2022 Book 1: Blowback

The Costs and Consequences of American Empire, by Chalmers Johnson

The last couple years, I’ve been keeping a book log on Twitter, but 280 characters isn’t that many, and hey, I need blog content, so here we go.I read 12 books last year, not a great showing. My to-be-read pile is longer than my arm.

This was published in 2000, just before the 9-11 terrorist attacks, and Johnson accurately, if not specifically, predicts that in the first part of the book, where he lays out the underhanded dealings of the CIA, the coups, the propping up of puppet dictators, the training of foreign “elite” forces who then turned on their own populations… charges against America that politically astute people have understood for a while, though he puts some specifics to the problem and seeing them enumerated – Iran, Chile, El Salvador, is crazy-making. The American military & covert causes of blowback really stack up quick.

Interestingly though, the second half of the book pivots to Americas de-facto economic imperialism, specifically in the Pacific rim countries, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore and others. The blowback he talks about here is the hollowing out of American industry by offshoring jobs first to Japan then the chase of chap labor and capital around East Asia, and a financial collapse the region suffered in 1997 I knew nothing about. It was a weird pivot for the book, but the larger point was well presented. This section is a warning, a harbinger of the trade war we now seem to be entrenched in with China. I doubt I’m going to go off on an economics tangent, as a lot of this stuff was thick enough that I could only manage 8 or 10 pages a day, but I am now aware of how much I don’t know about east Asia in general. Despite the breadth of knowledge dumped here, my streak as a functional dilettante continues unabated. NEXT!

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ I give it 4 stars because despite being dated, it utterly prescient.