Debating the Crisis in Freedonia

Over at the Nation, New York University Law Professor Stephen Holmes reviews Chalmers Johnson’s new book Nemesis (which, like his previous books, and like all books predicting America’s downfall, will surely be translated into German soon).

Holmes is skeptical of Johnson’s predictions of America’s imminent demise (as am I), but is grimly impressed (as am I) by how little Americans seem to know about their country’s foreign policy:

But before we lay all the blame on newspapers and networks that may have deceived the American public, we need to consider the possibility that many Americans did not and do not want to be informed about the misdeeds of their own government abroad. A majority of the electorate supported Bush for some time after the pretexts for the Iraq War were exposed as mendacious and the appalling behavior of some American personnel at Abu Ghraib became well-known. Support waned only after the war turned into an undeniable and embarrassing fiasco, not because a large majority was appalled that the war had been launched on false pretenses or conducted by immoral and illegal means.

For his part, Johnson desperately wants his fellow citizens to look at their country, if only for a moment, through the eyes of others. He almost begs his American readers to imagine what it would be like to have foreign soldiers stationed on bases inside the United States, molesting teenage American girls and running over American pedestrians while driving drunk. That anyone is listening is doubtful, however, which is why Johnson, in the end, lodges no more hope in American citizens than in the Congress they periodically elect. America’s chilling disregard, not merely to the plight of ordinary Iraqis today but even to the deaths, since the 2003 invasion, of tens and perhaps hundreds of thousands of civilians who had never harmed any Americans, springs from sources deep within American political culture. It was not produced by Karl Rove’s trompe l’oeil propaganda and cannot be overcome by Chalmers Johnson’s scholarship, however penetrating and thoughtful.

Fortunately, the Onion news service is doing its best to keep American informed:

http://www.theonion.com/content/themes/common/assets/videoplayer/flvplayer.swf

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