Quotes from Blowback, by Chalmers Johnson

- ‘The Japanese invaders, I argued, had created conditions of such savagery, particularly in North China, that the peasant masses who survived their depredations naturally gravitated toward the only group that offered them hope and resistance – the Chinese Communist Party. China illustrated what was soon to become a major political lesson of twentieth-century Asia: only in those circumstances in which the most patriotic act is to join the Communist Party does a Communist movement become a mass movement.’ (xiii)
- ‘The only stable person left among the top Chinese leadership, Premier Zhou Enlai, sought to avoid a preemptive Soviet strike against China’s fledgling nuclear weapons program by opening relations with the devil himself – the United States.’ (xv)
- ‘The term ‘blowback,’ which officials of the Central Intelligence Agency first invented for their own internal use, is starting to circulate among students of international relations. It refers to the unintended consequences of policies that were kept secret from the American people. What the daily press reports as the malign acts of ‘terrorists’ or ‘drug lords’ or ‘rogue states’ or ‘illegal arms merchants’ often turn out to be blowback from earlier American operations.’ (8)
- ‘It is now widely recognized, for example, that the 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, which resulted in the deaths of 259 passengers and 11 people on the ground, was retaliation for a 1986 Reagan administration aerial raid on Libya that killed President Muammar Khadaffi’s stepdaughter.’ (8)
- ‘The epidemic of cocaine and heroin use that has afflicted American cities during the past two decades was probably fueled in part by Central and South American military officers or corrupt politicians whom the CIA or the Pentagon once trained or supported and then installed in key government positions. For example, in Nicaragua in the 1980s, the US government organized a massive campaign against the socialist-oriented Sandinista government. American agents then looked the other way when the Contras, the military insurgents they had trained, made deals to sell cocaine in American cities in order to buy arms and supplies.’ (8)
- ‘Americans generally think of Pol Pot as some king of unique, self-generated monster and his ‘killing fields’ as an inexplicable atavism totally divorced from civilization. But without the United States government’s Vietnam-era savagery, he could never have come to power in a culture like Cambodia’s, just as Mao’s uneducated peasant radicals would never have gained legitimacy in a normal Chinese context without the disruption and depravity of the Japanese war.’ (12)
- ‘In the spring of 1999, a report on the Guatemalan civil war from the UN-sponsored Commission for Historical Clarification made clear that ‘the American training of the officer corps in counter-insurgency techniques’ was a ‘key factor’ in the ‘genocide….Entire Mayan villages were attacked and burned and their inhabitants were slaughtered in an effort to deny the guerillas protection.’ According to the commission, between 1981 and 1983 the military government of Guatemala – financed and supported by the US government – destroyed some four hundred Mayan villages in a campaign of genocide in which approximately two hundred thousand peasants were killed.’ (14)
- ‘The Kurds constitute fifteen million people in a Turkish population estimated at fifty-eight million. Another five million Kurds live largely within reach of Turkey’s borders in Iraq, Iran, and Syria. The Turks have discriminated against the Kurds for the past seventy years and have conducted an intense genocidal campaign against them since 1992, in the process destroying some three thousand Kurdish villages and hamlets in the backward southeastern part of the country.’ (14-15)
- ‘After Israel and Egypt, Turkey is the third-highest recipient of American military assistance.’ (15)
- ‘There was, I believe, far more symmetry between the postwar policies of the Soviet Union and the United States than most Americans are willing to recognize. The USSR in Eastern Europe and the United States in East Asia created their satellite systems for essentially the same reasons. In the course of the Cold War, the USSR intervened militarily to hold its empire together in Hungary and Czechoslovakia. The United States intervened militarily to hold its empire together in Korea and Vietnam (where it killed a great many more people in losing than the USSR did in its two successful interventions). The richest prize in the Soviet empire was East Germany; the richest prize in the American empire is still Japan. Today, much like East Germany before the Berlin Wall came down, Japan remains a rigged economy brought into being and maintained thanks to the Cold War. Its people seemed increasingly tired of the American troops stationed on their soil for the last half century and of the gray, single-party regimes that presided in Tokyo for almost all of those years. East Germany’s dreary leaders Walter Ulbricht and Erich Honecker can appear almost dynamic when compared to the prime ministers Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party has put in office since 1955. Just as the two satraps of the German Democratic Republic faithfully followed every order they ever received from Moscow, each and every Japanese prime minister, as soon as he comes into office, gets on an airplane and reports to Washington.’ (21)
