The Sorrows of the Empire,
is Chalmers Johnson’s 2nd volume in his 3 volume book series: Blowback
the 1st of the three was reviewed in the previous issue and the 3rd
volume, Nemesis, will be reviewed in the next. Chalmers
Johnson, president of the Japan Policy Research Institute and professor
emeritus at University of California, San Diego, is a formidable writer with worldwide acclaim.
Chalmers Johnson writes: “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 constitutes a new form of empire.”
“Our country deploys well over half a million soldiers, spies, technicians, teachers, … in other nations… . Whole sectors of the American economy have come to rely on the military for sales.”
“American imperialism used to be a fiction of the far-left imagination,” wrote the English journalist Madeline Bunting, “now it is a fact of life.”
Building the American Empire goes back to the beginning of the nineteenth century; expanding into another territory, occupying that territory, and dealing harshly with people who resist occupation has been a persistent fact of American history from the first settlements to the present day. Empire building and expansion started in 1845 when President Polk dispatched American troops to the Rio Grande to deliberately provoke war with Mexico. He succeeded; the U.S. invaded Mexico and annexed Texas. The New York Herald in 1847 wrote about New Mexico and California, which were parts of Mexico: “The Universal Yankee nation can regenerate and disenthrall the people of Mexico in a few years; and we believe it is a part of our destiny to civilize that beautiful country.”
In 1898, when the United States took Guam, Puerto Rico and Philippines from Spain, President McKinley said: “The truth is I did not want the Philippines, I went down on my knees and prayed for guidance and one night it came to me, we could not leave the Philippines to themselves-they were unfit for self government-and they would soon have anarchy and misrule; there was nothing left for us to do but to take them all and educate them, civilize them and Christianize them.”
“Since the end of the Cold War, the United States has been engaged in continuous search for few justifications for its ever-expanding base structure-from ‘humanitarian intervention’ to ‘disarming Iraq’.” Prior to 2001, the United States had 725 foreign bases in thirty-eight countries, and it also had 254,788 military personnel in 153 countries, when civilian and dependents are included, the number exceeds 531000. There are also many bases around the world that are camouflaged and secret.
Charles Glass, journalist and writer, writes: “Israel has provided the U.S. with sites in the Negev desert for military bases. These are officially nonexistent sites.” William M. Arkin, a military specialist writes: “The United States has ‘prepositioned’ vehicles, military equipment, even a 500-bed hospital, for U.S. Marines, Special Forces, and Air Force fighter and bomber aircraft at at least six sites in Israel, all part of what is antiseptically described as ‘U.S.-Israel strategic cooperation.’”
Divine ordination combined with military power is a very dangerous idea; keeping in mind that today, the United States has 12,000 nuclear weapons, 970 military bases in a hundred different countries and warships on every sea. With God’s approval, you need no human standard of morality. Anyone today who claims the support of God might be embarrassed to recall that the Nazi storm troopers had inscribed on their belts, “Gott mit uns” (“God with us”).
Johnson believes our mission today is:
“Maintaining absolute military preponderance over the rest of the world;
Eavesdropping on the communications of citizens, allies and enemies alike;
Attempting to control as many sources of petroleum as possible, both to serve America’s insatiable demand for fossil fuels and to use that control as a bargaining chip with even more oil-dependent regions;
Providing work and income for the military-industrial complex; and
Ensuring that members of the military and their families live comfortably and are entertained while serving abroad.”
The Worldwide control of humanity's economic, social and political activities is under the helm of US corporate and military power. Underlying this process are various schemes of direct and indirect military intervention. These US sponsored strategies ultimately consist in a process of global subordination.
Major elements of the conquest and world domination strategy by the US refer to:
1) the control of the world economy and its financial markets,
2) the taking over of all natural resources (primary resources and nonrenewable sources of energy). The latter constitute the cornerstone of US power through the activities of its multinational corporations, according to the Center for research on Globalization.
“This book is a guide to the American empire as it begins openly to spread its imperial wings.” It tries to show that Bush, the Pentagon and the vested interests are bankrupting the nation, undermining the constitution and are the greatest obstacle to diplomacy and peace.
Chalmers Johnson writes: “I fear we will lose our country,” to policies implemented by a group of self-conscious imperialists in the government, conservatives who seek to implement their agenda under cover of the “war on terrorism.”
“Imperial presidency” is eroding the democratic underpinnings of our constitutional republic. As a nation we have failed to reverse the transfer of power from the representatives of the people to the Pentagon and the Central Intelligence Agency. Deception, lies and secrecy have become essential tools of government towards its citizens. The media has lost its independence and has allowed itself to become the government enabler. “The media allowed themselves to be manipulated into using sanitized expression like ‘collateral damage’ ‘regime change’ ‘illegal combatants’ and ‘preventive war’ as if these somehow explained and justified what the Pentagon was doing.”
Johnson concludes that America now faces: “‘the sorrows of empire’ a state of perpetual war, soon with weapons of mass destruction; the end of constitutional democracy, with a Pentagonised presidency; and the bankruptcy of the US economy.”
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