A former UCSD professor and bestselling author will appear in La Jolla to argue that the United States is headed fast for a collapse reminiscent of the Soviet Union.
“Nowhere is it written that it can’t happen to us,” Chalmers Johnson said. “It’s time to sound the alarm.”
Johnson, a former professor of international relations and East Asian politics at UCSD, will appear at Warwick’s bookstore on Thursday, Feb. 22, to discuss his new book, “Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic.” The book is the final installment in Johnson’s “Blowback” trilogy, which confronts what he calls an overreaching American empire that is flirting with financial bankruptcy and a breakdown of our constitutional government.
The title of Johnson’s book refers to the Greek goddess Nemesis, who represented retribution for hubris and arrogance.
“It is my assertion that Nemesis is already present in the United States and is simply biding her time,” Johnson said.
The United States is currently operating under a political model that history has taught us is the most unstable possible configuration, operating a domestic republic and a foreign empire simultaneously, Johnson said.
“The two are incompatible,” Johnson said. “The Roman Republic is a classic case because so much of the American Constitution is modeled on Roman ideas about checks on power and preventing tyranny.”
The United States’ ever-expanding militarism around the globe is the key indicator that the current foreign policy of the United States is more typical of an empire than of a republic, Johnson said.
“If you aqcuire an empire abroad, it requires a large standing army to protect and police it,” Johnson said. “Our present defense budget is larger than all other military budgets on the Earth, combined. We have 737 military bases in 130 countries.”
Financially, the United States is relying on what Johnson calls a permanent war economy and is headed for bankruptcy, he said, noting that our current trade deficit with China is the largest in recorded history.
“We’re using our defense budget to prop up the economy,” Johnson said. “We’re investing in things like missle defense systems buried in the soil in Alaska and outer space warfare - things we know are worthless but are, at least, expensive.”
The economic crisis is exacerbated by the political climate in which our Constitutional system of checks and balances has been thrown hopelessly out of kilter, Johnson said.
“Congress has abdicated the role of oversight of the presidency,” he said. “The judiciary has become timid and more or less ineffectual.”
In Johnson’s opinion, the only way to save the United States would be dismantling the military-industrial complex the United States has built around the globe and mobilizing American citizens to demand that our democracy function the way it was designed. He is extremely pessimistic about the chances of those things happening, but says there is still time.
“It’s not over yet,” Johnson said. “This is an attempt to mobilize inattentive citizens and alert them to the danger that they face, and what they’re about to lose.”
Johnson said he has seen signs of that mobilization in recent months. He said his ideas have been more well received with the release of “Nemesis” than with any of his previous books. The sweeping rebuke of the incumbent party in the last Congressional elections was also a good sign, but not enough, Johnson said.
“I don’t see Miss Pelosi or the Democrats doing anything substantive to check the drift,” he said. “Lying to the public about the reasons for war, the mistreatment of prisoners of war at Guantanamo - these are all impeachable offenses. But we elected the Democratic party and the first thing they say is that impeachment is off the table. Well, if impeachment is off the table, maybe the republic is off the table, too.”
The threat to our democracy could be seen in recent events in San Diego, Johnson said. United States Attorney Carol Lam was recently asked to resign from her post in San Diego by the attorney general because her performance in prosecuting immigration and smuggling cases at the United States-Mexico border was insufficient. Lam’s defenders, including Johnson, say her focus on white-collar crime and government corruption, such as the Duke Cunningham bribery case, was more important.
“Ms. Lam is a hero and she was defending the country against a truly corrupt figure,” he said. “She should have received a medal. Instead we have an attorney general who is an imported flunky of the president’s from Texas trying to divert attention with issues like immigration. The amazing thing is how passive the public has been in the face of this betrayal of our system.”
Chalmers Johnson will appear at Warwick’s Bookstore on Thursday, Feb. 22 at 7:30 p.m. Warwick’s is at 7812 Girard Ave. Call (858) 454-0347 for more information.