- ‘The United States did not consult the defeated Japanese people about these decisions or about the decision to cultivate the remnants of that country’s unquestionably anti-Communist wartime establishment. Our reliance in some cases on literal war criminals – for example, Nobusuke Kishi, former minister of munitions in Tojo’s wartime cabinet, who became the country’s prime minister in 1957 – and on a CIA-financed single-party regime were the mirror image of Soviet policies in the former German Democratic Republic.’ (23)
- ‘South Korea has been occupied by American forces virtually continuously since the end of World War II. It was the scene of the most important armed conflict of the early Cold War years, the place where the United States and China fought each other to a standstill and froze relations with each other for two decades. Thanks to the United States and the Soviet Union, which in 1945 divided the country for their own convenience, a half century later Korea remains the last place on earth whose borders are determined by where the armies of World War II stopped. South Korea’s rise during the 1960s as a ‘miracle economy’ and its spectacular financial collapse of 1997 were directly related to its status as a satellite of the united States.’ (24-25)
- ‘South Korea is today probably closer to a genuine parliamentary democracy than any country in East Asia, but no thanks to the American State Department, the Pentagon, or the CIA. It was the Korean people themselves, particularly the students of the country’s leading universities, who through demonstrations and street confrontations in 1987 finally brought a measure of democracy to their country.’ (25)
- ‘The rule of Syngman Rhee and the US-backed generals was merely the first instance in East Asia of the American sponsorship of dictators. The list is long, but it deserves reiteration simply because many in the United States fail to remember (if they ever knew) what East Asians cannot help but regard as a major part of our postwar legacy. US-sponsored Asian dictators include:
Chiang Kai-shek and his son Chiang Ching-kuo in Taiwan. (Taiwan started to democratize only in the 1980s after the Carter administration had broken relations with it.)
Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines (brought down by Corazon Aquino and her People Power movement after Presidents Ronald Reagan and George Bush had hailed him as a democrat.)
Ngo Dinh Diem (assassinated on American orders), General Nguyen Khanh, General Nguyen Cao Ky, and General Nguyen Can Thieu in Vietnam.
General Lon Nol in Cambodia.
Marshals Pibul Songgram, Sarit, Thanarat, Praphas Charusathien, and Thanom Kittikachorn in Thailand (where they were essentially caretakers for the huge American air bases at Udorn, Takli, Korat, and Ubon).
General Suharto in Indonesia (brought to power with the help of the Central Intelligence Agency and overthrown with the help of the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency).
Several others had careers too brief or obscure to remember clearly (for example, General Phoumi Nosavan in Laos). These men belong to the same category of petty tyrants that the former Soviet Union used to staff its satellites in Eastern Europe from 1948 to 1989 (although the Russians usually chose obedient members of the local Communist Party apparatus over militarists).’ (26-27)
- ‘While the American demonization of Castro’s Cuba ratcheted upward and the government argued vociferously that Cuban-inspired insurgencies were the hemisphere’s greatest threat, the Cold War was already essentially over. The superpowers continued it only as propaganda cover for their respective neighborhood imperialisms.’ (28)
- ‘There are no credible aggressive new powers that can provoke the breakdown of the US-centered world system, but the United States has even greater capabilities than Britain did a century ago to convert its declining hegemony into an exploitative domination. If the system eventually breaks down, it will be primarily because of US resistance to adjustment and accommodation. And conversely, US adjustment and accommodation to the rising economic power of the East Asian region is an essential condition for a non-catastrophic transition to a new world order.’ Giovanni Arrighi and Beverly Silver (32-33) Chaos and Governance in the Modern World-System
- ‘At the height of the Cold War, the United States built a chain of military bases stretching from Korea and Japan through Taiwan, the Philippines, Thailand, and Australia to Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Germany, England, and Iceland – in effect ringing the Soviet Union and China with literally thousands of overseas military installations.’ (36)
- ‘The island of Okinawa measures 454 square miles, almost exactly the size of Los Angeles and smaller than the island of Kauai in the Hawaiian chain. It now contains thirty-nine bases, ranging from Kadena Air Force Base, the largest airfield in East Asia, to the Sobe Communications Facility, known locally as the ‘elephant cage’ because of its bizarre antennae….Though few of them are contiguous with each other, in total they take up an estimated 20 percent of the prime agricultural land in the central and southern parts of the main island of Okinawa….As a prefecture of Japan, Okinawa occupies only 0.6 percent of Japan’s total land area, but about 75 percent of facilities exclusively used by the American armed forces stationed in Japan are concentrated there. With a population density amounting to 2,198 persons per square kilometer, it is one of the most densely populated areas in the world. Neither Japanese nor Okinawan courts or police have any jurisdiction over these American-occupied lands, seas, and air spaces.’ (37)
