Showing posts with label anarchy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label anarchy. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

State's Rights?

Photo: “You will say God wants me to be President or I will show you how they did things in Viet Nam.”

Or “Admit it! God is Dead! Right? Right?”



Recent events in Palestine emphasize the need to re-examine the notion of “rights” as they apply to abstractions and inanimate objects. Much of the current discussion is doomed to failure and further human suffering and exploitation until we do. As usual, the real problem is not in the attitudes or will, but in the basic but hidden premise underlying the discussion.

The situation in Palestine thus becomes an obvious and ideal problem from which to start this analysis. The current boycott of the democratically elected authority in Palestine is being subjected to sanctions. Israel, under a prior arrangement, collects taxes for Palestine and then turns them over. Since the election, it keeps them. It invaded a neighboring country while maintaining a state of siege against the Palestinians. The transgressions are too numerous to list here (Jimmie Carter’s book APARTEID IN PALESTINE) does a good job of that, but all of them are now justified with one assertion: the Palestinian authority or Hamas must acknowledge Israel’s “Right to Exist.”

On the surface, this sound quite reasonable and, in fact, minimal. It sounds positively generous. “Is that all? Well, they are not asking much,” is the obvious reaction. In fact, it is doubtful any observer would find this demand or request unreasonable.

It, however, is a fact that Yasar Arafat made this concession decades ago, and he wound up surrounded by the Israeli army in a building in Ramallah with all electricity and indoor plumbing shut off for months and was under siege until he died. Nothing positive was accomplished. This, however, is besides the point as nothing positive will be accomplished.

Yet there is another example that shows an inconsistency. Let us suppose for a moment that states do have rights. The U.S. declared Iraq a sovereign state in 2004 after the “free election” (during which Shia voters were given the option of voting or going to Mecca for the pilgrimage). Why, then, did Israel ask the U.S. for permission to fly over Iraq to bomb Iran? Should they not, to be consistent, at least ask Iraq for such permission?

Why was there no exit strategy for us in Iraq? Quite obviously because we never intended to exit, but rather intended to build more military bases there. (See interview, below.)

Or we could look at Iran. If the U.S., Israel, Pakistan, and India have a right to have nuclear weapons, why not Iran? Iraq was invaded because it did not have a nuke. North Korea was not because it did have one. If you ran Iran, what would you choose?

There are also more personal issues. A woman is raped and made pregnant. How does any institution appropriate the right to say “Thou shalt carry to term!”?

Or another: it seems quite obvious that one thing any individual has a right to is his own life. Certainly, if he thinks it is expendable, or is tired of it, how does an institution appropriate the right to force him to continue living? Since it has become clear, finally, that no institution can punish him once he is dead, our state takes it upon itself to punish anyone who assists him.

Readers will remember our Declaration of Independence. In it are mentioned rights that “include life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” But it is clear that these are HUMAN RIGHTS, not rights of some abstract entity. States may well have RESPONSIBILITIES to its constituents, but not rights.

During World War II, many felt that Japan and Germany had no right to exist. Growing up in the Cold War era, it was commonplace to hear that the Soviet Union had no right to exists (and, from their block, that the U.S. and its allies had no right to exist), but a distinction has always been made between states and the individuals who happened to live in them.

Can we take this further? Does FEMA have the “right to exist”? The Decider apparently thought not since he made it subject to homeland security. Then Katrina hit. Does the Elks club have a right to exist? People such as its members have the right to construct, form, and join it, but does it have the right to the “pursuit of happiness” on its own? What about the stock exchange? People may decide that we need one, and hence it exists, but what if the Elks club contended that the stock exchange did not have a right to exist?

I would go so far as to say that no organization or institution has the right to exist, or at least that they should always justify their existence. Now this is not as strange as it may seem. Indeed, our Decider (aka, President) has put this test to all K-12 educational institutions, using multiple choice questions administered to students as a life or death measurement – although it is limited to schools, not the students. While there is no point to an extended discussion of the value of multiple choice questions, the real point is that the test of justification of the school’s existence is there.

All we need to do now is to extend that doctrine of justification to all institutions.

Democracy Now!

Chalmers Johnson: ?Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic"

Tuesday, February 27th, 2007

In his new book, CIA analyst, distinguished scholar, and best-selling

author Chalmers Johnson argues that US military and economic overreach

may actually lead to the nation's collapse as a constitutional republic.

