3 Reasons to “Liquidate” the American Empire

In his latest book, Dismantling the Empire: America’s Last Best Hope, Chalmers Johnson explores a theme familiar to readers of his bestselling Blowback Trilogy (Blowback, The Sorrows of Empire, and Nemesis): American empire, its causes, its costs, and its consequences. His argument is straightforward: we “must liquidate our empire or else it watch it liquidate us.” And he gives these three reasons:

1. “We can no longer afford our postwar expansionism.”
Johnson points out that the United States budget deficit as of 2010 stands at close to $1.75 trillion, and that’s not including the cost of US military campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan. He grants that the Obama administration has announced cuts–to the tune of some 9 billion–in wasteful weapons spending, but says ”far bolder cuts in our military expenditures will obviously be required in the very near future if we intend to maintain any semblance of fiscal integrity.”

2. “We are going to lose the war in Afghanistan and it will help bankrupt us.”
Between Pakistani duplicitousness; poor intelligence; the seeming impossibility of establishing control over the lawless tribal areas; the ambivalence–at best–toward the US project of the Afghani population; and the lack of a coherent strategy, the US campaign is doomed, he argues. ”We should recognize that we are wasting time, lives, and resources in an area where we have never understood the political dynamics and continue to make the wrong choices.”

3. “We need to end the secret shame of our empire of bases.”
The United States maintains a global network of hundreds of bases, from which, Johnson argues, U.S. servicemen have perpetrated sexual violence against local women and girls “preying on them like foreign conquerors.” He goes on: ”The problem of rape has been ubiquitous around all of our bases on every continent and has probably contributed as much to our being loathed abroad as the policies of the Bush administration or our economic exploitation of poverty-stricken countries whose raw materials we covet.” He adds that Status of Forces Agreements between the US and host governments prevent the latter from gaining jurisdiction over troops who commit crimes overseas, which only serves to aggravate tensions. The only thing to be done, he writes, is to ”radically reduce the size of our standing army and bring the troops home from countries where they do not understand their environments and have been taught to think of the inhabitants as inferior to themselves.”

This post first appeared on the blog of the Progressive Book Club.

by The U.S. Army
By Progressive Book Club Blogger


Ann W.
Ann W7 years ago

Which would we rather maintain. Think about this. The space shuttle program -- which carries satellites from Europe and Asia -- or the secret empire of bases? Which helps our image and our allies, and which hurts our economy and morale?

lyn L.
l L7 years ago

I read part of a book once and it was so far fetched, I put it down. Now years later, being older I now entertain whether the book had truth to it.Being religious and reasonable I read that the devil and 1/3 of heaven was kicked out of that Utopia and at some point landed on earth. I always wondered at the craziness and cruelty of the leaders of this planet. I have been always praying hoping for break thru's of goodness and over a life time it is always a new fight, that I get tired. The other book I mentioned talked of beings who ruled this earth and pitted religions againsts each other for their benefit. As I wonder at the evil minds of fox trot and all the different forms of rulerships and world leaders of the past. It's not impossible. There must be a reason this world is so bigotted, so mean and yet threads of goodness. I wish someone who really knows could tell us what is really going on here and who really it is that is in charge of this planet. Pull the cover off and let us see their faces so we can stop fighting one another. We that are human that is.

Elvis C.
Elvis C7 years ago

we live in a different world we need to do think diff.

Jim Steve
Jim Steve7 years ago

Morgan, To be fair, there were a handful of Democrats that have voted against funding the Wars, and US empire. Some of those voted so, not because they believe the US should minding it's own business, but because they thought the money should be spent here.

Most Democrats are, in fact, pro US Empire. It's part of a control mentality almost those who are in power have. Control people here through debt, regulation. domination of education, information, the economy through the Fed, and so on. Control people overseas by economic coercion and military force. Same mentality applied using different methods.

The human race will not advance as long as we allow those of that mentality to have power over us.

Ant m.
Ant m7 years ago

Just waite till the muslims take over, things will be different then......

Morgan G.
Morgan Getham7 years ago

OK, so how many members of congress have NEVER voted for ANY authorizations or appropriations for the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan? Next to none. The one that stands out, of course, is Congressman Ron Paul, who advocates a military policy very much like the one presented here.

Foreign adventurism and being "the world's policeman" is not something that the United States has any business doing. We need to maintain enough of a token force around the world that if the vital interests of the US are threatened we are able to respond at once with convincing force. But this does not require the kinds of commitments overseas that we have today, quite apart from the middle eastern wars.

Jose L.
Jose L.7 years ago

Yo felicito a Cynthia por su humildad y sinceridad al expresar éstas tres razones.No muchos ciudadanos de EE.UU tienen la valentía de decir éstas verdades.Veo en ésta declaración un alto concepto de democracia. Dios la bendiga abundantemente.

Jose L.
Jose L.7 years ago

Yo felicito a Cynthia por su humildad y sinceridad al expresar éstas tres razones.No muchos ciudadanos de EE.UU tienen la valentía de decir éstas verdades.Veo en ésta declaración un alto concepto de democracia. Dios la bendiga abundantemente.

Grace A.
Grace Adams7 years ago

WAR IS HELL. If corporations really need to mess with countries other than the United States, they should hire some mercenaries like Halliburton at their own expense instead of expecting the federal government to send United States soldiers at taxpayer expense.

Tierney G.
Tierney G7 years ago

I agree with LLoyd in fact I just heard the other day that Iraq has more oil than Iran. Hmmm I guess Bush and Co were really pulling the wool over to get that oil! Lies, lies ,lies equals lives, lives, lives.