Field of nightmares

Chalmers Johnson’s book Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire was published in March 2000 – and just about no one noticed. Until then, blowback had been an obscure term of CIA tradecraft, which Johnson defined as ”the unintended consequences of policies that were kept secret from the American people”. In his prologue, the former consultant to the CIA and eminent scholar of both Mao Zedong’s peasant revolution and modern Japan labeled his Cold War self a ”spear-carrier for empire”.

After the Soviet Union disappeared in 1991, he was surprised to discover that the essential global structure of that other Cold War colossus, the American superpower, with its vast panoply of military bases, remained obdurately in place as if nothing whatsoever had happened. Almost a decade later, when the Evil Empire was barely a memory, Johnson surveyed the planet and found ”an informal American empire” of immense reach and power. He also became convinced that, in its global operations, Washington was laying the groundwork ”all around the world… for future forms of blowback.”

Tom Engelhardt

Asia Times Online, Hong Kong

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