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Life Arts    H2'ed 9/27/10

Dismantle the empire - or face insolvency

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"hanging on to our military empire and all the bases that go with it will ultimately spell the end of the United States as we know it."

The economy

The third factor that is the basic one for all the arguments about the decline and fall of the empire is economic. This concern can be sub-texted in several ways: the costs of the mercenary armies; the pork-barrel economy of a Congress that "is no longer responsive to the people;" the military bases as introduced above; and the industrial economy based within the Pentagon.

Johnson reiterates that the military economy of the U.S. is more than that of all the other world militaries combined, with many unknowns including the black hole of the unaccountable Pentagon. Another factor is the money used for the military is money not used for infrastructure of anything else like hospitals, transportation, education, or a social safety net, all of which would be much more highly beneficial to the people of the United States. It is impossible to know what "innovations' would or would not have risen from technological knowledge, although previous histories would indicate that technology that has helped humans has operated more or less independently of the various imperial armies of the past. Money spent on the military - in spite of the pork-barrel politics that disperses the money around every state in many different industries from Lockheed Martin and Boeing to Kodak and Intel to garner leverage for votes in congress - does not help the economy, but hinders its growth.

One of the largest factors for the economy is the sheer size of the budget for the military, estimated at over a trillion dollars a year, all of which needs to be borrowed from foreign countries. China and Japan are major owners of U.S. debt and could sink the U.S. dollar in an instant if that were required due to unexpected military adventurism that appeared to be endangering their rising prosperity. The consequences of the U.S. military economy is "we face probable national insolvency and a long depression". the bankruptcy of the United States is inevitable." [italics added]

The military economy is also affected by the current trend in privatization of garrisoning the bases, the employment of private security firms, and the "public-private' partnerships in U.S. corporate structures that are "a convenient cover for the perpetuation of corporate interests."


The corporate sector has become a "dominant partner with the state," fulfilling the argument that fascism should be called corporatism "because it was a merger of state and corporate power." Because "a corporation [is] less amenable to public or congressional scrutiny," these relationships "afford the private sector an added measure of security from [public] scrutiny." The main motive of big business is "to replace democratic institutions with those representing the interests of capital." This latter point is obvious when the institutions of the "Washington consensus' - the IMF, World Bank - and other more obvious corporate entities such as the WTO and the OECD are deciding many of the rules of international economic interaction.

All of which means that democracy is taking a hit. Johnson is quite clear and explicit in the matter - the United States can either be an empire, or it can be a democracy, it cannot be both. The "consequences for democratic governance" of "military and intelligence functions".may prove irreparable."

Decline and fall

Could it be made any more clear? Chalmers Johnson has not pulled any punches, nor worded his arguments in polite academic arguments or obscure wording. It seems so simple and obvious to some that serious changes are required if the U.S. is to be a democracy and a model to the rest of the world rather than an imperial overlord extracting resources at the expense of many lives, the democratic ideal, and much anger and hatred directed at the U.S. Using examples of the British and Soviet empires, Johnson concludes "If we do not learn from their examples, our decline and fall is foreordained." [italics added]

Johnson's longer works provide ample evidence and arguments to back up his shorter essays (which are also well referenced). Dismantle the Empire is a must read for anyone looking for a quick, concise, and meaningful information concerning the future of the American Empire.

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Jim Miles is a Canadian educator and analyst who examines the world through a syncretic lens. His analysis of international and domestic geopolitical ideas and actions incorporates a lifetime of interest in current events, a desire to (more...)

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