The first time I saw or heard of this book was during an election interview of Budhadheb Bhattacharya. The campaigning had been called off and it was a personal peek into the life of this marxist poltician.
Newscaster: "What are you doing today ?"
Budha: "Nothing, just catching up on reading"
Saying this, Budha brandishes a copy of this book. Time went by and one day I found myself within the higginbothom's stall in Chennai central railway station. I had an instant recall and made an instant purchase. Obviously I live an instant life :). Summary
Authored by John Perkins
, Confessions of an economic hitman
is a story of the insider turned whistle blower.
This book talks of how corporations benifit from American imperialism. The things that they do, the lies they tell and how they leverage economic institutions like IMF, World bank, USAID to promote the economic interests of American corporations.
It begins with John perkins childhood, about his insecurity of having poor parents in an affluent school and his converting these inadequacies into a source of strength. He goes on to lay the foundation of the inner conflict which would dogg him for years to come.
John joins the peace corps to avoid getting drafted into the vietnam war and proceeds to work with Ecuador. He is guided by the uncle of his girlfriend/wife who works in the NSA. The NSA does an extensive testing of John's motivations in life and declares him as an ideal candidate to be an EHM (Economic hit man). NSA further advises him to join the peace corps and develop his skills and contacts.
While in ecuador John gets recruited by MAIN one of the biggest contracting companies then in the USA which appoints him as an economic analyst. John's worldwide sojourn starts. He is trained by Claudia on the techniques of economic manipulation, econometrics and high growth projection of statistics. According to john the procedure was simple. American consulting firms like his would be deputed to countries on statistical and economic assignments. These firms would depute their EHM trained executives ( just a few of them who are trained in liason with NSA and other US govt. agencies) to conduct econmic and statistical analysis and project growth based on cooked up numbers. These numbers would be based as reasons for extending large loans to the countries.
Developemental works like power projects, electrification etc would then be contracted to American companies most notably Bechtel, Haliburton etc. These projects would ensure that the loans granted would be immediately ploughed back into American companies. As time goes by the growth projections (sometimes as high as 20%) would not be achieved in a sustained fashion and the countries would bear high interest burden for the loan repayments (sometimes as high as 50% of national budgets).
The threat of this is used by American governments both democratic and republican to
leverage for votes, oil drilling rights, access to these countries resources etc.
John claims that the role of the economic hitman is to project cooked up statistics and economic growth and enslave the rulers of the nation using, kickbacks, sex and other western gizmos.
This in his opinion would ensure American domination across the world. He proceeds to add, "not of the common man but of a few corporates who are closely tied to the government". Bush Sr, Bush Jr, Rumsfield, Ford, Shultz, Cheney are all examples of this. He calls this "Corporatocracy". John proceeds to argue that the general American population are clue less of what America does to the world and elicits that as the reason why many are surprised of the backlash America receives.
Further EHM's are part of a larger 3 stage process of American corporotocracy.
Joh says, "If EHM's fail, The jackals step in.". By "Jackals", john means the assasination squad of the American government CIA. Panama's Richard Torrjos and Ecuador's president killed in quick succession of each other is given as failure of EHMs and success of Jackals. Both died mysteriously in plane crashes and had vowed to fight American Imperialism
The third stage is all too familiar to the world. John calls it thus. "When the jackal's fail, young men and women from rural america are sent to die in foreign lands". Iraq and Panama (under Manual Noriega) are given as examples of failure of jackals.
John calls all these a coordinated set of events and rips the masks surrounding US governmental AID to countries. He asks this questions "If so many people are against American Aid in the world ? and are so ungreatful of America, why is America so eager to promote AID ?, because it is profitable and it helps America". How ? was my first question as I sat confused ?.
towards the end of the book he explains. "American dollar is today the currency of the world. The currency of transactions between countries. Only America is allowed to print these dollars and the confidence and strength of American economy is what makes the world invest in America. America has printed billions of dollars and funded reconstruction and developement projects in many countries. This funding is unproductive and inflationairy. At the end of the day the american economy pays for it with high public debt (6 trillion USD). Some day if China calls for its loans back or if saudi arabia switches to euro's instead of America, this ghost will come back to roost".
He ends that book with a warning of what will happen to the world if we dream it and build it the American way. Amazonian jungle tracks in Ecuador are lost forever because of texaco oil company. The indegeneous Shaur's are displaced in their own land and their way of lives lost forever.
This book is a tremendous eye opener and illustrates beautifully the politics of middle east, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia.Iran
1953 Mossadeg a democratically elected ruler in Iran was overthrown by American propoganda machinery who stirred up the oil companies, businessmen and labour unions. The Shah was propped up as the ruler.
Verdict : EHM - failiure, Jackals - success. Saudi Arabia (Hose of Saud)
The house of saud was coopted using money, Sex, status, to clean up saudi arabia and build palaces, electrification projects, construction, defence and the whole gamut of stuff we call as developement.
Verdict : EHM - resounding success. Iraq
Saddam propped up by USA for its opposition to Iran and vast oil resources (next only to saudi arabia). Sold billions of dollars of weapons and help build WMDs. Fomented a war against Iran which went for a decade. WMDs which America helped to build was used to gas kurds, shias and other minorities.
Saddam nationalised oil companies and attacked Kuwait. War declared on iraq.
verdict - EHM failure, Jackal failure, young men and women sent to die.
teritorial war did not gaurentee them oil access as UN took over oil management in iraq. War declared again and occupation of iraq was launched.
Verdict - Young men and women sent to die. This time, they did die.
Meanwhile Haliburton, Bechtel and the American oil companies are benifiting from the spoils.
The american corporatocracy interest in Saudi arabia forced them to turn a blind eye to the extreme relegious fanatism the House of Saud was promoting. The house of Saud pumped billions of oil dollars into Hamas, Pakistan, Mujahideen and ismalic jihad.
These islamic relegious orgainsations was the foundation for taliban and Alqaeda. The most virulent of all.
Finally the shit hits the fan september 11 happens.
The cycle is long. Too long for common public memory, but according to john the connections are unmistakable. My take on this book
1) Absolutely authentic in terms of facts and events.
2) Poorly constructed in terms of the narration.
3)I think this book is another case of profiteering and lacks genuineness from the
author. e.g. john claims to be morally torn about his choices all through his life
about the work he is doing and yet continues to do it for 20 long years.
After quitting from this, he goes on to form a alternative power company called
IPS and sells it off to an oil company. His explaination of threat and fear rings
hollow. Looks to me that he played with the big guys all along and snitched for a
lucritive book deal.
4) Some of the later events which John claims to be not involved with appears
sketchy and dubious. Some thrash this as conspiracy theory.
Vasu's Recommendation : Buy it. Good read and perfectly plausible. If its true that John did work for MAIN, I would even say a lot of the things he says is credible. But I am not the one to buy he was a noble soul.
I dont need to, at the end of the day I still credit John Perkins for having told this story however badly written or with illdisguised intentions it might be