It's the last volume in his Blowback trilogy, following the best-selling

"Blowback" and "The Sorrows of Empire." In those two, Johnson argued

American clandestine and military activity has led to un-intended, but

direct disaster here in the United States. [includes rush transcript]

Chalmers Johnson is a retired professor of international relations at

the University of California, San Diego. He is also President of the

Japan Policy Research Institute. Johnson has written for several

publications including Los Angeles Times, the London Review of Books,

Harper's Magazine, and The Nation. In 2005, he was featured prominently

in the award-winning documentary film, ?Why We Fight.?

Chalmers Johnson joined me yesterday from San Diego. I began by asking

him about the title of his book, ?Nemesis.?

* *Chalmers Johnson*, Author, scholar and leading critic of US

foreign policy. Retired professor of international relations at

the University of California, San Diego. He is also President of

the Japan Policy Research Institute. His new book is ?Nemesis: The

Last Days of the American Republic.?


*AMY GOODMAN: *Today, we spend the hour with the former CIA consultant,

distinguished scholar, best-selling author, Chalmers Johnson. He's just

published a new book. It's called /Nemesis: The Last Days of the

American Republic/. It's the last volume in his trilogy, which began

with /Blowback/, went onto /The Sorrows of Empire/. In those two,

Johnson argued American clandestine and military activity has led to

unintended but direct disaster here in the United States. In his new

book, Johnson argues that US military and economic overreach may

actually lead to the nation's collapse as a constitutional republic.

Chalmers Johnson is a retired professor of international relations at

the University of California, San Diego. He's also president of the

Japan Policy Research Institute. He's written for a number of

publications, including the /Los Angeles Times/, /The London Review of

Books/, /Harper’s/ magazine and /The Nation/. In 2005, he was featured

prominently in the award-winning documentary, /Why We Fight/. Chalmers

Johnson joined me yesterday from San Diego. I began by asking him about

the title of his book, /Nemesis/.

*CHALMERS JOHNSON: *Nemesis was the ancient Greek goddess of

revenge, the punisher of hubris and arrogance in human beings. You

may recall she is the one that led Narcissus to the pond and

showed him his reflection, and he dove in and drowned. I chose the

title, because it seems to me that she's present in our country

right now, just waiting to make her -- to carry out her divine


By the subtitle, I really do mean it. This is not just hype to

sell books -- ?The Last Days of the American Republic.? I’m here

concerned with a very real, concrete problem in political

analysis, namely that the political system of the United States

today, history tells us, is one of the most unstable combinations

there is -- that is, domestic democracy and foreign empire -- that

the choices are stark. A nation can be one or the other, a

democracy or an imperialist, but it can't be both. If it sticks to

imperialism, it will, like the old Roman Republic, on which so

much of our system was modeled, like the old Roman Republic, it

will lose its democracy to a domestic dictatorship.

I’ve spent some time in the book talking about an alternative,

namely that of the British Empire after World War II, in which it

made the decision, not perfectly executed by any manner of means,

but nonetheless made the decision to give up its empire in order

to keep its democracy. It became apparent to the British quite

late in the game that they could keep the jewel in their crown,

India, only at the expense of administrative massacres, of which

they had carried them out often in India. In the wake of the war

against Nazism, which had just ended, it became, I think, obvious

to the British that in order to retain their empire, they would

have to become a tyranny, and they, therefore, I believe, properly

chose, admirably chose to give up their empire.

As I say, they didn't do it perfectly. There were tremendous

atavistic fallbacks in the 1950s in the Anglo, French, Israeli

attack on Egypt; in the repression of the Kikuyu -- savage

repression, really -- in Kenya; and then, of course, the most

obvious and weird atavism of them all, Tony Blair and his

enthusiasm for renewed British imperialism in Iraq. But

nonetheless, it seems to me that the history of Britain is clear

that it gave up its empire in order to remain a democracy. I

believe this is something we should be discussing very hard in the

United States.

*AMY GOODMAN: *Chalmers Johnson, you connect the breakdown of

constitutional government with militarism.


*AMY GOODMAN: *Can you talk about the signs of the breakdown of

constitutional government and how it links?

*CHALMERS JOHNSON: *Well, yes. Militarism is the -- what the

social side has called the ?intervening variable,? the causative

connection. That is to say, to maintain an empire requires a very

large standing army, huge expenditures on arms that leads to a

military-industrial complex, and generally speaking, a vicious

cycle sets up of interests that lead to perpetual series of wars.

