One of the major thinkers on US foreign policy whose pre-9/11 book Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire made the concept of ‘blowback’ a key element in understanding why the US is in such a predicament, died on Saturday.
Steve Clemons reflects on his legacy. He says that Johnson started out as an establishment figure and strong supporter of the Vietnam war but later became on of the biggest and most influential critics of the drive towards creating and sustaining the American empire. As Clemons says, “Many of Johnson’s followers and Chal himself think that American democracy is lost, that the republic has been destroyed by an embrace of empire and that the American public is unaware and unconscious of the fix.”
Richard Frost says
Very, very sorry to learn of Chalmers Johnson’s passing. We have lost a truly great American, a latter-day Madison. Thanks for the link to Clemons’s site (where other articles and videos can be found).
As I commented on Clemons’s page, one couldn’t help sensing that Chalmers Johnson was profoundly depressed in his later years. I vividly remember him half-joking, when interviewed on CSPAN’s Book TV, that he didn’t need to care about the coming collapse of the American empire because he wouldn’t be around to see it. But, of course, he cared deeply about America’s decline, and wrote about it better than almost anyone else.
His books are some of the most treasured in my library -- gripping, outrage-inducing page-turners. We owe it to him to absorb the lessons of this great teacher. Perhaps he won’t turn out to be a Cassandra after all. But given the results of this last election, there is even loss cause for optimism than there was before.