EDNOTE : An animated interview of John Perkins, author of ‘HoodWinked’ and ‘Confessions Of An Economic Hitman’
John Perkins has seen the signs of today’s economic meltdown before.
The subprime mortgage fiascos, the banking industry collapse, the rising tide of unemployment, the shuttering of small businesses across the landscape are all too familiar symptoms of a far greater disease.
‘HoodWinked’ By John Perkins
In his former life as an economic hit man, he was on the front lines both as an observer and a perpetrator of events, once confined only to the third world, that have now sent the United States—and in fact the entire planet—spiraling toward disaster. Here, Perkins pulls back the curtain on the real cause of the current global financial meltdown. He shows how we’ve been hoodwinked by the CEOs who run the corporatocracy—those few corporations that control the vast amounts of capital, land, and resources around the globe—and the politicians they manipulate. These corporate fat cats, Perkins explains, have sold us all on what he calls predatory capitalism, a misguided form of geopolitics and capitalism that encourages a widespread exploitation of the many to benefit a small number of the already very wealthy. Their arrogance, gluttony, and mismanagement have brought us to this perilous edge. The solution is not a “return to normal.” But there is a way out. As Perkins makes clear, we can create a healthy economy that will encourage businesses to act responsibly, not only in the interests of their shareholders and corporate partners (and the lobbyists they have in their pockets), but in the interests of their employees, their customers, the environment, and society at large. We can create a society that fosters a just, sustainable, and safe world for us and our children. Each one of us makes these choices every day, in ways that are clearly spelled out in this book. “We hold the power,” he says, “if only we recognize it.” Hoodwinked is a powerful polemic that shows not only how we arrived at this precarious point in our history but also what we must do to stop the global tailspin. From the Hardcover edition.
“Confessions of an Economic Hit Man” By John Perkins
“This is what we EHMs, (Economic Hitmen), do best: we build a global empire. We are an elite group of men and women who utilize international financial organizations to foment conditions that make other nations subservient to the corporatocracy running our biggest corporations, our government and our banks. Like our counterparts in the Mafia, EHMs provide favors. These take the form of loans to develop infrastructure, electric generating plants, highways, ports, airports, or industrial parks. A condition of such loans is that engineering and construction companies from our own country must build all these projects. In essence, most of the money never leaves the United States; it is simply transferred from banking offices in Washington to engineering offices in New York, Houston or San Francisco.”
“Despite the fact that the money is returned almost immediately to corporations who are members of the corporatocracy (the creditor), the recipient country is required to pay it all back, principle plus interest. If an EHM is completely successful, the loans are so large that the debtor is forced to default on its payments after a few years. When this happens, then like the Mafia, we demand our own pound of flesh. This often includes one or more of the following: control over United Nations votes, the installation of military bases, or access to precious resources such as oil or the Panama Canal. Of course, the debtor still owes us the money and another country is added to our global empire.”
September 11 dramatically altered many people’s perspectives on life and the world around us. The horrific events which occurred on that beautiful mid-September morning in 2001 changed John Perkins, author of Confessions of an Economic Hit Man. Mr. Perkins, a highly respected economist, had once worked as chief economist at Chas. T. Main, an international consulting firm in Boston. Even though he worked for a private corporation, he was sent abroad under government contracts to convince leaders of developing countries, places of strategic importance to the US, such as Indonesia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Panama, Ecuador, etc., to accept enormous “loans” from the United States. The money would then be used to pay American companies to build local infrastructure and other projects. So while American corporations were profiting from these “loans,” the countries were sinking into overwhelming debt. The poorest people, who benefited least from these projects, were the ones stuck with the responsibility for payment. These countries usually became US puppet regimes, open to American corporate manipulation. If a leader refused to play the game, the consequences could be lethal. This is blatant economic blackmail – where your best buddy turns out to be the vindictive loan shark.
Perkins resigned from the job about 20 years ago, because morally and ethically, he felt it was “wrong to play such a key role in creating an international empire at the expense of the poor and less advantaged around the world.”
The author was paid extremely well to be an “economic hit man,” as he describes the position. He worked alongside the heads of the IMF, World Bank, and other notable global financial institutions. Perkins began writing a book shortly after he resigned, with the working title, “Conscience of an Economic Hit Men.” He wanted to dedicate the book to Jaime Roldós Aguilera, former president of Ecuador, and Omar Torrijos Herrera, former president of Panama. He had enormous respect for both men, held them in high esteem, and thought of the two as “kindred spirits.” Unfortunately, Roldos and Torrijos had both been his clients. They both died in fiery plane crashes. According to Perkins, their deaths were not accidental. They were assassinated, targets of the CIA, because they opposed the goals of corporate, government, and banking leaders, which were, and are, to build and maintain a global empire. The CIA has long assisted American corporations to remain dominant in foreign markets, by overthrowing governments hostile to unregulated capitalism.
In the early 1970s, the Royal House of Saud agreed to send most of their petro-dollars back to the United States and invest them in U.S. government securities. The Treasury Department used the interest from these securities to hire U.S. companies to develop Saudi Arabian infrastructure, and the House of Saud agreed to maintain the price of oil at reasonable limits. In return, the US would use its resources to keep the House of Saud in power.
After attempting to implement something similar to the Saudi policy in Iraq, and failing, US industry, in concert with government, wanted to depose Saddam Hussein. Saddam did not play ball. When the “economic hit men” were not able to convince the infamous dictator to cooperate, CIA “jackals” went in to foment revolution or a coup. It was not so easy, however, to overthrow or kill Saddam. His bodyguards were too good and he used doubles. Perkins draws the conclusion, based on his experience, knowledge and hard facts, that the present Iraqi war was our next step. He cites the billions of dollars in US government contracts awarded to US corporations, like the Bechtel Group Inc., and Halliburton Company’s subsidiary Kellog Brown & Root.
The author was persuaded and even bribed to refrain from writing this book about his professional experiences. And, although he began to write on various occasions over the intervening years, he did stop. World events, such as the U.S. invasion of Panama in 1980, the first Gulf War, Somalia, and the rise of Osama bin Laden, convinced him to put his manuscript aside, again and again. Perkins stated in a recent interview with Pacifica Network’s Democracy Now program, “When 9/11 struck, I had a change of heart.” He concluded the interview by saying, “I believe the World Bank and these other institutions can be turned around….We can change that.”
Perkins’ tale is a gripping one and the international and political intrigue involved gives the non-fiction book the feel of a suspense thriller. The narrative is very well written and fast-paced. I do highly recommend Confessions Of An Economic Hit Man. Whether you like Mr. Perkins or not, he has some very valuable information and insights to share. One cannot help but benefit.
Jana L. Perskie has been an avid reader, with an eclectic taste in literature, since childhood and is a Top 100 Reviewer for Amazon.com. She lived and worked in Mexico and Latin America for 15 years, and in Iran for 3 years.
She speaks Spanish fluently and loves Latin American/Spanish literature, music, dance and food. Collecting first edition, signed, 20th century American fiction is a passion she is trying to wean herself away from – a very expensive hobby. Other interests include sailing, painting (has a MFA), listening to jazz and classical music…and READING! She presently works as a Human Resource Consultant and resides in Manhattan.