The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic

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Macmillan, Jan 13, 2004 - History - 389 pages
85 Reviews
From the author of the prophetic national bestseller Blowback, a startling look at militarism, American style, and its consequences abroad and at home

In the years after the Soviet Union imploded, the United States was described first as the globe’s “lone superpower,” then as a “reluctant sheriff,” next as the “indispensable nation,” and now, in the wake of 9/11, as a “New Rome.” Here, Chalmers Johnson thoroughly explores the new militarism that is transforming America and compelling its people to pick up the burden of empire.

Reminding us of the classic warnings against militarism—from George Washington’s farewell address to Dwight Eisenhower’s denunciation of the military-industrial complex—Johnson uncovers its roots deep in our past. Turning to the present, he maps America’s expanding empire of military bases and the vast web of services that supports them. He offers a vivid look at the new caste of professional warriors who have infiltrated multiple branches of government, who classify as “secret” everything they do, and for whom the manipulation of the military budget is of vital interest.

Among Johnson’s provocative conclusions is that American militarism is putting an end to the age of globalization and bankrupting the United States, even as it creates the conditions for a new century of virulent blowback. The Sorrows of Empire suggests that the former American republic has already crossed its Rubicon—with the Pentagon leading the way.
Chalmers Johnson is president of the Japan Policy Research Institute, a non-profit research and public affairs organization devoted to public education concerning Japan and international relations in the Pacific. He taught for thirty years, 1962-1992, at the Berkeley and San Diego campuses of the University of California and held endowed chairs in Asian politics at both of them. At Berkeley he served as chairman of the Center for Chinese Studies and as chairman of the Department of Political Science. His B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. degrees in economics and political science are all from the University of California, Berkeley.

He first visited Japan in 1953 as a U.S. Navy officer and has lived and worked there with his wife, the anthropologist Sheila K. Johnson, virtually every year since 1961. Chalmers Johnson has been honored with fellowships from the Ford Foundation, the Social Science Research Council, and the Guggenheim Foundation; and in 1976 he was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He has written numerous articles and reviews and some fifteen books, including Peasant Nationalism and Communist Power on the Chinese revolution, An Instance of Treason on Japan's most famous spy, Revolutionary Change on the theory of violent protest movements, and MITI and the Japanese Miracle on Japanese economic development. This last-named book laid the foundation for the "revisionist" school of writers on Japan, and because of it the Japanese press dubbed him the "Godfather of revisionism."

He was chairman of the academic advisory committee for the PBS television series "The Pacific Century," and he played a prominent role in the PBS "Frontline" documentary "Losing the War with Japan." Both won Emmy awards. His most recent books are, as editor and contributor, Okinawa: Cold War Island; Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire (which won the 2001 American Book Award of the Before Columbus Foundation); and The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic.
In the years after the Soviet Union imploded, the United States was described first as the globe's "lone superpower," then as a "reluctant sheriff," next as the "indispensable nation," and, in the wake of 9/11, as a "New Rome." Here, Chalmers Johnson thoroughly explores the new militarism that is transforming America and compelling its people to pick up the burden of empire.

Reminding us of the classic warnings against militarism—from George Washington's Farewell Address to Dwight Eisenhower's denunciation of the military-industrial complex—Johnson uncovers its roots deep in our past. Turning to the present, he maps America's expanding empire of military bases and the vast web of services that support them. He offers a vivid look at the new caste of professional militarists who have infiltrated multiple branches of government, who classify as "secret" everything they do, and for whom the manipulation of the military budget is of vital interest.

Among Johnson's provocative conclusions is that American militarism is already putting an end to the age of globalization, and bankrupting the United States even as it creates the conditions for a new century of virulent blowback. The Sorrows of Empire suggests that the former American republic has already crossed its Rubicon—with the Pentagon in the lead.
"Exhaustive . . . Johnson, an Asia scholar and onetime consultant for the CIA, [produces] voluminous research on the many United States military and intelligence outposts unknown to most Americans, and weaves a frightening picture of a military-industrial complex grown into exactly the powerful, secretive force that Dwight D. Eisenhower warned against—made more dangerous by an aggressive executive branch, creating a state of perpetual war and economic bankruptcy. His assessment is chilling."—Serge Schmemann, The New York Times Book Review
"Exhaustive . . . Johnson, an Asia scholar and onetime consultant for the CIA, [produces] voluminous research on the many United States military and intelligence outposts unknown to most Americans, and weaves a frightening picture of a military-industrial complex grown into exactly the powerful, secretive force that Dwight D. Eisenhower warned against—made more dangerous by an aggressive executive branch, creating a state of perpetual war and economic bankruptcy. His assessment is chilling."—Serge Schmemann, The New York Times Book Review

"Johnson devotes most of his book to examining the numerous foreign bases (which have proliferated since the end of the Cold War), the often legitimate reasons for their initial establishment, the outrages that American servicemen from them perpetrate on their hosts, as well as the comforts and benefits of empire and militarism that prevent their abandonment. Johnson believes that the initial post-Cold War base expansion was aimed at supporting America's century-old economic imperialism, now called 'globalization.' But with the election of the 'boy emperor' and the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, 'the United States shifted decisively from economic to military imperialism,' which undermined international law and organizations, weakened democracy at home, replaced truth with propaganda, and courted financial ruin. Johnson's superbly researched book is also an angry book. But who can blame him?"—Walter C. Uhler, San Francisco Chronicle

"A scathing and scary indictment of America's military expansion to all corners of the globe."—John Wilkens, The San Diego Union-Tribune

"[An] enormously useful study."—Ronald Steel, The Nation

"Every page of The Sorrows of Empire0 burns with fierce indignation at the sacrifice of American rights, values, and economic well-being in the name of conquest and empire. Chalmers Johnson has produced a blistering critique of the Bush Administration's militaristic foreign policy and its dangerous infatuation with high-tec
  

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Review: The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic

User Review  - Joseph Montuori - Goodreads

Johnson's thesis is simply that the United States government has, in fact, established an empire, largely in the post-Second World War period. It's aim is to secure and maintain military, strategic ... Read full review

Review: The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic

User Review  - Goodreads

This is a very good book, number two in the "Blowback" trilogy. It is sad to witness the shameful behavior of Empire, but we are here nonetheless. Will human beings ever get to the point where ... Read full review

Contents

The Unveiling of the American Empire
1
The Sorrows of Empire
283
Notes
313
Acknowledgments
367
Copyright

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About the author (2004)

Chalmers Johnson, president of the Japan Policy Research Institute & professor emeritus at the University of California, San Diego, has written numerous books on Japan & Asia including his classic "Miti & the Japanese Miracle" & "Japan: Who Governs?" He lives near San Diego.

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