It goes back to probably the earliest warning ever delivered to us

by our first president, George Washington, in his famous farewell

address. It’s read at the opening of every new session of

Congress. Washington said that the great enemy of the republic is

standing armies; it is a particular enemy of republican liberty.

What he meant by it is that it breaks down the separation of

powers into an executive, legislative, and judicial branches that

are intended to check each other -- this is our most fundamental

bulwark against dictatorship and tyranny -- it causes it to break

down, because standing armies, militarism, military establishment,

military-industrial complex all draw power away from the rest of

the country to Washington, including taxes, that within Washington

they draw it to the presidency, and they begin to create an

imperial presidency, who then implements the military's desire for

secrecy, making oversight of the government almost impossible for

a member of Congress, even, much less for a citizen.

It seems to me that this is also the same warning that Dwight

Eisenhower gave in his famous farewell address of 1961, in which

he, in quite vituperative language, quite undiplomatic language --

one ought to go back and read Eisenhower. He was truly alarmed

when he spoke of the rise of a large arms industry that was beyond

supervision, that was not under effective control of the interests

of the military-industrial complex, a phrase that he coined. We

know from his writings that he intended to say a

military-industrial-congressional complex. He was warned off from

going that far. But it's in that sense that I believe the nexus --

or, that is, the incompatibility between domestic democracy and

foreign imperialism comes into being.

*AMY GOODMAN: *Who was he warned by?

*CHALMERS JOHNSON: *Members of Congress. Republican memb--

*AMY GOODMAN: *And why were they opposed?

*CHALMERS JOHNSON: *Well, they did not want to have their

oversight abilities impugned. They weren't carrying them out very

well. You must also say that Eisenhower was -- I think he's been

overly praised for this. It was a heroic statement, but at the

same time, he was the butcher of Guatemala, the person who

authorized our first clandestine operation and one of the most

tragic that we ever did: the overthrow of Mohammed Mossadegh in

Iran in 1953 for the sake of the British Petroleum Company. And he

also presided over the fantastic growth of the military-industrial

complex, of the lunatic oversupply of nuclear weapons, of the

empowering of the Air Force, and things of this sort. It seems to

be only at the end that he realized what a monster he had created.

*AMY GOODMAN: *Chalmers Johnson, author of /Nemesis: The Last Days of

the American Republic/. We'll come back to him in a minute.


*AMY GOODMAN: *As we return to my interview with Chalmers Johnson -- his

new book, /Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic/ -- I asked

him to talk about the expansion of US military bases around the globe.

*CHALMERS JOHNSON: *According to the official count right now --

it's something called the Base Structure Report, which is an

unclassified Pentagon inventory of real property owned around the

world and the cost it would take to replace it -- there are right

now 737 American military bases on every continent, in well over

130 countries. Some apologists from the Pentagon like to say,

well, this is false, that we're counting Marine guards at

embassies. I guarantee you that it's simply stupid. We don't have

anything like 737 American embassies abroad, and all of these are

genuine military bases with all of the problems that that involves.

In the southernmost prefecture of Japan, Okinawa, site of the

Battle of Okinawa in 1945, there’s a small island, smaller than

Hawaii in the Hawaiian islands, with 1,300,000 Okinawans. There's

thirty-seven American military bases there. The revolt against

them has been endemic for fifty years. The governor is always

saying to the local military commander, ?You're living on the side

of a volcano that could explode at any time.? It has exploded in

the past. What this means is just an endless, nonstop series of

sexually violent crimes, drunken brawls, hit-and-run accidents,

environmental pollution, noise pollution, helicopters falling out

of the air from Futenma Marine Corps Air Base and falling onto the

campus of Okinawa International University. One thing after

another. Back in 1995, we had one of the most serious incidents,

when two Marines and a sailor abducted, beat and raped a

twelve-year-old girl. This led to the largest demonstrations

against the United States since we signed the security treaty with

Japan decades ago. It's this kind of thing.

