Chalmers Johnson: “Things that can’t go on forever, don’t.”


Originally published in Clamor Magazine, Spring 2004.

Chalmers Johnson is a professor emeritus of political science from UC San Diego and president of the Japan Policy Research Institute. He served in the Navy during the Korean war and crossed the Pacific Ocean twice on a tiny boat which was prone to rolling and had a top speed of 10 knots. After a lifetime as a supporter of Cold War foreign policy, Johnson’s most recent books Blowback (2000) and Sorrows of Empire (2004) present thorough criticisms of the United States’ shift toward empire building and its repercussions of ongoing warfare and the loss of civil liberties.

In 1967 Johnson was recruited by CIA director Richard Helms to work as a consultant for the agency. At the time, Johnson was a professor of political science at UC Berkeley defending the Vietnam War to a campus that was revolting against it. “The best reason to keep national intelligence estimates a secret, I once told my wife, was their utter banality. Perhaps they were so highly classified because it would have been embarrassing to have it known that such conventional journalism passed for strategic thought in the Oval Office.”

Read the complete interview at Clamor Magazine archives. Clamor, like all too many other magazines, has passed into the great beyond.