Chalmers Johnson – USA

Linked with our presentation of some of his texts, with his presentation of July 12, 2007, and with America’s Empire of Bases.

Chalmers Johnson – USA

CHALMERS JOHNSON was born in 1931 in Phoenix and raised in Buckeye, Arizona. After World War II, in which his father served in the Navy in the Pacific, his family moved to Alameda, California, where he finished high school and earned a B.A. in economics at the University of California, Berkeley. He first saw Japan and Korea in 1953, when he served in the Navy during the Korean War.

Returning to Berkeley, he switched fields and earned both his M.A. and Ph.D. in political science. In 1962, he began teaching political science at Berkeley, and did so until 1988, when he moved to the San Diego campus of the University of California. He retired in 1992. At Berkeley he served as chairman of the Center for Chinese Studies from 1967 until 1972. He was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1976.

Johnson has written numerous articles and reviews and some twelve books on Asian subjects, including Peasant Nationalism and Communist Power on the Chinese revolution, An Instance of Treason on Japan’s most famous spy, Revolutionary Change on the theory of violent protest movements, and MITI and the Japanese Miracle on Japanese economic development. This last-named book laid the foundation for the “revisionist” school of writers on Japan, and because of it the Japanese press dubbed him the “Godfather of revisionism.”

He was chairman of the academic advisory committee for the PBS television series “The Pacific Century,” and he played a prominent role in the PBS “Frontline” documentary “Losing the War with Japan.” Both won Emmy awards. His latest books are Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire (New York: Holt Metropolitan Books, 2000) and, as editor and contributor, Okinawa: Cold War Island (Cardiff, Calif.: Japan Policy Research Institute, 1999) and “Dysfunctional Japan: At Home and In the World,” special issue of ASIAN PERSPECTIVE, vol. 24, no. 4 (2000), 334 pp. (Read on Cyber One).

Chalmers Johnson is president of the Japan Policy Research Institute, a non-profit research and public affairs organization devoted to public education concerning Japan and international relations in the Pacific. He taught for thirty years, 1962-1992, at the Berkeley and San Diego campuses of the University of California and held endowed chairs in Asian politics at both of them. At Berkeley he served as chairman of the Center for Chinese Studies and as chairman of the Department of Political Science. His B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. degrees in economics and political science are all from the University of California, Berkeley.

He first visited Japan in 1953 as a U.S. Navy officer and has lived and worked there with his wife, the anthropologist Sheila K. Johnson, virtually every year since 1961. Chalmers Johnson has been honored with fellowships from the Ford Foundation, the Social Science Research Council, and the Guggenheim Foundation; and in 1976 he was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He has written numerous articles and reviews and some fifteen books, including Peasant Nationalism and Communist Power on the Chinese revolution, An Instance of Treason on Japan’s most famous spy, Revolutionary Change on the theory of violent protest movements, and MITI and the Japanese Miracle on Japanese economic development. This last-named book laid the foundation for the “revisionist” school of writers on Japan, and because of it the Japanese press dubbed him the “Godfather of revisionism.” (Read more on The American Empire Project).

To put it mildly, Chalmers Johnson has changed his mind. During his long Berkeley career (nearly four decades as student and East Asia scholar), Johnson was a strong proponent of American foreign policy. He was a consultant to the CIA from 1967 to 1973, and in those days was a fierce opponent of campus anti-war demonstrators, whom he considered naïve and unruly. He was, he says, “a spear-carrier for the empire.”

No longer. Johnson’s changed tune comes out full blast in his new book, Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire (Henry Holt Metropolitan Books). The book has been called “stunning,” “brilliant,” and “very important” by its admirers; critics have charged that Johnson’s once “respected voice” has descended into “strident and unbalanced vitriol,” full of “cranky one-sidedness.” (Read more on California Alumni).

In the hours immediately following the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld asked for plans to be drawn up for an American assault on Iraq. The following day, in a cabinet meeting at the White House, Rumsfeld again insisted that Iraq should be “a principal target of the first round in the war against terrorism.”(1) The president allegedly replied that “public opinion has to be prepared before a move against Iraq is possible,” and instead chose Afghanistan as a much softer target. (Read more on Iraqi Wars).

links:

wikipedia;

two interviews: first one with multinational monitor;

second one with radio ABC, (end of Peter Myer’s presentation);

Randomhouse in german;

Berkeley interview;

Costs and Consequences of the American Empire;

Der Selbstmord der Amerikanischen Demokratie;


Democracy now
;

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