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Remembering Chalmers Ashby Johnson (8/6/31 - 11/20/10)

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Remembering Chalmers Ashby Johnson (8/6/31 - 11/20/10) - by Stephen Lendman

A personal note. 

It's no way to begin a Sunday or any day. An email explained. My first thought was: damn, we lost another good one when we urgently need him and many others, given the state of today's America - out-of-control militarism, imperial arrogance, and homeland repression at a time of economic crisis for millions. Johnson knew the threat, challenging it brilliantly in his important writings and outspokenness. Now he's gone.

A former cold warrior, Chal, as friends called him, turned activist critic of US foreign policy, an imperial agenda doomed to fail. When the Cold War ended, he saw no further logic to US global bases, continued heightened militarism, and occupation of Japan, South Korea, Germany and elsewhere.

Peace breaking out was glorious. "Give Peace A Chance," wrote John Lennon, his Rock and Roll Hall of Fame song predated it by a decade. 

In a March 2006 Tom Engelhardt interview, Johnson said:

"I was a cold warrior. There's no doubt about that. I believed the Soviet Union was a genuine menace. I still think so....As I saw it, the only justification for our monster military apparatus, its size, the amounts spent on it, the growth of the Military-Industrial Complex....was the existence of the Soviet Union and its determination to match us."

After it imploded, he thought: "What an incredible vindication for the United States. Now it's over, and the time has come for a real victory dividend, a genuine peace dividend. The question was: Would the US behave as it had in the past when big wars came to an end?" Instead, we "began to seek an alternative enemy. Our leaders simply could not contemplate dismantling the apparatus of the Cold War. That was, I thought, shocking....I was flabbergasted and felt the need to understand what had happened."

Maintaining heightened militarism "suggest(ed) that the Cold War was, in fact, a cover for something else; that something else being an American empire intentionally created during World War II as the successor to the British Empire. The Cold War was not the clean-cut conflict between totalitarian and democratic values that we had claimed it to be."

Most ominous about US imperialism is that "militarism is so central to ours....not (for) national defense....but as a way of life, as a way of getting rich or getting comfortable. (Yet it's) bankrupting the country...This is not free enterprise. (It's) state socialism," heading us for ruin. "And the precedents for this should really terrify us."

Johnson ended the interview quoting Pogo's observation, saying: "We have met the enemy and he is us."

On November 21, Steve Clemens wrote about the man he knew, worked with, and admired, his article titled, "The Impact Today and Tomorrow of Chalmers Johnson." Calling him "incorruptible and passionate about policy, theory and their practice," he can't "fathom him being gone....I just can't imagine that this blustery, irreverent, completely brilliant force won't be there to challenge Washington and academia." He "defied society's and life's rules and commanded an enormous following of acolytes and enemies."

His wife and lifelong intellectual partner, Sheila Johnson, a Ph.D in anthropology, a distinguished scholar in her own right, wrote this on her husband's passing:

"At about 1PM on Saturday, November 20, Chal breathed his last. Chal was in hospice care here at home for ten weeks. We tried to keep him as comfortable as possible, and many evenings our cat Seiji slept on his bed to keep him company."

Noting his last four books, she said "They paint a gloomy picture of a way of life grown old, and they perhaps cannot change the course of history, but they were written with the hope that readers would gain greater understanding as to what is happening to our Republic and the world." More on his books below.

A Brief Profile

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I was born in 1934, am a retired, progressive small businessman concerned about all the major national and world issues, committed to speak out and write about them.
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In your eulogy of Chalmers Johnson your quotes of ... by Stewart Wechsler on Tuesday, Nov 23, 2010 at 1:10:40 PM
I wrote a book review of Johnson's Sorrows of Empi... by GLloyd Rowsey on Tuesday, Nov 23, 2010 at 10:45:59 PM
Chalmers was a person who spoke truth to power, ev... by John Little on Wednesday, Nov 24, 2010 at 12:24:02 AM