Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Chalmers Johnson: 10 Steps Toward Liquidating the Empire

Chalmers Johnson: 10 Steps Toward Liquidating the Empire


Huffington Post

April 30, 2002


Dismantling the American empire would, of course,

involve many steps. Here are ten key places to begin:


1. We need to put a halt to the serious environmental

damage done by our bases planet-wide. We also need to

stop writing SOFAs that exempt us from any

responsibility for cleaning up after ourselves.


2. Liquidating the empire will end the burden of

carrying our empire of bases and so of the "opportunity

costs" that go with them -- the things we might

otherwise do with our talents and resources but can't

or won't.


3. As we already know (but often forget), imperialism

breeds the use of torture. In the 1960s and 1970s we

helped overthrow the elected governments in Brazil and

Chile and underwrote regimes of torture that prefigured

our own treatment of prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan.

(See, for instance, A.J. Langguth, Hidden Terrors

[Pantheon, 1979], on how the U.S. spread torture

methods to Brazil and Uruguay.) Dismantling the empire

would potentially mean a real end to the modern

American record of using torture abroad.


4. We need to cut the ever-lengthening train of camp

followers, dependents, civilian employees of the

Department of Defense, and hucksters -- along with

their expensive medical facilities, housing

requirements, swimming pools, clubs, golf courses, and

so forth -- that follow our military enclaves around

the world.


5. We need to discredit the myth promoted by the

military-industrial complex that our military

establishment is valuable to us in terms of jobs,

scientific research, and defense. These alleged

advantages have long been discredited by serious

economic research. Ending empire would make this



6. As a self-respecting democratic nation, we need to

stop being the world's largest exporter of arms and

munitions and quit educating Third World militaries in

the techniques of torture, military coups, and service

as proxies for our imperialism. A prime candidate for

immediate closure is the so-called School of the

Americas, the U.S. Army's infamous military academy at

Fort Benning, Georgia, for Latin American military

officers. (See Chalmers Johnson, The Sorrows of Empire

[Metropolitan Books, 2004], pp. 136-40.)


7. Given the growing constraints on the federal budget,

we should abolish the Reserve Officers' Training Corps

and other long-standing programs that promote

militarism in our schools.


8. We need to restore discipline and accountability in

our armed forces by radically scaling back our reliance

on civilian contractors, private military companies,

and agents working for the military outside the chain

of command and the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

(See Jeremy Scahill, Blackwater:The Rise of the World's

Most Powerful Mercenary Army [Nation Books, 2007]).

Ending empire would make this possible.


9. We need to reduce, not increase, the size of our

standing army and deal much more effectively with the

wounds our soldiers receive and combat stress they



10. To repeat the main message of this essay, we must

give up our inappropriate reliance on military force as

the chief means of attempting to achieve foreign policy



Unfortunately, few empires of the past voluntarily gave

up their dominions in order to remain independent,

self-governing polities. The two most important recent

examples are the British and Soviet empires. If we do

not learn from their examples, our decline and fall is



Chalmers Johnson is the author of Blowback (2000), The

Sorrows of Empire (2004), and Nemesis: The Last Days of

the American Republic (2006), and editor of Okinawa:

Cold War Island (1999).




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