Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Dismantling The Empire – By Chalmers Johnson – A Review

Thomm wrote a post in called Not the List. In which Thomm put forth the idea that the US is not an Empire and is still a great nation. It caused a little bit of commentary and caused me to learn about Chalmers Johnson and I decided to order and read his newest collection of essays called Dismantling The Empire.

If you love this country “right or wrong” or if you liked George W. Bush as a president even a little I would avoid this book. Chalmers hates W with a passion. Not that I really disagree with him in many of the remarks he makes, but I never hated the guy, I just never wanted to vote for him. Of course I never wanted to vote for the other guy either. I voted for Ron Paul last time.

The basic premise that I came away from with this book is that the US Empire of foreign military bases and the military industrial complex is the main thing that is driving this country to ruination, financial collapse and creating the negative image that he claims the rest of the world has of the United States. He also claims that W and his group drove us further down this road that any other president before him and that W may have been the worst president we ever had. At the end of the book he does get upset with Obama because he is continuing the vast military industrial complex and not working to dismantle it, but still seems to almost blow kisses to Obama compared to his vitriol toward W.

In many of the passages I found myself agreeing with his main premises, but I also found some of his essays ignoring other political realities that were occurring at the time. Plus I could not actually sit down and read the book, I skimmed read it and slowed down when my interest was piqued and read it in more detail at those times. Since it is a series of essays, Johnson is often making the same point as he made in a prior essay.

What the book does effectively point out is that the CIA and the US’ vast military bases and associated holdings all over the world make no sense now and maybe never did. In addition some of the things that we have done over the course of time with our vast wealth and military could full a museum the size of Raven’s stadium with mementoes of shame. To be balanced he could have mentioned the positives we have done, but that would offset the valid points he was driving home.

I can’t comment on all the history and whys and wherefores of yesterday, but I agree that the CIA should be abolished and we need to dismantle and sell off the vast majority of our military bases. The problem is that the powerful interest that run the Pentagon and the military suppliers are so huge that we are afraid to pull the plug on all of the jobs that this monster creates. The reality is we can no longer afford it. The other reality is it won’t end until it crashes and burns as the US falls into a form of financial bankruptcy, which is inevitable.

If you want your eyes open it is a worthwhile read as Johnson provides information and history about the over 700 bases we have worldwide and the at least 600 plus billion we spend every year maintaining this façade.

The US is a great country, but one that is in decline and in a serious decline. We need to have the will power and courage to make the hard choices to again become that nation we always dreamed we were. It will take a generation or more of harder choices and changing our lifestyles in some manners, but a different tomorrow can be a better tomorrow. It is not our place to decide who rules where and what is done with other nation’s resources. We can’t pay for everyone to have everything, but we can still be a country where you can start with nothing and end up with whatever you want or at least have that chance.

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