An explosive account of the resentments American policies are sowing around the world and of the payback that will be our harvest in the twenty-first century.
Blowback, a term invented by the CIA, refers to the uninted consequences of American policies. In this sure-to-be-controversial book, Chalmers Johnson lays out in vivid detail the dangers faced by our overextended empire, which insists on projecting its military power to every corner of the earth and using American capital and markets to force global economic integration on its own terms. From a case of rape by U.S. servicemen in Okinawa to our role in Asia's financial crisis, from our early support for Saddam Hussein to our actions in the Balkans, Johnson reveals the ways in which our misguided policies are planting the seeds of future disaster.
In the wake of the Cold War, the United States has imprudently expanded the commitments it made over the previous forty years, argues Johnson. In Blowback, he issues a warning we would do well to consider: it is time for our empire to demobilize before our bills come due.
This no-holds-barred indictment of what Johnson calls the post-Cold War American "global empire" is not for the faint of heart. Among the opening images is a plastic bag containing three pairs of bloodied men's underwear gathered as evidence from the brutal 1995 gang rape of a 12-year-old Okinawan girl by two American marines and an American sailor, a crime that was officially passed off as an aberration but may qualify more accurately as another move in the endgame of, in Johnson's astringent phrase, "stealth imperialism." In his highly critical appraisal of the global U.S. military presence, Johnson, president of the Japan Policy Research Institute and prolific commentator on Japan and Asia, focuses on the effects of "blowback," a term coined by the CIA to denote the unintended consequences of policies that were in many cases kept secret from the American public. From anti-Chinese pogroms carried out by U.S.-trained soldiers in Indonesia to the viciously suppressed 1980 pro-democracy demonstration in Kwangju, South Korea, Johnson examines the fallout from what he sees as American "economic colonialism." Detailed assessments of American engagement in Japan, Korea and China are coupled with closer-to-home observations on the liquidation of American jobs in places such as Birmingham, Ala., and Pittsburgh, the latter yet another consequence of the massive U.S. trade deficit with the countries of East Asia. Brazenly spending ever-swollen defense budgets, Johnson argues, the Pentagon is fueling an "antiglobalization time bomb" that could blow up at any moment. His chilling conclusion--backed by copious and livid detail--is that a nation reaps precisely what it sows.