The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic (Blowback Trilogy)

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9781433204814: The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic (Blowback Trilogy)

After the Soviet Union imploded, the United States was described first as the globe's "lone superpower," then as "reluctant sheriff," and, in the wake of 9/11, as a "New Rome." In this important best-seller, Chalmers Johnson explores the new militarism that is transforming America and compelling its people to pick up the burden of empire.

Recalling the classic warnings against militarism--from George Washington's farewell address to Dwight Eisenhower's denunciation of the military-industrial complex--Johnson turns to the present, showing that this militarism is already putting an end to the age of globalization, bankrupting the United States, and creating 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.

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Review:

Since September 2001, the United States has "undergone a transformation from republic to empire that may well prove irreversible," writes Chalmers Johnson. Unlike past global powers, however, America has built an empire of bases rather than colonies, creating in the process a government that is obsessed with maintaining absolute military dominance over the world, Johnson claims. The Department of Defense currently lists 725 official U.S. military bases outside of the country and 969 within the 50 states (not to mention numerous secret bases). According to the author, these bases are proof that the "United States prefers to deal with other nations through the use or threat of force rather than negotiations, commerce, or cultural interaction." This rise of American militarism, along with the corresponding layers of bureaucracy and secrecy that are created to circumvent scrutiny, signals a shift in power from the populace to the Pentagon: "A revolution would be required to bring the Pentagon back under democratic control," he writes.

In Sorrows of Empire, Johnson discusses the roots of American militarism, the rise and extent of the military-industrial complex, and the close ties between arms industry executives and high-level politicians. He also looks closely at how the military has extended the boundaries of what constitutes national security in order to centralize intelligence agencies under their control and how statesmen have been replaced by career soldiers on the front lines of foreign policy--a shift that naturally increases the frequency with which we go to war.

Though his conclusions are sure to be controversial, Johnson is a skilled and experienced historian who backs up his claims with copious research and persuasive arguments. His important book adds much to a debate about the realities and direction of U.S. influence in the world. --Shawn Carkonen

About the Author:

Chalmers Johnson, president of the Japan Policy Research Institute, is the author of the bestselling books Blowback, The Sorrows of Empire, and Nemesis, which make up his Blowback Trilogy. He has written for the Los Angeles Times, the London Review of Books, Harper's Magazine, Nation, and TomDispatch.com. He lives near San Diego, California.



Tom Weiner, a dialogue director and voice artist best known for his roles in video games and television shows such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Transformers, is an Earphones Award winner and Audie Award finalist. He is a former member of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

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