested interests in what I call military Keynesianism, the use and manipulation of what is now three-quarters of a trillion dollars of the Defense budget, once you include all the other things that aren't included in just the single appropriation for the Department of Defense.

This is a -- it's out of control. We depend upon it, we like it, we live off of it. I cannot imagine any President of any party putting together the coalition of forces that could begin to break into these vested interests, any more than a Gorbachev was able to do it in his attempted reforms of the Soviet Union in the late 1980s.

AMY GOODMAN: Is there anything, Chalmers, that gives you hope?

CHALMERS JOHNSON: Well, that's exactly what we're doing this morning. That is, the only way -- you've got to reconstitute the constitutional system in America, or it is over. That is that empires --once you go in the direction of empire, you ultimately lead to overstretch, bankruptcy, coalitions of nations hostile to your imperialism. We're well on that route.

The way that it might be stopped is by a mobilization of inattentive citizens. I don't know that that's going to happen. I’m extremely dubious, given the nature of conglomerate control of, say, the television networks in America for the sake of advertising revenue. We see Rupert Murdoch talking about buying a third of the Los Angeles Times. But, nonetheless, there is the internet, there is Amy Goodman, there are -- there's a lot more information than there was.

One of the things I have experienced in these three books is a much more receptive audience of alarmed Americans to Nemesis than to the previous two books, where there was considerable skepticism, so that one -- if we do see a renaissance of citizenship in America, then I believe we could recapture our government. If we continue politics as in the past, then I think there is no alternative but to say Nemesis is in the country, she's on the premises, and she is waiting to carry out her divine mission.

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