Chalmers Johnson, R.I.P.


Chalmers Johnson, prominent in this past decade mostly as a critic of expansionist American foriegn policy, has died at age 79.

For more details on his past career as an East Asian expert (and critic of the current global neoliberal market consensus), see this lengthy obituary at Common Dreams. While the book Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire in which he popularized the phrase "blowback" was written before 9/11 and concentrated almost entirely on the East Asian nations in which he specialized (and in many cases on the global economic, rather than military, issues on which he also specialized), it did contain some interestingly presceient statements such as "to guess exactly how blowback may play itself out in the twenty-first century is, at best, a perilous undertaking…present American policy is seeding resentments that are bound to breed attempts at revenge."

In a new post-9/11 introduction to a later edition of Blowback, he wrote: "I foresee that we are embarked on a path not so dissimilar from that of the former Soviet Union…It collapsed for three reasons–internal economic contradictions, imperial overreach, and an inability to reform….It is nowhere written that the United States, in its guise as an empire dominating the world, must go on forever. The blowback from the second half of the twentieth century has only just begun."

Prominent voices against U.S. foreign policy madness are too few, and Chalmers will be missed by those who also hope to see America make a needed retreat to constitutional and affordable relations with the rest of the world.