Both of his advanced degrees were from the University of California, Berkeley. Johnson met his wife Sheila, a junior at Berkeley, in , and they married in Reno, Nevada in May He was best known early in his career for his scholarship on the subjects of China and Japan. He coined the term " developmental state ". As a public intellectual, he first led the "Japan revisionists" who critiqued American neoliberal economics with Japan as a model; their arguments faded from view as the Japanese economy stagnated in the mids and later. He served as Director of the Center for Chinese Studies —  and Chair of the Political Science Department at Berkeley, and held a number of important academic posts in area studies.
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Both of his advanced degrees were from the University of California, Berkeley. Johnson met his wife Sheila, a junior at Berkeley, in , and they married in Reno, Nevada in May He was best known early in his career for his scholarship on the subjects of China and Japan.
He coined the term " developmental state ". As a public intellectual, he first led the "Japan revisionists" who critiqued American neoliberal economics with Japan as a model; their arguments faded from view as the Japanese economy stagnated in the mids and later. He served as Director of the Center for Chinese Studies —  and Chair of the Political Science Department at Berkeley, and held a number of important academic posts in area studies. He was a strong believer in the importance of language and historical training for conducting serious research.
Late in his career he became well known as a critic of " rational choice " approaches, particularly in the study of Japanese politics and political economy. Johnson is probably best known as a sharp critic of American imperialism. His book Blowback won a prize in from the Before Columbus Foundation , and was re-issued in an updated version in The Blowback series[ edit ] Johnson believed that the enforcement of American hegemony over the world constitutes a new form of global empire.
Whereas traditional empires maintained control over subject peoples via colonies, since World War II the US has developed a vast system of hundreds of military bases around the world. I believed the Soviet Union was a genuine menace. I still think so. The result of this militarism as distinct from domestic defense is more terrorism against the US and its allies, the loss of core democratic values at home, and the eventual crumbling of the American economy.
Of four books he wrote on this topic, the first three are referred to as The Blowback Trilogy. Johnson summarized the intent of the Blowback series in the final chapter of Nemesis. The concept " blowback " does not just mean retaliation for things our government has done to and in foreign countries. It refers to retaliation for the numerous illegal operations we have carried out abroad that were kept totally secret from the American public.
This means that when the retaliation comes — as it did so spectacularly on September 11, — the American public is unable to put the events in context. So they tend to support acts intended to lash out against the perpetrators, thereby most commonly preparing the ground for yet another cycle of blowback. In the first book in this trilogy, I tried to provide some of the historical background for understanding the dilemmas we as a nation confront today, although I focused more on Asia — the area of my academic training — than on the Middle East.
This empire of bases is the concrete manifestation of our global hegemony , and many of the blowback-inducing wars we have conducted had as their true purpose the sustaining and expanding of this network.
We do not think of these overseas deployments as a form of empire; in fact, most Americans do not give them any thought at all until something truly shocking, such as the treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay , brings them to our attention. But the people living next door to these bases and dealing with the swaggering soldiers who brawl and sometimes rape their women certainly think of them as imperial enclaves, just as the people of ancient Iberia or nineteenth-century India knew that they were victims of foreign colonization.
Specifically, I believe that to maintain our empire abroad requires resources and commitments that will inevitably undercut our domestic democracy and in the end produce a military dictatorship or its civilian equivalent.
The founders of our nation understood this well and tried to create a form of government — a republic — that would prevent this from occurring. But the combination of huge standing armies, almost continuous wars, military Keynesianism , and ruinous military expenses have destroyed our republican structure in favor of an imperial presidency. We are on the cusp of losing our democracy for the sake of keeping our empire.
Once a nation is started down that path, the dynamics that apply to all empires come into play — isolation, overstretch, the uniting of forces opposed to imperialism, and bankruptcy. Nemesis stalks our life as a free nation. Dismantling the Empire is suggested reading for CIA personnel.
Empire and Blowback: Remembering Chalmers Johnson’s Critique of American Imperialism
Such viewpoints more characteristically come from the left than the right. After serving as a naval officer during the Korean War, he earned graduate degrees in political science at Berkeley and became a leading expert on China and Japan at his alma mater. Only after the end of the Cold War did Johnson begin to question the assumptions of the American foreign policy he had served in and out of uniform. He had understood the need for a far-flung American military presence to oppose the murderous tyranny of the Soviet Union. Why even after the Soviet Union had disappeared, however, did the United States continue to maintain an ever-increasing network of military bases? Johnson began with a confession. Although abysmally ignorant about the dysfunction and oppression in communist societies, the Berkeley radicals had understood the nature of American capitalism better than he had.
‘Blowback’ by Chalmers Johnson
Because of this I had known about this book for some time before I was able to track it down and dig my paws into its pages. The book was published before that date and the terrible terror attacks which seemed to change much of the World. Because of this many felt that Johnson had a degree of clairvoyance in his anticipation of such consequence to US foreign policy. The book does discuss the damage that the United States has inflicted on many parts of the World, its focus however is spent in East Asia. It is here that Johnson gives the reader an excellent insertion into much of the recent history that has harmed the region and its people. Because of the focus on East Asia many other parts of the World are all but ignored as far as US imperialism goes.
Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire