Chalmers Johnson concluded in Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic (the final book in his trilogy that began with ) that the die had been cast and he had nothing further to add. Three years later, in a much shorter work, The Guns of August: Lowering the Flag on the American Century, he comes once again to the same conclusion:
My own role these past 20 years has been that of Cassandra, whom the gods gave the gift of foreseeing the future, but also cursed because no one believed her. I wish I could be more optimistic about what's in store for the U.S. Instead, there isn't a day that our own guns of August don't continue to haunt me.
"Cassandras," when not ignored, are maligned. Often charged with being desirous of bad things befalling their community, etc. If that were true, why speak and risk being heard soon enough to alter the course of human events and be proven wrong? Chalmers Johnson will be dead before, perhaps long before, citizens of the US suffer the consequences of US hegemony. Same is true for the US scientists warning of global climate change. Deep down they are optimistic that if others could "see," they would change course.
Alas, they are no match for those with a vested interest in the status quo. Those rich enough to buy the biggest megaphones to preach faux optimism. The false prophets that ordinary people believe care about them.
What's exceedingly difficult for those like Johnson is watching the progress of the very slow-motion train wreck. Scanning the landscape in hopes of finding evidence of something that tells him that he was wrong. Doesn't matter if the evidence was there all along and its importance initially overlooked or a subsequent and unexpected course deviation improves the outcome. It's an exhausting and mind-numbing task, particularly for those like Johnson not enamored of the repetition of his own voice.
Just as I lost interest in China when that country's leadership headed so blindly down the wrong path during the Cultural Revolution, so I'm afraid I'm losing interest in continuing to analyze and dissect the prospects for the U.S. over the next few years. ...
He can see that moving some troops out of Iraq and more troops into Afghanistan is no more than opening and closing different window blinds on the train. However, he recognizes that some remarkable people have boarded his train-car.
...I applaud the efforts of young journalists to tell it like it is, and of scholars to assemble the data that will one day enable historians to describe where and when we went astray. I especially admire insights from the inside, such as those of ex-military men like Andrew Bacevich and Chuck Spinney. And I am filled with awe by men and women who are willing to risk their careers, incomes, freedom, and even lives to protest -- such as the priests and nuns of SOA Watch, who regularly picket the School of the Americas and call attention to the presence of American military bases and misbehavior in South America.
I'm impressed as well with Pfc. Bradley Manning, if he is indeed the person responsible for potentially making public 92,000 secret documents about the war in Afghanistan. Daniel Ellsberg has long been calling for someone to do what he himself did when he released the Pentagon Papers during the Vietnam War. He must be surprised that his call has now been answered -- and in such an unlikely way.
The "if this, then that" type of prognostication that Johnson does in this piece is interesting because it demonstrates the low cost and high reward potential of the "if this." But he knows those "ifs" aren't on the table.
Instead, I foresee the U.S. drifting along, much as the Obama administration seems to be drifting along in the war in Afghanistan. The common talk among economists today is that high unemployment may linger for another decade. Add in low investment and depressed spending (except perhaps by the government) and I fear T.S. Eliot had it right when he wrote: "This is the way the world ends, not with a bang but a whimper."
Those on both the left and right expecting lots future big bangs are going to be sorely disappointed. It's the unspectacular and barely heard whimpers that tell us where we're going. Scott Horton concluded a few days ago about one of those whimpers:
Kazakhs have long claimed that their government’s strategy of resolving the Giffen case by using the right levers with the American administration–a process that led them to hire former attorneys general and high-profile retired prosecutors, private investigators, and public-relations experts–would be successful. The outcome in the Giffen case appears to ratify that view. The notion of an independent, politically insulated criminal-justice administration in America has just taken another severe hit.
Did a Sarah tweet drown out that whimper?
Any Cassandras out there that want to go on record? (Before all of us lose interest.)