I first went to Okinawa in 1996. I was invited by then-Governor

Ota in the wake of the rape incident. I’ve devoted my life to the

study of Japan, but like many Japanese, many Japanese specialists,

I had never been in Okinawa. I was shocked by what I saw. It was

the British Raj. It was like Soviet troops living in East Germany,

more comfortable than they would be back at, say, Oceanside,

California, next door to Camp Pendleton. And it was a scandal in

every sense. My first reaction -- I’ve not made a secret of it --

that I was, before the collapse of the Soviet Union, certainly a

Cold Warrior. My first explanation was that this is simply off the

beaten track, that people don't come down here and report it. As I

began to study the network of bases around the world and the

incidents that have gone with them and the military coups that

have brought about regime change and governments that we approve

of, I began to realize that Okinawa was not unusual; it was,

unfortunately, typical.

These bases, as I say, are spread everywhere. The most recent

manifestation of the American military empire is the decision by

the Pentagon now, with presidential approval, of course, to create

another regional command in Africa. This may either be at the base

that we have in Djibouti at the Horn of Africa. It may well be in

the Gulf of Guinea, where we are prospecting for oil, and the Navy

would very much like to put ourselves there. It is not at all

clear that we should have any form of American military presence

in Africa, but we're going to have an enlarged one.

Invariably, remember what this means. Imperialism is a form of

tyranny. It never rules through consent of the governed. It

doesn't ask for the consent of the governed. We talk about the

spread of democracy, but we're talking about the spread of

democracy at the point of an assault rifle. That's a contradiction

in terms. It doesn't work. Any self-respecting person being

democratized in this manner starts thinking of retaliation.

Nemesis becomes appropriate.

*AMY GOODMAN: *Chalmers Johnson, there have been major protests

against US military bases. Recently in Vicenza in Italy, about

100,000 people protested. Ecuador announced that it would close

the Manta Air Base, the military base there. What about the

response, the resistance to this web of bases around the world?

*CHALMERS JOHNSON: *Well, there is a genuine resistance and has

been for a long time. As I say, in the case of Okinawa, there's

been at least three different historical revolts against the

American presence. There's collaboration between the Japanese

government and the Pentagon to use this island, which is a

Japanese version of Puerto Rico. It's a place that's always been

discriminated against. It's the Japanese way of having their cake

and eating it, too. They like the alliance with America, but they

do not want American soldiers based anywhere near the citizens of

mainland Japan. So they essentially dump them or quarantine them

off into this island, where the population pays the cost.

This is true, what's going on in Italy right now, where there is

tremendous resistance to the CIA rendition cases. That is,

kidnapping people that we've identified and flying them secretly

to countries where we know they will be tortured. There's right

now something like twenty-five CIA officers by name who are under

indictment by the Italian government for felonies committed by

agents of the United States in Italy. And, indeed, we just did

have these major demonstrations in Vicenza. The people there

believe that with the enlargement of the base that is already

there -- I mean, this is, after all, the old Palladian city, a

city of great and famous architecture, that they would become a

target of terrorism, of numerous other things.

We see the resistance in the form of Prime Minister Zapatero in

Spain, that he promised the people that after he came to power, he

would get out of Iraq, and he was one of the few who did deliver,

who does remember that if democracy means anything, it means that

public opinion matters, though in an awful lot of countries, it

doesn't actually seem to be the case. But he has reduced radically

the American military presence in Spain.

And it continues around the world. There is a growing irritation

at the American colossus athwart the world, using its military

muscle to do as it pleases. We see it right now, that people of

the Persian Gulf are not being asked whether or not they want

anywhere between two and four huge carrier task forces in the

fifth fleet in CENTCOM's navy in the Persian Gulf, and all of

which looks like preparation for an assault on Iran. We don't know

that for certain by any manner of means, but there's plenty enough

to make us suspicious.

Then you look back historically, probably there is no more

anti-American democracy on earth than Greece. They will never

forgive us for bringing to power the Greek colonels the in the

late ?60s and early ?70s, and, of course, also establishing then

numerous American military enclaves in Greece until the colonels

themselves finally self-destructed by simply going too far.

And the cases are ubiquitous in Latin America, in Africa today.

Probably still the most important area, of course, of military

imperialism is the opening up of southern Eurasia, after it became

available to foreign imperialistic pressure with the collapse of

the Soviet Union.

Many important observers who have resigned their commissions from

the Pentagon have made the case that the fundamental explanation

for the war in Iraq was precisely to make it the new -- to replace

the two old pillars of American foreign policy in the Middle East.