- ‘America’s two major wars against Asian communism – in Korea and Vietnam – could not have been fought without bases on Japanese territory. Those military outposts were critical staging and logistics areas for the projection of American power onto the Asian mainland, as well as secure sanctuaries, invulnerable to attack by North Korean, Chinese, Vietnamese or Cambodian forces.’ (39)
- ‘Okinawan daily life in the 1990s was an improvement over the days when the territory was under exclusive American jurisdiction. Japan poured money into the island, understanding that the mainland’s postwar economy had been built partly at the expense of the Okinawans and that a transfer of wealth was in order. Although Okinawa is still Japan’s poorest prefecture, it had by the 1990s reached 70 percent of the national level of wealth.’ (40)
- ‘While the incidence of reported rape in the United States is forty-one for every one hundred thousands people, at the military bases in Okinawa it is eighty-two per one hundred thousand.’ (42)
- ‘When the unauthorized use of such ammunition in Okinawa was exposed, the assistant secretary of defense for public affairs assured the media, ‘There is no danger to the human body or to the environment. The level of radiation is just about half that of a TV set in the 1950s.’ But a TV set emits ultraviolet rays, not gamma or X-rays, and ultraviolet rays do not cause cancer – as the Japanese media were quick to point out.’ (50)
- ‘It is a common bit of American folklore that such bases are vulnerable to local economies, whose peoples have vested interests in them. In the case of Okinawa, this could not be further from the truth. Its major industry today is tourism. The presence of so many sprawling, disconnected American installations, as well as over fifty thousand Americans who do not pay taxes and have no stake in Okinawa’s future, does nothing to enhance the islands’ attraction to Japanese and Taiwanese tourists.’ (50-51)
- ‘Since Okinawa is part of Japan, the United States now pretends that its military bases are there as a result of Japan’s allocation of base sites. This amounts to a permanent collusion of the United States and Japan against Okinawa.’ (57)
- ‘The Japanese government has strongly expressed its own fears of a potential North Korean missile assault ever since Pyongyang in August 1998 fired a rocket over Japan in the process of launching a small satellite. The real threat, however, is that a suicidal North Korea – could deliver some kind of terror weapon (if it has one) to Japan by boat and detonate it there as a final, if futile, act of retaliation for Japan’s brutal colonial rule.’ (58)
- ‘The Japanese, too, have the ability to defend themselves from any likely nonnuclear threat to their security. With the second largest navy in the Pacific, more destroyers than the United States, and 120 F-15 fighter interceptors, Japan is quite capable of meeting any challenge that might arise.’ (60)
- ‘Pentagon theorists, Colonel Summers suggests, are like the New Yorker who spreads elephant bane around his apartment and then extols its benefits because he encounters no elephants. The strategy ‘works’ because the threat is illusory.’ (63)
- ‘On July 17, 1998, in Rome, when, by a margin of 120 to 7, delegates from the nations of the world voted to establish an international criminal court to bring to justice soldiers and political leaders charged with war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide. This court will differ from the International Court of Justice in The Hague in that, unlike the older court, which can settle disputes only among nations, it will have jurisdiction over individuals.’ (65-66)
- ‘Because of misguided policies by the United States and the International Monetary Fund, discussed later in this chapter and in chapter 9, the number of people in Indonesia living below the poverty line grew in a matter of months from twenty-seven million to over a hundred million (half the population), and thirty years of economic gains were wiped out.’ (74)
- ‘The greatest single success of the green revolution occurred after Suharto’s rule: in 1984, Indonesia achieved self-sufficiency in rice production. During Suharto’s rule Indonesia’s per capita income rose from around $75 in 1966 to almost $1,200 in 1996.’ (79)
- ‘Maintaining access to Persian Gulf oil requires about $50 billion of the annual US defense budget, including maintenance of one or more carrier task forces there, protecting sea lanes, and keeping large air forces in readiness in the area. But the oil we import from the Persian Gulf costs only a fifth that amount, about $11 billion per annum. Middle Eastern oil accounts for 10 percent of US consumption, 25 percent of Europe’s, and half of that of Japan.’ (87)
- ‘The government employs some 6,500 people just to coordinate and administer its arms sales program in conjunction with senior officials at American embassies around the world, who spend most of their ‘diplomatic’ careers working as arms salesmen.’ (87)
