EMPIRE 'Sorrows of..." - Chalmers Johnson 03-2006

Sent: July 12, 2006


Read both parts of this all-too-brief interview and the 8-page whitepaper; then buy the guy’s book; then plan accordingly.

My best guess is that we have between 5 and 20 years before we will “feel” uncomfortable enough to get off our collective dead ass; either to help save this work in progress (our republic), or - to use the talking point of the day - to cut & run. Between now and then, lebenty-dozen scenarios present themselves to my mind; most of them not-so-good.

Johnson is only one of many to paint a bleak picture of this country’s prospects – and his view is even darker than most of the Lefties. Academics, like Johnson, while they tend to drift to port (the Left) – academic freedom, and all that – are mainly apolitical and historical. That’s why we pay more attention when they speak of a nation’s place in history. If my ken of Roman history was better, I’d be able to reel off a bunch of Roman historians who – over 4 or 5 centuries – did their best to alert the sated and smug populace to their own period’s Sorrows of Empire.

While I fear for my country when minds of Johnson’s stature seem to have thrown in the towel, I cannot join with his conclusion that this grand experiment is done for. History teaches that, so far, all the dictums of dire despair have been derailed by unforseen turns of serendipity and Dame Fortune’s intervention. Few of these paradigm-bending events have emanated from the top.

My darker visions include states voting to secede (as indeed half of them have the right to – it’s how they joined the union), then being forcefully repatriated, with all the havoc that would ensue; forming unions with other nations (Canada & Japan come to mind) or with other states to form new nations; or refusing to fund the Washington octopus altogether.

On the economy, I see rows of empty homes, their owners belly-up due to predatory and unregulated adjustable loan practices and the precipitous drop in real estate values when Economics 101 becomes the real estate rule (too many sellers chasing too few buyers); shadowy figures selling knock-off Ipods (we’ll have moved on from apples) in order to eat; businesses shuttered for lack of a viable “middle” middle-class eager to buy their wares; scores of talent and capital making a traitorous run for the (metaphorical) border and more hospitable markets and exploitable economies; folks more fit by the day as they take to their bicycles in the face of $7 or $8 gas – smaller cars and smaller homes – much smaller homes, bringing gold-rush premiums as folks allow their 2,800 sq ft, 3/2, 2-car garagers to go back to the banks, unable to pay the $2,000 monthly heating bill or the 5,000 insurance premium; and for that reason, witnessing a mass migration to warmer climes as the tariff to ward off the cold of even 2-dog nights becomes too dear.

All of these events are occurring as I write this, just only here and there, and not enough to kick up a fuss or trumpet as a trend. But, they’re coming as sure as tumultuous change always enters on little pink feet. All the while a nation sleeps, smug in its uneasily secure fortress America.

It would not be the first time in our brief recorded chronology that hubris, arrogance, and myopia (the Three Horsemen of Stupidity) have rued the day. It’s just that, this time, it’s us. What a waste! We were the ones who were supposed to get it right. Right?

Sorry Right & Left: there’s not much red meat for you here; just lots of mind-numbing facts. This dude is almost O-C D non-partisan. He thinks Congresses – present and past – are too far under the military-industrial thumb; see if you agree.

The 4 “Sorrows” to which Johnson refers (and to which he is convinced America is condemned) are:

1 A perpetual state of war;

2 The decline of democracy and Constitutional rights;

3 The replacement of truth by propaganda and disinformation;

4 National bankruptcy.

Interview Part I http://www.tomdispatch.com/index.mhtml?pid=70243 03-21-06

Interview Part II http://www.tomdispatch.com/index.mhtml?pid=70576 03-22-06

Whitepaper – 8pp http://presentdanger.irc-online.org/pdf/reports/SRsorrows2003.pdf 11-2003

And I leave you with a paraphrase of one of Johnson’s (many) almost casual profundities:

If the Neocon goal of world domination (the oxymoronic, “coerced democratization”, in its latest iteration) has any chance of actually becoming the paradigm for world peace and progress, doesn’t it bode ill for such dreams of glory when – at the outset - our vaunted, trillion dollar, military machine in Iraq is being fought to a standstill by a rag-tag bunch of fourth-rate terrorists and religious zealots using home-made weapons comprised of cellphones, duct tape, and ten-penny nails? After all, we need to get past these two failed states before moving on to the other 38 bad guys, eh? Let’s see, at 4 years a country (assuming there’s no backsliding into, uh, poppy-growing), and $150 billion a year, it’ll only cost a mere $180 trillion, and we’ll be done by 2123! (somebody check my math)


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