The long-awaited final volume of Chalmers Johnson's bestselling
Blowback trilogy confronts the overreaching of the American empire and the threat it poses to the republic
In his prophetic book Blowback, Chalmers Johnson linked the CIA's clandestine activities abroad to disaster at home. In The Sorrows of Empire, he explored the ways in which the growth of American militarism and the garrisoning of the planet have jeopardized our stability. Now, in Nemesis, he shows how imperial overstretch is undermining the republic itself, both economically and politically.
Delving into new areas--from plans to militarize outer space to Constitution-breaking presidential activities at home and the devastating corruption of a toothless Congress--Nemesis offers a striking description of the trap into which the dreams of America's leaders have taken us. Drawing comparisons to empires past, Johnson explores in vivid detail just what the unintended consequences of our dependence on a permanent war economy are likely to be. What does it mean when a nation's main intelligence organization becomes the president's secret army? Or when the globe's sole "hyperpower," no longer capable of paying for the vaulting ambitions of its leaders, becomes the greatest hyper-debtor of all times?
In his stunning conclusion, Johnson suggests that financial bankruptcy could herald the breakdown of constitutional government in America--a crisis that may ultimately prove to be the only path to a renewed nation.
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.)
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February 06, 2007
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