- ‘The Pentagon falls back on the argument that if it does not sell the arms to Latin America, some other country will. By analogy, Columbia might say to the United States that if it does not grow and sell cocaine to Americans, some other country will.’ (90)
- ‘The American empire has become skilled at developing self-fulfilling – and self-serving – prophecies in order to justify its policies. It expands the NATO alliance eastward in part in order to sell arms to the former Soviet bloc countries, whose armies are being integrated into the NATO command structure, with the certain knowledge that doing so will threaten Russia and elicit a hostile Russian reaction. This Russian reaction then becomes the excuse for the expansion.’ (92)
- ‘First, the ‘threatened’ country is declared part of America’s vital interests; next, American military personnel and commercial camp followers are sent in to ‘assist’ the government. The foreignness of this effort as well as its indifference to democracy and local conditions only accelerate the insurrectionary movement. In the end an American protectorate is replaced by a virulently anti-American regime. This scenario played itself out in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Iran in our time. now it appears it might do so in Saudi Arabia.’ (92)
- ‘Ten years after the end of the Cold War, the Pentagon monopolizes the formulation and conduct of American foreign policy.’ (93)
- ‘Increasingly, the United States has only one, commonly inappropriate means of achieving its external objectives – military force. It no longer has a full repertoire of skills, including a seasoned, culturally and linguistically expert diplomatic corps; truly viable international institutions that the American public supports both politically and financially and that can give legitimacy to American efforts abroad.’ (93)
- ‘What would make the United States more secure is not more money spent on JCET teams or espionage satellites to find a retaliate against terrorists. Instead, the United States should bring most of its overseas land-based forces home and reorient its foreign policy to stress leadership through example and diplomacy.’ (94)
- ‘The American government again showed restraint in the Korean situation, and the student demonstrators with their middle-class backers, seizing the chance, brought into being what is today the only democracy in East Asia, other than the Philippines, that rests on popular political action from below.’ (97)
- ‘The Soviets held on to Korea above the 38th parallel as a bulwark against Japanese influence. There, they promoted and endorsed a Communist government made up of former guerilla fighters against the Japanese.’ (98)
- ‘The consolidation of a pro-Soviet regime in North Korea and a pro-American one in South Korea led to a war that began in June 1950. The North Koreans have consistently claimed that this was a war of national liberation against American imperialism, while Americans have generally characterized it as an international conflict in which North Korea invaded South Korea. It was without question a civil war among Koreans…it was also clearly a war between the United States and China fought on Korean soil.’ (100-101)
- ‘Shortly after North Korea invaded South Korea on June 25, 1950, the United States intervened in force. In the autumn of that year, after American troops had invaded North Korea, China intervened in force.’ (101)
- ‘China and Russian today have friendly diplomatic and economic relations with South as well as North Korea, whereas the United States still has 37,000 combat troops occupying 65,500 acres of South Korean territory at 96 bases and has no formal relations with North Korea.’ (102)
- ‘The KCIA was and is a secret-police apparatus accountable only to the president of South Korea and has been used over the years to silence any and all calls for a genuine democracy. As the historian Perry Anderson observes, ‘In the mid-sixties the KCIA has 350,000 agents out of a population of 30 million, dwarfing the NKVD at its height. The dungeons were filled with opponents of every kind; torture was routine. Yet the regime, which as a front line of the Free World could not dispense with the formality of elections, was never able to crush opposition completely.’ (107)
- ‘The primary goal of the United States was to keep South Korea from turning into ‘another Iran.’ Toward this goal, the Americans were quite prepared to see General Park replaced by a new, perhaps more malleable general who would effectively suppress the rising calls for democracy that might prove ‘destabilizing.’ ’ (109-110)
- ‘General Chun did not wait long after talking with Gleystten to complete the coup d’etat he had begun the previous December. Late on the night of May 17, 1980, General Chun expanded marital law, closed the universities, dissolved the National Assembly, banned all political activity, and arrested thousands of political leaders. Unlike Park, Chun, had no following whatsoever outside the army. All Korean cities were tense with fury at his usurpation of power, but only in Kwangju did the situation explode…On May 18, 1980, a few hundred demonstrators in Kwangju took to the streets to protest the imposition of marital law. They were met by paratroopers of the 7th Brigade of the Korean special forces, known as the ‘black berets,’ who had a well-known reputation for brutality going back to their service on the American side in the Vietnam War. The 7th Brigade also included a battalion of infiltrators and provocateurs, who wore their hair long and dressed to look like students. According to eyewitnesses, the special forces troops set about bayoneting all the young men and women they could find and attacked others with flamethrowers.’ (112)
