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Book Review: Nemesis: Chalmers Johnson

Updated on February 8, 2012

Two books that I consider to be essential reading for anyone seriously interested in the "state of the union" as a loyal American are: The Sorrows of Empire and Nemesis by Chalmers Johnson. His essential thesis is that America is endeavoring to establish an Empire abroad while preserving a consititutional democracy at home, an effort which, according to Johnson, is doomed to failure. The forces required to establish an empire will inevitably subvert a democracy. George Washington was the first to warn Americans that standing armies are dangerous to Republics. Thoreau, in his famous essay, "Civil Disobedience" also reserves his strongest polemic to attack America's standing army. But most famously, Eisenhower warned Americans about the dangers of the military-industrial complex. Since Eisenhower, America has embarked on a path that has led to the establishment of 737 military bases around the globe. We hide these bases in our budgets and conceal from ourselves the naked power behind pieties about freedom and democracy. Our annual military budget total approaches one trillion dollars per year, but they are concealed in such a way that Americans are not truly cognizant of where their tax dollars are being spent. Johnson believes that we simply can't bear the burden of such costs indefinitely. We are closing in on economic collapse under the strain just as the USSR did before the fall of the Berlin wall. Johnson, as a retired professor who taught in the University of California system for thirty years, knows how to research and document his argument. Both books contain extensive documentation and references and are so persuasive that it is almost impossible to return to a naive point of view about America's intentions in the world. If you care about this country, read these books.

interview with Chalmers Johnson

Eisenhower on the military/industrial complex



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    • barranca profile image

      barranca 7 years ago

      Rest in Peace Chalmers!

    • barranca profile image

      barranca 10 years ago

    • Ralph Deeds profile image

      Ralph Deeds 10 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      Very interesting. Why don't your do a review of Naomi Klein's "The Shock Doctrine--The Rise of Disaster Capitalism" which I'm now about half-way through on your recommendation? Klein is quite a good reporter and analyst of what's been happening in the past few years.

    • robie2 profile image

      Roberta Kyle 10 years ago from Central New Jersey

      Thanks, Barranca, I will read both of the books.