- Series: American Empire Project
- Hardcover: 368 pages
- Publisher: Metropolitan Books; 1st edition (February 6, 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0805079114
- ISBN-13: 978-0805079111
- Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.3 x 9.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 112 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,084,541 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic (American Empire Project) Hardcover – February 6, 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
Like ancient Rome, America is saddled with an empire that is fatally undermining its republican government, argues Johnson (The Sorrows of Empire), in this bleak jeremiad. He surveys the trappings of empire: the brutal war of choice in Iraq and other foreign interventions going back decades; the militarization of space; the hundreds of overseas U.S. military bases full of "swaggering soldiers who brawl and sometimes rape." At home, the growth of an "imperial presidency," with the CIA as its "private army," has culminated in the Bush administration's resort to warrantless wiretaps, torture, a "gulag" of secret CIA prisons and an unconstitutional arrogation of "dictatorial" powers, while a corrupt Congress bows like the Roman Senate to Caesar. Retribution looms, the author warns, as the American economy, dependent on a bloated military-industrial complex and foreign borrowing, staggers toward bankruptcy, maybe a military coup. Johnson's is a biting, often effective indictment of some ugly and troubling features of America's foreign policy and domestic politics. But his doom-laden trope of empire ("the capacity for things to get worse is limitless.... the American republic may be coming to its end") seems overstated. With Bush a lame duck, not a Caesar, and his military adventures repudiated by the electorate, the Republic seems more robust than Johnson allows. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
The third book in a series begun with Blowback (2000), which predicted harsh comeuppance for the post-cold war American "global empire," and The Sorrows of Empire (2004), which continued Johnson's thesis with a lambasting of American militarism pre- and post-September 11, this book continues the author's broad condemnation of American foreign policy by warning of imminent constitutional and economic collapse. In a chapter analyzing "comparative imperial pathologies," Johnson reminds readers of Hannah Arendt's point that successful imperialism requires that democratic systems give way to tyranny and asserts that the U.S. must choose between giving up its empire of military bases (as did Britain after World War II) or retaining the bases at the expense of its democracy (as did Rome). Johnson also predicts dire consequences should the U.S. continue to militarize low Earth orbits in pursuit of security. To some extent a timely response to recent arguments in favor of American empire, such as those of Niall Ferguson in Colossus, this account also reiterates Johnson's perennial concerns about overseas military bases, the CIA, and the artifice of a defense-fueled economy. Brendan Driscoll
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Chalmers Johnson was one of the first Americans to recognize that our actions will have repercussions and he coined the term "blowback". This book is a good introduction to his thinking and will help broaden the perspective and add to the understanding of those with an open mind. I appreciate that having an open mind is not at all common in the United States where bigotry rules the day. It is far easier for the elites to control a population when they are able to set one faction against another.
"Keynesianism" is named for the great British economist John Maynard Keynes who wrote "The Economic Consequences of the Peace" (about the disastrous economic consequences of the Versaille Treaty - which would eventually lead to Hitler), "The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money" published in 1936 and other influential books. In his writings and public career he developed a scheme to save captitalist economies from cycles of boom and bust as well as the severe decline of consumer spending that occurs in periods of depression. To prevent the economy from contracting and the social unrest that might ensue, Keynes thought that the government should step in, and, through deficit spending, put people back to work. Conversely, during periods of prosperity, he thought government should cut spending and rebuild the treasury. He called his plan counter-cyclical "pump-priming."
During the New Deal in the 1930s the United States put Keynesianism into practice with great success but they also saw the rudimentary beginnings of a backlash. Conservative capitalists feared that too much government intervention would delegitimate and demystify capitalism as an economic system that works by allegedly "quasi-natural laws." They also feared that too much spending on social welfare might shift the balance of power in society from the capitalist class to the working class and its unions. At first they tried to hold back counter-cyclical spending but World War II intervened and unleashed a torrent of public funds for weapons.
The term "Military Keynesianism" was coined in 1943 by the Polish economist in exile Micha Kalecki to explain Nazi Germany's success in overcoming the Great Depression and achieving full employment. Before World War II Hitler was celebrated around for world for having achieved a "German economic miracle." However, this was accomplished by employing counter cyclical pump-priming for military purposes. The military thus becomes an employer of last resort, like the old Civilian Conservation Corps but on a much larger scale. The negative aspects of Military Keynesianism include its encouragement of militarism and the potential to encourage a military-industrial complex. Such a complex sooner or later short circuits Keynes insistence that government spending be cut back in times of nearly full employment - in other words it becomes a permanent institution whose "pump" must always be primed.
The two most prominent generals in our history have given us warnings of the dangers militarism in a democracy. George Washington, in his farewell address, warns about the threat of standing armies to liberty, and particularly republican liberty. And perhaps the more famous one, Dwight Eisenhower, also in in his farewell address, where he invented the phrase "military-industrial complex" - he wanted to say "military-industrial-congressional complex" but was advised not to go that far. Today, fifty years later, the "miitary-industrial-congressional complex" is a fact of life and has permeated into all but a handful of Congressional districts.
The Pentagon tries to conceal the real cost of the military in various ways. There are numerous military activities not carried on by the Dept. of Defense and are, therefore, not part of the Defense Budget. Adding the non-Defense Deptartment expenditures, the supplemental approriations for whatever wars are being fought at the time, and the military contruction budget to the Defense Appropriations Bill actuallly doubles what the government calls the annual defnse budget. It is an amount larger than all other defense budgets on earth. Still to be covered are interest payments for the cost of past wars going back to 1916!
The combination of huge standing armies, almost continuous wars, and ruinous military expenses have destroyed our republican structure in favor an imperial presidency. Once a nation is started down that path, the dynamics that apply to all empires come into play: isolation, overstretch, the uniting of forces opposed to imperialsim and bankruptcy. Our present policies appear to be unsustainable; we can't go on like this indefinitely. As Herbert Stein, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors during the Nixon Administration, once famously said: "Things that can't go on forever, don't."