- ‘Most Americans remain in the dark about what happened at Kwangju or the American role in it. They know much more about the Chinese government’s violent clearing of protesters from Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in 1989 than they do about their own government’s cover-up of the costs of military rule in South Korea.’ (118)
- ‘Asked why the United States was willing to engage North Korea while still maintaining a strict embargo against Cuba, a ‘senior administration official,’ speaking on condition of anonymity, said with a smile, ‘To my knowledge [the Cubans] do not have a nuclear weapons program.’ This difference, in a nutshell, is the secret of how North Korea caught the Americans’ attention.’ (120)
- ‘On August 5, 1994, talks between North Korea and the United States resumed in Geneva, leading to an ‘Agreed Framework,’ which the two sides signed that October 21. According to this agreement the United States was to arrange for the construction by the year 2003 of two 1,000-megawatt light-water reactors in North Korea to replace its current graphite-moderated reactors (a Soviet design from which plutonium can rather easily be extracted for possible use in nuclear weapons). The United States was also to provide fuel oil to replace energy lost by the closing of North Korea’s current reactors, and it was to guarantee that it would not use or threaten to use nuclear weapons on the Korean peninsula. Finally, the United States pledged to open trade and some form of diplomatic relations. For its part North Korea agreed to stop using and then dismantle its Russian reactors, ship its used nuclear fuel rods out of the country, remain a party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and allow IAEA inspections of its nuclear sites.’ (127-128)
- ‘From the time Mao discovered that it would not be easy to duplicate a Stalinist program of development in China – that is, when he discovered that his Great Leap forward campaign to move the country toward heavy industrialization through extreme levels of collectivization had by 1962 resulted in the deaths by starvation of some thirty million people – he experimented with altering the external environment on the cheap. He tried to militarize (he called it ‘revolutionize’) his own society and to reconstruct the external world by sponsoring or endorsing ‘people’s wars.’ Even though it Vietnam this approach succeeded in tarnishing the image of the United States as a superpower, it did not really alter the balance of power, and the Vietnamese soon resented Mao’s claims of paternity to a strategy they had embarked on without Chinese help. Mao’s massive domestic upheaval, the ‘Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution,’ which started in 1966 and lasted in one form or another almost a decade, was his revenge against the Communist Party after he lost control of it in the wake of the Great Leap Forward. It further discredited him, and communism, in the eyes of his main supporters; after his death in 1976 and the return to power of the purged Deng Xiaoping in 1978, the country devoted itself to reform and recovery from the Cultural Revolution.’ (145-146)
- ‘The Chinese Communist Party, the world’s largest political organization, no longer has much legitimacy in the eyes of the Chinese people. Although it came to power in 1949 as the leader of the largest and most complex revolution of all, it squandered its great popularity: in rural China because of the famine that followed the Great Leap Forward; among hard-core Communist revolutionaries because of the Cultural Revolution; and, finally, among urban intellectuals and a burgeoning middle class because of the repression at Tiananmen Square in 1989 and the nearly simultaneous collapse of communism in Europe. The Chinese Communist Party continues to rule through a combination of inertia, improving economic conditions, favorable comparisons with the past, nationalism, and a complex set of inducements and penalties. There is every reason to believe that it will be able to do so for the foreseeable future, despite occasional periods of instability.’ (148)
- ‘The Chinese leaders are firmly convinced that authoritarian rule is indispensable to the success of their market-driven policies, and there is evidence that the Chinese population accepts this view because of the economic achievements of recent years. In this view, without authoritarian political control, economic reform will rapidly breed new economic interests and corruption, already a serious problem.’ (149)
- ‘Always before the Chinese leadership is the example of the virtual collapse of the former Soviet Union and the resulting impoverishment of large sectors of the Russian population when authoritarianism was allowed to lapse and the economy was ‘reformed’ in accordance with the theories of American economists.’ (149)
- ‘Whereas a soft totalitarianism state will employ direct suppression of offending books, imprisonment of authors, state control of Internet servers, and dismissal or imprisonment of dissidents, soft authoritarianism achieves its ends through peer pressure, bullying, fear of ostracism, giving priority to group norms, and eliciting conformity through social sanctions of various kinds. Under both types of regimes, elections are usually to one degree or another only formalities, behind which permanent state officialdoms actually govern.’ (151)
