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Chalmers Johnson

November 22, 2010 8 comments

Chalmers Johnson has died. I read Sorrows of Empire in college, but that’s about the extent of my knowledge of him. This is a pretty good overview of his work.

I remember not being impressed with Sorrows. That’s probably a function of what I wanted out of it: a good argument that there was such a thing as an American empire. His definition was looser than mine was, so I wasn’t happy. Plus, he ventured awfully close to 9/11 conspiracy theory. Thinking back, though, it was a better book than I gave it credit for. The extent to which we have military bases around the world is really astonishing and it does us little good. His warnings about what our foreign policy will lead us to resonate with me more now, as I’m less focused on intentionality and more on consequences. I also didn’t realize that Johnson was Right wing, which is a nice commentary on how Left and Right foreign policy critiques can sound pretty similar.

At this point, I think of him more like Andrew Bacevich: probably correct, but I wish he wasn’t.

Categories: Foreign Policy, The Right
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