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Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire (American Empire Project) Paperback – January 4, 2004
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“Blowback is expansive thinking . . . a straight-talking analysis of America's global conduct during the Cold War and since, and what we're going to pay for it.” ―The Nation
“Johnson is on to something . . . It is indeed a new post–Cold War ballgame, and Johnson's warning, if it were heeded in Washington, would help keep America safe from the temptation of untrammeled power.” ―Newsday
About the Author
Chalmers Johnson, president of the Japan Policy Research Institute, is a frequent contributor to the Los Angeles Times and The Nation. Author of the forthcoming The Sorrows of Empire, and numerous books on Japan and Asia, including MITI and the Japanese Miracle and Japan: Who Governs?, he lives in southern California.
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The book makes the case that the US government like the Soviet era government during the Cold War, used other weaker nations as strategic "satellites," to contain the other "political theory" in the political war between capitalism (US) & socialism (USSR) the capitialists won. However, Johnson points out that the US government is still playing by the same rules laid out in the cold war which in turn is costing the US major as far as monetary assets and "good-will" in the face of the citizens of other nations.
The stealth imperialism presented in this book is an eye opening and revealing experience for the reader. After reading this book you will look at the world in a completely new light. You will begin to read news stories and know that there in fact are more pieces to the story presented and you will likely be able to fit those pieces together based on the knowledge you have gained by reading BLOWBACK.
Johnson essentially argues that America has created an imperial system that will ultimately unravel of its own weight. In fact, his last two chapters, written, I believe, in the late 1990's are extraordinarily prophetic in this regard. Johnson basically avers that the American empire may finally be brought down through its own inherent economic contradictions. From the perspective of the ending years of the first decade of the 2000's, this judgment is really to be applauded.
Readers ought to be aware that this book deals almost exclusively with American imperial operations in East Asia. There is particular emphasis on Japan and China. In addition, there is much important information revealed relative to Korea, Indonesia, and Taiwan. Here, Johnson's insights are excellent, and extremely valuable. But, even noticing this, we must also point out that many of Johnson's judgments in regard to Japan and China are clearly influenced by the above mentioned association with such as Service, and are really inaccurate. In particular, I can report that, like Johnson, I served as a US Navy officer in Cold War Yokosuka, Japan. From having so served, I can also report that Johnson's description of Yokosuka is very misleading in certain aspects. There was no "brothel exclusively for Navy officers", as Johnson reports, of which I was aware. And, as Police Operations at the Fleet Activity in Yokosuka, I would very likely have been aware of one if it indeed existed. Now, it may be that one did exist in the fifties when Johnson served in Yokusuka. But it almost certainly did not in the seventies.
The writing is generally very good. And the points made are important. Some of the insights could rightly even be styled as extraordinary. However, we can't help but to observe that the overall quality of the book is deeply marred by the evident prejudices of the author, alluded to above. In general, we recommend this book, but with a "grain of salt".
Most recent customer reviews
Didn't think much of it. It's not very nuanced.Read more