- To be sure, there are factors that could derail China’s emergence as a major power, the most obvious of which are inadequate education and uneven development within the country.’ (151)
- ‘China, with a total population of 1.2 billion, has the staggeringly low total of about 7 million college graduates to help run a massive and massively modernizing economy and society. There are a total of 1,065 institutions of higher learning in China today, with about 2.5 million students. China also sends thousands of students abroad for advanced degrees, but many of them do not come home.’ (152)
- ‘Taiwan is not just a covert economic model for China; it is also one of China’s greatest political conundrums. Although an unquestioned part of China according to international law, the island has become so rich that many of its inhabitants would far rather see their country secede and become independent than find themselves integrated into the poorer, more political repressive mainland. If Taiwan did declare its independence, any number of dreadful developments could follow, ranging from a nationalistic backlash in china that could lead to the overthrow of the regime to an attempted invasion of Taiwan to keep China’s territory intact and a possible larger war involving the United States. The Taiwan problem at the end of the twentieth century is, as it was at the midpoint of the century, still the single most complicated issue of Chinese foreign policy and the most dangerous place where Chinese and American interests intersect.’ (156)
- ‘In the Chinese context irredentism applies to places formerly claimed by Imperial China, whose last dynasty ended in 1912, and allegedly lost due to foreign activity. Without regard to their relative importance, the primary ones in question have long been 1) Hong Kong, 2) Taiwan, 3) various island groups in the South China Sea, and 4) Tibet.’ (157)
- ‘Few Taiwanese of any stripe particularly want to ‘rejoin’ the mainland. Yet they do not dare declare independence, fearing that this would force the hand of the mainland government.’ (159)
- ‘The United States has no basis in international law for intervening on Taiwan’s behalf in what is essentially a not-yet-fully-resolved civil war.’ (160)
- ‘Tibet is another matter. As an independent state or even culture, it is probably doomed. China is currently implementing what the Dalai Lama calls its ‘final solution’ for Tibet – an openly racist policy of state-sponsored Chinese emigration to the area and forced ‘assimilation’ (the word used in the Chinese press is hanhua, literally ‘to make Chinese’) of what is left of the Tibetan people. Tibet’s only hope lies in the extraordinary efforts of the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s priest-king, and his followers in exile in Dharamsala, India, to internationalize their struggle. Combined with continuing Chinese blunders, it is possible (though not likely) that global concern will raise the costs to China of its obstinate and destructive behavior. Meanwhile, Sinophiles at many foreign academic institutions and ministries of foreign affairs continue to advise their political  leaders that Tibet has always been a part of China, which is simply not so.’ (164)
- ‘The legal status of Tibet today is clear and is similar in nature to the kind of colonial rule Japan imposed on Korea in 1910. A seventeen-point agreement, signed by Beijing and Tibetan representatives in 1950 at a moment when the Chinese People’s Liberation Army had occupied much of the country, incorporated Tibet into the Chinese state as a ‘national autonomous region.’ ’ (165)
- ‘In 1959, the Dalai Lama was forced into exile in India, where he has ever since devoted himself to a campaign to publicize the Tibetans’ plight. He turned sixty-three years old in 1999 – and there is every sign that the Chinese will simply try to wait him out, believing that on his death they will be able to appoint a youthful successor, as they have done with the Panchen Lama, the second-holiest lama in the Tibetan hierarchy.’ (165)
- ‘Politics is a game of vulnerabilities, and the human rights issue is clearly where the ‘socialist’ world had proven most vulnerable, just as the economic rights issue is where the ‘capitalist’ world is most open to criticism.’ (167)
- ‘China’s leaders remain preoccupied by the disintegration of societies pressured to adopt Western-style economic and political practices like the former Soviet Union and Suharto’s Indonesia. In their eyes a decision to permit free association when there are so many inequalities of many different kinds left over from the old order or created by the new one is more likely to lead to a political revolution than to produce political harmony. On March 15, 1999, in a news conference that included foreign reporters, Prime Minister Zhu Rongji said, ‘Don’t support these so-called pro-democracy activists. They will bring neither democracy nor the rule of law to China.’ ’ (169)
- ‘The Chinese government’s record of releasing political detainees when the issue is raised with it discreetly has not been bad. In his press conference of March 1999, Premier Zhu said, ‘We welcome foreign friends criticizing us in our work, but don’t be impatient,’ noting that he has grown accustomed to ‘friends from abroad pulling out lists’ of pro-democracy activists who they want released from jail.’ (169-170)