The first pillar, Iran, collapsed, of course, with the revolution

in 1979 against the Shah, who we had installed in power. The

second pillar, Saudi Arabia, had become less and less useful to

us, because of our own bungling. We put forces, military forces,

ground forces, an air force, in Saudi Arabia after the Gulf War in

1991. This was unnecessary, it was stupid, it was arrogant. It

caused antagonism among numerous patriotic Saudis, not least of

whom, one was our former asset and colleague, Osama bin Laden --

that Saudi Arabia is charged with the defense of the two most

sacred sites in Islam: Mecca and Medina. We ought to be able to do

this ourselves without using infidel troops that know absolutely

nothing about our religion, our country, our lifestyle, or

anything else. Over time, the Saudis began to restrict the use of

Prince Sultan Air Base outside Riyadh. We actually closed down our

major operations headquarters there just before the invasion of

Iraq and moved it to Qatar.

And then we chose Iraq as the second most oil-rich country on

earth, and as a place perfectly suited for our presence. I think

many people have commented on it, Seymour Hersh notably, but I

think, importantly, one of the reasons we had no exit plan from

Iraq is that we didn't intend to leave. And certainly the evidence

of it is the now series of at least five very, very large, heavily

reinforced, long double runways, five air bases in Iraq,

strategically located all over the country. You can never get our

ambassador, the Department of Defense, the President, or anybody

to say unequivocally we don't intend to have bases there. It's a

subject on which Congress never, ever opens its mouth.

Occasionally, military officers -- the commander of Air Force in

CENTCOM has repeatedly, in his sort of off-hand way, when asked,

‘How long do you think we'll be here’? and he usually says, ‘Oh,

at least a decade in these bases.’ And then, we continue to

reinforce them.

Now, then, we’ve tried to build bases in Central Asia in the

Caspian Basin oil-rich countries that were made independent -- not

in any sense democracies -- made independent by the collapse of

the Soviet Union in 1991. We have now been thrown out of one of

them for too much heavy-handed interference. And the price of our

stay in Kyrgyzstan has quadrupled, much more than that actually.

It’s gone from a few million dollars to well over $100 million.

But we continue to play these games, and they are games, and the

game is property called imperialism.

*AMY GOODMAN: *We're talking to Chalmers Johnson. Now, Chalmers

Johnson, you were a consultant for the CIA for a period through

Richard Nixon, starting with Johnson in 1967, right through 1973.

And I’m wondering how you see its use has changed. You talk about,

and you write in your book about the Central Intelligence Agency,

the president's private army.

*CHALMERS JOHNSON: *I say, at one point, we will never know peace

until we abolish it, or, at any rate, restrict what is the monster

that it's grown into. The National Security Act of 1947 lists five

functions. It creates the Central Intelligence Agency. It lists

five functions for it. The purpose, above all, was to prevent

surprise attack, to prevent a recurrence of the attack, such as

the one at Pearl Harbor. Of these five functions, four are various

forms of information-gathering through open sources, espionage,

signals intelligence, things of this sort. The fifth is simply a

catchall, that the CIA will do anything that the National Security

Council, namely the foreign affairs bureaucracy in the White House

attached directly to the president orders it to do.

That's turned out to be the tail that wags the dog. Intelligence

is not taken all that seriously. It's not that good. My function

inside the agency in the late ‘60s, early ‘70s was in the Office

of National Estimates. My wife used to ask me at times, ‘Why are

they so highly classified’? And I said, ‘Well, probably and

mostly, simply because they’re the very best we can do, and they

read like a sort of lowbrow foreign affairs article.’ They're not

full of great technical detail and certainty nothing on sources of


But as the agency developed over time, and as it was made clear to

the president, every president since Truman, made clear to them

shortly after they were inaugurated, you have at your disposal a

private army. It is totally secret. There is no form of oversight.

There was no form of congressional oversight until the late 1970s,

and it proved to be incompetent in the face of Iran-Contra and

things like that. He can do anything you want to with it. You

could order assassinations. You could order governments

overthrown. You could order economies subverted that seemed to get

in our way. You could instruct Latin American military officers in

state terrorism. You can carry out extraordinary renditions and

order the torture of people, despite the fact that it is a clear

violation of American law and carries the death penalty if the

torture victim should die, and they commonly do in the case of

renditions to places like Egypt.

