Aug

21

Chalmers JohnsonI was speaking a few months ago with a financial strategist/blogger about the US repeating decline of Roman Empire. Noticed this week UC-Berkeley Professor Chalmers Johnson releasing a new book on the same. His argument is we need to cease military operations, stop being the world's policemen and re-route all efforts to better infrastructure, energy, education, etc. Whether you agree with him or not, he's a great researcher/writer and his work on Japan was the basis for my undergraduate honors thesis. Always something to learn from him.

Stefan Jovanovich opines: 

Vince, I think your characterization of Chalmers Johnson is off base. He is anything but "a great researcher/writer". He does the kind of scholarly study that is best described as "Jane Fonda homework"– a quick visit to the point of controversy, interview the local celebrity dissidents and back on the plane. In the "Sorrows of Empire" he recounts his inspection of Camp Hansen, the Marine base on Okinawa, and concludes by saying that it is "lush". Camp Hansen*&*%*^!!! There is no way to take the words of such a man seriously. Johnson's use the Roman Empire metaphor should be a pure tell. Which decline and military defeat is he talking about? Cannae? Arausio? Carrhae? Teutoburg Forest? Johnson never does specify.

Edward Gibbon thought the Roman Empire declined because our own Gibbons' Christians took over, not because the military collapsed. Even so, "The Fall" took another 1000 years. If money is an appropriate measure, the United States has long since stopped being the world's policeman. In 1968, during our last major police action before the present one, the budget of the Department of Defense budget was 46% of total Federal expenditures. Forty years later it was 21%. During that same period those dread entitlements - Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security - went from 17% to 41%. It is part of Professor Johnson's wilful blindness that he refuses to see how many swords have already been beaten into plowshares. What he should be examining instead is how many of the "investments" (sic) already made in education and infrastructure (aka more school buildings) have produced the same kind of literate but completely unskilled mob of patronage seekers that the author of the Decline and Fall saw as the greatest threat to his own country and its future empire. All the best. Stefan

P.S. Not everyone on the Berkeley campus these days is a faux scholar and historian. The trouble is that for every 10 Chalmers Johnsons, there is only one Andy Stewart.
 


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  1. Gary Rogan on August 21, 2010 5:23 pm

    “stop being the world’s policemen” is too broad of a proscription: it implies some sort of a half-altruistic/half-bullying, but certainly illogical, stance. I would settle for some good cost/benefit analysis plus the desire and self-assuredness to win the conflicts that are started quickly and decisively with all the means at our disposal. “better infrastructure, energy, education” sounds just plain scary to me because I heard this word combination before, and not from the people who have later shown themselves to act in America’s interest. How about property rights, equal treatment under the law, and accuracy in media?

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