- ‘The second aspect of human rights in China we must recognize is to ensure that poor working conditions and prison labor in China (and elsewhere) do not end up destroying the livelihoods of American workers. Without question the most powerful human rights tool the United States could wield would be to deny access to the American market to products from multinational companies that have abandoned American workers to seek out low-wage foreign workers lacking in economic or political rights of any sort, not to speak of human rights.’ (171)
- ‘China has never tried to become a ‘free-market economy’ but rather to engage and exploit other market economies to become a great power. Economic reform, after all, was undertaken in the first place in order to preserve the Communist Party’s political control and to achieve through other means what it had failed to achieve through Stalinism and then Maoism.’ (173)
- ‘From approximately 1950 to 1975, the United States treated Japan as a beloved ward, indulging its every economic need and proudly patronizing it as a star capitalist pupil. The United States sponsored Japan’s entry into many international institutions, like the United Nations and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, well before a post-World war II global consensus in favor of Japan had developed. It also transferred crucial technologies to the Japanese on virtually concessionary terms and opened its markets to Japanese products while tolerating Japan’s protection of its own domestic market….We proclaimed Japan a democracy and a model of what free markets could achieve while simultaneously helping to rig both its economic and political systems.’ (177)
- ‘In attempting to forge a fully numerical, scientific-looking model of the capitalist economy for purposes of the Cold War, Western ideologues simply assumed that the institutions of modern capitalism must be those that existed in the United States in the late Eisenhower era.’ (183)
- ‘[Japan’s] postwar planners and technocrats instead organized a capitalist economy intended to serve the interests of producers over consumers. They forced Japan’s citizens to save by providing little in the way of a safety net; they encouraged labor harmony regardless of what it did to individual rights; and they built industries based on the highest possible human input rather than simply on some naturally given comparative advantage, such as cheap labor or proximity to a large market like China’s. Their goal was to enrich Japan, if not necessarily the Japanese themselves.’ (184)
- ‘The global economic crisis that began in Thailand in July 1997 had two causes. First, the built-in contradictions of the American satellite system in East Asia had heightened to such a degree that the system itself unexpectedly began to splinter and threatened to blow apart. Second, the United States, relieved of the prudence imposed on it by the Cold War, when any American misstep was chalked up as a Soviet gain, launched a campaign to force the rest of the world to adopt its form of capitalism.’ (194)
- ‘Whatever happens, the crisis probably signaled the beginning of the end of the American empire and a shift to a tripolar world in which the United Statse, Europe, and East Asia simultaneously share power and compete for it.’ (194)
- ‘Oxfam…maintains that the Cold War East Asian economies achieved ‘the fastest reduction in poverty for the greatest number of people in history.’ But the stability of any East Asian economy depended on its keeping its financial system closed – that is, under national control and supervision. Once opened up to the rest of the world, the financial structures of the East Asian developmental states were extremely vulnerable to attack by foreign capital and international financial speculators.’ (199)
- ‘The Allies intended to prevent a recurrence of the protectionism and competitive devaluations of national currencies that had deepened the Great Depression and fueled the rise of Nazism. To do these things, the Bretton Woods conference established a system of fixed exchange rates among the world’s currencies. It also created the International Monetary Fund, to help countries whose economic conditions forced them to alter the value of their currencies, and the World Bank, to help finance postwar rebuilding. The value of every currency was tied to the value of the US dollar, which was in turn backed by the US government’s guarantee that it would convert dollars into gold on demand. Nixon decided to end the Bretton Woods system because the Vietnam War had imposed such excessive expenditures on the United States that it was hemorrhaging money. He concluded that the government could no longer afford to exchange its currency for a fixed value of gold. A more effective answer would have been to end the Vietnam War and balance the federal budget. Instead, what actually occurred was that the dollar and other currencies were allowed to ‘float’ – that is, to be converted into other currencies at whatever rate the market determined. The historian, business executive, and novelist John Ralston Saul described Nixon’s action as ‘perhaps the single most destructive act of the postwar world. The West was returned to the monetary barbarism and instability of the 19th century.’ Floating exchange rates introduced a major element of instability into the international trading system. They stimulated the growth of so-called finance capitalism – which refers to making money from trading stocks, bonds, currencies, and other forms of securities as well as lending money to companies, governments, and consumers rather than manufacturing products and selling them at prices determined by unfettered markets. Finance capitalism, as its name implies, means making money by manipulating money, not trying to achieve a balance between the producers and consumers of goods.’ (201)