No president since Truman, once told that he has this power, has

ever failed to use it. That became the route of rapid advancement

within the CIA, dirty tricks, clandestine activities, the carrying

out of the president's orders to overthrow somebody, starting --

the first one was the overthrow of Mohammed Mossadegh in Iran in

1953. It’s from that, the After Action Report, which has only

recently been declassified, that the word ‘blowback’ that I used

in the first of my three books on American foreign policy, that's

where the word ‘blowback’ comes from. It means retaliation for

clandestine activities carried out abroad.

But these clandestine activities also have one other caveat on

them: they are kept totally secret from the American public, so

that when the retaliation does come, they're unable ever to put it

in context, to see it in cause-and-effect terms. They usually lash

out against the alleged perpetrators, usually simply inaugurating

another cycle of blowback. The best example is easily 9/11 in

2001, which was clearly blowback for the largest clandestine

operation we ever carried out, namely the recruiting, arming and

sending into battle of the Mujahideen in Afghanistan against the

Soviet Union during the 1980s. But this is the way the CIA has


It's been responsible for the overthrow of Salvador Allende in

Chile and bringing to power probably the most odious dictator on

either side in the Cold War, namely General Augusto Pinochet; the

installation of the Greek colonels in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s

in Greece; the coups, one after another, in numerous Latin

American countries, all under the cover of avoiding Soviet

imperialism carried out by Fidel Castro, when the real purpose was

to protect the interests of the United Fruit Company, and

continued to exploit the extremely poor and essentially

defenseless people of Central America.

The list is endless. The overthrow of Sukarno in Indonesia, the

bringing to power of General Suharto, then the elimination of

General Suharto when he got on our nerves. It has a distinctly

Roman quality to it. And this is why I -- moreover, there is no

effective oversight. There are a few, often crooked congressmen,

like Randy "Duke" Cunningham, who are charged with oversight. When

Charlie Wilson, the congressman, long-sitting congressman from the

Second District of Texas, was named chairman of the House

Intelligence Oversight Committee during the Afghan period, he

wrote at once to his pals in the CIA, ‘The fox is in the henhouse.

Gentlemen, do anything you want to.’

*AMY GOODMAN: *Chalmers Johnson has just finished his trilogy. The first

was /Blowback/, then /Sorrows of Empire/, now /Nemesis: The Last Days of

the American Republic/. We'll be back with the conclusion of the

interview in a minute.


*AMY GOODMAN: *We return to the conclusion of my interview with Chalmers

Johnson. Professor Johnson is a noted expert on Asia politics. He has

authored a number of books on the Chinese revolution, on Japanese

economic development. In his thirty years in the University of

California system, Johnson served as chair of the Center for Chinese

Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. I asked him to talk

about China's role as a growing world power.

*CHALMERS JOHNSON: *I’m optimistic about China. I think that they

have shown a remarkable movement toward moderation. I believe that

the public supports them, because they've done something that the

public wanted done and was extremely fearful about, namely the

dismantling of a Leninist economy without reducing the conditions

that occurred in Yeltsin's Russia, that China has -- it’s

unleashed its fantastic growth potential and is moving ahead with

great power and insight.

There are many things that we do not like in the way this is

developing, particularly the fear of China by the American

neoconservatives. They have no alternative but to adjust to this.

It's the same kind of adjustment that should have been made in the

20th century to the rise of new sources of power in Germany, in

Russia, in Japan. The failure by the sated English-speaking powers

-- above all, England and the United States -- to adjust led to

savage and essentially worthless wars. But the Americans are again

continuing to harp on China's growth, where, in fact, I’ve been

impressed with the ease with which China has adjusted to the

interests of countries that do not necessarily like China at all

-- Indonesia, for example, Vietnam.

They are contiguously egging on the Japanese to be antagonistic

toward China, which was the scene of their greatest war crimes

during World War II, for which they have never adequately either

responded or paid compensation. I wonder what foolishness is this.

A war with China would have the same -- it would have the same

configuration as the Vietnam War. We would certainly lose it.

The glue, the political glue of China today, the source of its

legitimacy, is increasingly Chinese nationalism, which is

passionately held. As the Hong Kong joke has it, China just had a

couple of bad centuries, and it's back.

We have not been watching it with quite the hawk eyes we were

during the first months of the Bush administration, when, after a

spy incident in which the Chinese forced down one of our

reconnaissance planes that was penetrating their coastal areas in

an extremely aggressive manner -- if it had been a Chinese plane

off of our coast, we would have shot it down; they simply forced

it down, it was a loss of an airplane and one of their own pilots

-- that, you'll recall, George Bush said on television that he

would, if the Chinese ever menaced the island of Taiwan, he would

use the full weight and force of the American military against

China. This is insanity, genuine insanity. There's no way that --

I mean, if the Chinese defeated every single American, they'd

still have 800 million of them left, and you simply have to adjust

to that, not antagonize it, and I believe there's plenty of ample

evidence that you can adjust to the Chinese.

*AMY GOODMAN: *Chalmers Johnson, in January, the Chinese launched

their first anti-satellite test, and I wanted to segue into that

to the miniaturization of space.

*CHALMERS JOHNSON: *Well, precisely, I have a chapter in /Nemesis/

that I’m extremely proud of called ‘The Ultimate Imperialist

Project: Outer Space.’ It's about the congressional missile lobby,

the fantastic waste of funds on things that we know don't work.

But they're not intended to work. They're part of military

Keynesianism, of maintaining our economy through military

expenditures. They provide jobs in as many different

constituencies as the military-industrial complex can place them.

We have arrogantly talked about full-spectrum dominance of control

of the globe from outer space, the domination of the low and high

orbits that are so necessary. We've all become so dependent upon

them today for global positioning devices, telecommunications,

mapping, weather forecasting, one thing after another. In fact,

the Chinese, the Russians, the Europeans have been asking us

repeatedly for decent international measures, international

treaties, to prevent the weaponization of space, to prevent the

growing catastrophe of orbiting debris that are extremely lethal

to satellites, to -- as Sally Ride, one of the commanders of our

space shuttle, she was in an incident in which a piece of paint,

or in orbit -- that's at 17,000 miles an hour in low-earth orbit

-- hit the windshield of the challenger and put a bad dent in it.

Now, if a piece of paint can do that, I hate to tell you what a

lens cap or an old wrench or something like that -- so there's a

whole bunch of them out there. At the Johnson Space Center, they

keep a regular growing inventory of these old pieces of, some

case, weaponry, some case, launch vehicles for satellites, things

of this sort. They publish a very lovely little newsletter that

talks about how a piece of an American space capsule from twenty

years ago rear-ended a shot Chinese-launched vehicle and produced

a few more debris. It's a catastrophe.

But instead, we've got -- there's no other word for it -- an

arrogant, almost Roman, out-of-control Air Force that continues to

serve the interests of the military-industrial complex, the space

lobby, to build things that they know won't work.

*AMY GOODMAN: *What is a space Pearl Harbor?

*CHALMERS JOHNSON: *A space Pearl Harbor would mean, they believe,

what the Chinese did in January, when they tested an

anti-satellite weapon against one of their old and redundant

satellites. Satellites do burn out. There's no way to repair them,

so they simply shot it down with a rocket. This explosion produces

massive amounts of debris, whizzing around the earth in low-earth

orbit. If you put it higher into orbit, you would start killing

off the main satellites on which, well, probably this television

broadcast is going to depend on, too. And there's no way to ever

get rid of things that are orbiting in high-earth orbit. Low-earth

orbit, some of them will descend into the atmosphere and burn up.

But the Air Force has continuously used this so-called threat of

our being blinded by -- because we have become so reliant on

global positioning systems. Our so-called ‘smart bombs’ depend on

them, that we’ve -- they're not very smart, and it's not as good a

global positioning system as the peaceful one the Europeans are

building called Galileo. They use it to say we must arm space, we

must have anti-satellite weapons in space, we have rebuffed every

effort to control this, and finding out the Chinese have called

our bluff.

*AMY GOODMAN: *Where does Fort Greely, Alaska, fit into this, the


*CHALMERS JOHNSON: *Well, that is, there's three ways to shoot

down an alleged incoming missile. This is the whole farce of

whether there is a defense against a missile. I guarantee you

there is no defense at all against the Topol-M, the Russian

missile that goes into orbit extremely rapidly -- it goes into its

arch extremely rapidly. It has a maneuvering ability that means

that it's undetectable.

We're basically looking at very low-brow weapons that would be

coming from a country like North Korea, in which we have three

different ways of trying to intercept them. We used to only try to

do with one under the Clinton administration. Under the enthusiasm

of the current neoconservatives, we have three ways. One, on

blastoff, this is extremely difficult to do, but we're trying to

create a laser, carried in a Boeing 747, that would hit one.