- ‘…’globalization,’ an esoteric term for what in the nineteenth century was simply called imperialism.’ (205)
- ‘No one warned them that if they raised their interest rates in order to slow inflation, foreign money would pour into their countries, attracted by high returns, whereas if they lowered interest rates in order to prevent a recession, it would provoke an immediate flight of foreign capital. They did not know that unrestricted capital flows had put them in an impossible position.’ (210)
- ‘The International Monetary Fund entered this picture and turned a financial panic into a crisis of the underlying economic systems.’ (210)
- ‘In Indonesia, when the government ended its dollar peg and let the currency float, the rupiah fell from about 2,300 to 3,000 to the dollar but then stabilized. At that point, with almost no empirical knowledge of Indonesia itself, the IMF ordered the closure of several banks in a system that has no deposit insurance. This elicited runs on deposits at all other banks. The wealthy Chinese community began to move its money out of Indonesia to Singapore and beyond, and the country was politically destabilized, leading ultimately to the overthrow of President Suharto.’ (211)
- ‘We Americans deeply believe that our role in the world is virtuous – that our actions are almost invariably for the good of others as well as ourselves. Even when our country’s actions have led to disaster, assuming that the motives behind them were honorable. But the evidence is building up that in the decade following the end of the Cold War, the United States largely abandoned a reliance on diplomacy, economic aid, international law, and multilateral institutions in carrying out its foreign policies and resorted much of the time to bluster, military force, and financial manipulation.’ (216-217)
- ‘In February 1998, Secretary of State Madeline Albright, defending the use of cruise missiles against Iraq, declared, ‘If we have to use force, it is because we are America. We are the indispensable nation.’ ’ (217)
- ‘In the course of trying to extricate himself from this fratricidal political battle, [President Clinton] twice resorted to military strikes against other countries, a precedent for which he might well have been justifiably impeached. In August 1998, on the day impeachment evidence against him was being released to the public, Bill Clinton ordered cruise missiles fired into a Sudanese pharmaceutical plant and old mujahideen camps in Afghanistan, allegedly the assets or training bases of an international terrorist ring that had attacked US embassies in East Africa; and on the eve of the House of Representatives’ impeachment vote he sent cruise missiles into Iraq, allegedly once again to discipline Saddam Hussein. In neither case did the United States have United Nations or other international authority to act as it did.’ (220)
- ‘In the decade following the end of the Cold War, military budgets consistently gave priority to an arms race that had no other participants. For example, the Pentagon’s budget for the fiscal year 2000 called for replacing the F-15, ‘the world’s most advanced aircraft,’ with the F-22, also ‘the world’s most advanced aircraft.’ (222)
- ‘The world economy needs leadership to re-create something comparable to the Bretton Woods agreement of 1944 to 1971, with fixed exchange rates and controls over the movement of capital. Instead of attempting to homogenize the global economy, we should be championing results-oriented trade of mutual benefit to nations that do not have identical economic systems.’ (225)
- ‘It is only a matter of time until the small nations of East Asia get tired of this American bullying and find a suitable leader to create an anti-American coalition.’ (227)
- ‘What is to be done? Were awareness of an impending crisis of empire to rise among American citizens and their leaders, then it would be fairly obvious what first steps at least should be taken: adjust to and support the emergence of China on the global stage; establish diplomatic relations with North Korea and withdraw ground forces from the Korean peninsula; pay the United States’ dues to the United Nations; support global economic diversity rather than globalization; extricate ourselves from our trade-for-military bases deals with rich East Asian countries, even if they do not want to end them; reemphasize the ‘defense’ in the Department of Defense and make its name fit its mission; unilaterally reduce our stockpile of nuclear warheads to a deterrent level and declare a no-first-use policy; sign and ratify the treaty banning land mines; and sign and ratify the treaty establishing an international criminal court.’ (228)
- ‘Although it is impossible to say when this game will end, there is little doubt about how it will end.’ (229)

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