You've got to be virtually on top of the launch site in order to

do so. It’s never worked. It probably doesn't work, and it's just


The much more common one would be to down the hostile missile,

while it is in outer space, from having given up its launch

vehicle and is now heading at very high speed toward the United

States. This is what the interceptors that have been put in the

ground at Fort Greely, Alaska, and a couple of them at Vandenberg

Air Force Base in California, are supposed to do. They have never

once yet had a successful intercept. The radar is not there to

actually track the allegedly hostile vehicle. As one senior

Pentagon scientist said the other day, these are really

essentially scarecrows, hoping that they would scare off the North


This is a catastrophic misuse of resources against a small and

failed communist state, North Korea. There is no easier thing on

earth to detect than a hostile missile launch, and the proper

approach to preventing that is deterrence. We have thought about

it, worked on it, practiced it, studied it now for decades. The

North Koreans have an excellent reputation for rationality. They

know if they did launch such a vehicle at Japan or at the United

States, they would disappear the next day in a retaliatory strike,

and they don't do it.

It's why, in the case of Iran, the only logical thing to do is to

learn to live with a nuclear-armed Iran. It's inevitable for a

country now surrounded by nuclear powers -- the United States in

the Persian Gulf, the Soviet Union, Israel, Pakistan and India.

The Iranians are rationalists and recognize the only way you're

ever going to dissuade people from using their nuclear power to

intimidate us is a threat of retaliation. So we are developing our

minimal deterrent, and we should learn to live with it.

*AMY GOODMAN: *Finally, Chalmers Johnson, you have just completed

your trilogy. Your first book, /Blowback/, then /Sorrows of

Empire/, and now finally /Nemesis: The Last Days of the American

Republic/. What is your prediction?

*CHALMERS JOHNSON: *Well, I don't see any way out of it. I think

it's gone too far. I think we are domestically too dependent on

the military-industrial complex, that every time -- I mean, it's

perfectly logical for any Secretary of Defense to try and close

military bases that are redundant, that are useless, that are worn

out, that go back to the Civil War. Any time he tries to do it,

you produce an uproar in the surrounding community from

newspapers, television, priests, local politicians: save our base.

The two mother hens of the Defense Facilities Subcommittee of the

Senate Armed Services Committee, the people committed to taking

care of our bases are easily Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas and

Dianne Feinstein of California, the two states with the largest

number of military bases, and those two senators would do anything

in their power to keep them open. This is the insidious way in

which the military-industrial complex has penetrated into our

democracy and gravely weakened it, produced vested interests in

what I call military Keynesianism, the use and manipulation of

what is now three-quarters of a trillion dollars of the Defense

budget, once you include all the other things that aren't included

in just the single appropriation for the Department of Defense.

This is a -- it's out of control. We depend upon it, we like it,

we live off of it. I cannot imagine any President of any party

putting together the coalition of forces that could begin to break

into these vested interests, any more than a Gorbachev was able to

do it in his attempted reforms of the Soviet Union in the late 1980s.

*AMY GOODMAN: *Is there anything, Chalmers, that gives you hope?

*CHALMERS JOHNSON: *Well, that's exactly what we're doing this

morning. That is, the only way -- you've got to reconstitute the

constitutional system in America, or it is over. That is that

empires -- once you go in the direction of empire, you ultimately

lead to overstretch, bankruptcy, coalitions of nations hostile to

your imperialism. We're well on that route.

The way that it might be stopped is by a mobilization of

inattentive citizens. I don't know that that's going to happen.

I’m extremely dubious, given the nature of conglomerate control

of, say, the television networks in America for the sake of

advertising revenue. We see Rupert Murdoch talking about buying a

third of the /Los Angeles Times/. But, nonetheless, there is the

internet, there is Amy Goodman, there are -- there's a lot more

information than there was.

One of the things I have experienced in these three books is a

much more receptive audience of alarmed Americans to /Nemesis/

than to the previous two books, where there was considerable

skepticism, so that one -- if we do see a renaissance of

citizenship in America, then I believe we could recapture our

government. If we continue politics as in the past, then I think

there is no alternative but to say Nemesis is in the country,

she's on the premises, and she is waiting to carry out her divine


*AMY GOODMAN: *Chalmers Johnson, his new book is /Nemesis: The Last Days

of the American Republic/. It's the last volume in his /Blowback/

trilogy, following the best-selling /Blowback/ and /The Sorrows of Empire/.