2006.06.05: June 5, 2006: Headlines: Figures: COS - Ecuador: Writing - Ecuador: Development: Economics: Green Left Weekly: Confessions of an Economic Hit Man: The Shocking Inside Story of How America Really Took Over the World

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Ecuador: Special Report: Ecuador RPCV and Author John Perkins: 2006.06.05: June 5, 2006: Headlines: Figures: COS - Ecuador: Writing - Ecuador: Development: Economics: Green Left Weekly: Confessions of an Economic Hit Man: The Shocking Inside Story of How America Really Took Over the World

By Admin1 (admin) (adsl-69-150-133-223.dsl.okcyok.swbell.net - on Friday, July 07, 2006 - 11:08 am: Edit Post

Confessions of an Economic Hit Man: The Shocking Inside Story of How America Really Took Over the World

Confessions of an Economic Hit Man: The Shocking Inside Story of How America Really Took Over the World

Perkins was “a nice kid from rural New Hampshire”, “profiled” as an ideal employee for America’s largest spy organisation, the National Security Agency (NSA), before opting for the Peace Corps as a “volunteer assisting a small cooperative composed of illiterate Andean peasant brick makers”. With his uncle Frank, an NSA spy, pulling levers behind the scenes, Perkins eventually joined MAIN in 1971 as an Economic Hit Man (EHM).

Confessions of an Economic Hit Man: The Shocking Inside Story of How America Really Took Over the World

Dirty deals done for the dollar

Confessions of an Economic Hit Man: The Shocking Inside Story of How America Really Took Over the World
By John Perkins
Ebury Press, 2006
250 pages, $24.95 (pb)


John Perkins cut a brazen figure at meetings of the international lending agencies in the 1970s, presenting, with self-important theatrical swagger, his forecasts of magical double-digit growth figures for the lucky recipient countries of massive international loans. But, writes a repentant Perkins in Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, his bravado not only masked a knack for manipulating statistics and a lack of real economic science (his degree was in business administration, “emphasis on marketing”) it held up, at economic gun-point, poor countries to resource theft, debts they would never be able to pay off and a miserable future as a playground for US engineering companies like Perkins’ employer, Chas T Main Inc. (MAIN), and its cousins like Bechtel and Haliburton.

Perkins was “a nice kid from rural New Hampshire”, “profiled” as an ideal employee for America’s largest spy organisation, the National Security Agency (NSA), before opting for the Peace Corps as a “volunteer assisting a small cooperative composed of illiterate Andean peasant brick makers”. With his uncle Frank, an NSA spy, pulling levers behind the scenes, Perkins eventually joined MAIN in 1971 as an Economic Hit Man (EHM).

The term was that of his “teacher”, the MAIN/NSA liaison, Claudine, who put Perkins in the picture with both sinister threat (“once you’re in, you can never get out”) and open candour — his job, said Claudine, would be “to justify huge international loans that would funnel money back to MAIN and other US companies” (a condition of such loans) and which would bankrupt the debtor countries, tying them to their creditors and making the indebted countries “easy targets for favours” — whether it be military bases, UN votes, or access to oil and other natural resources.

“In essence”, writes Perkins, “most of the money never leaves the United States”. From the US-funded international banks, the loan money “is simply transferred from banking offices in Washington to engineering offices in New York, Houston or San Francisco”, with the banks taking their kilo of flesh through never-shrinking debt repayments.

Perkins saw this winner-take-all game up close in Ecuador, Guatemala and Indonesia. In Ecuador, for example, for every $100 of crude oil now taken out of the Amazon basin rainforests, the US oil companies receive $75, three quarters of what’s left goes to US banks for debt-servicing, leaving $2.50 for health, education and programs for the poor whose numbers, like Ecuador’s public debt, have soared since the “oil boom” financed by development loans.

And if a country refuses to play along, right behind the EHMs come the CIA enforcers and, the ace in the pack, the military muscle. Perkins’ beat took him to Panama, where President Omar Torrijos used the strategic value of the Panama canal to counter the Faustian foreign “aid” deal offered his country. This recalcitrant disappeared in a fiery airplane “accident” (a CIA hit) and when his successor, Manuel Noriega, didn’t prove as compliant as needed, the marines finished the job (with 6000 Panamanian dead) in 1989.

Saudi Arabia’s rulers proved more amenable in 1974, choosing not to flex Saudi oil wealth. Billions of mostly US-funded “development” loan dollars were pumped into the Saudi economy, with Saudi petro-dollars flowing back to US engineering companies (including a lucrative electrification contract for MAIN), whilst oil supply was guaranteed at a volume and price acceptable to the US, as was Saudi royal family loyalty to and dependency on US military and political support. In addition to his statistical boosterism, one of Perkins’ tasks was to win over a Saudi prince to the deal, which Perkins achieved through procuring sex for the prince who had a liking for Western women.

By playing his part in producing phantasmagorical economic growth forecasts to justify billion dollar loans, Perkins’ career soared. He looked at becoming a millionaire before the age of 40, and he dined off a menu rich in adventure, travel and women. Yet, his conscience was troubled. He had subdued its restless whispers with the rationalisations that he was doing some good, or, if not, he was “working from inside” to change things. He could always fall back on the old chestnut that if it wasn’t him, someone else would fill his shoes so why be a mug.

Colombia broke Perkins’ moral impasse. Huge loans to build electricity plants, highways and telecommunications systems were allegedly meant to open up the exploitation of natural resources which would repay the loan debt whilst making life better for the locals. Perkins, whose statistical “dexterity” had been central to this type of claim, had seen enough by now to divine the real aim — enriching US corporates and locking Colombia into debt and political subserviency.

After meeting Paula, a Colombian woman whose brother had joined the guerrillas after being tortured for peacefully protesting the destruction of indigenous lands by US oil companies, Perkins’ conscience at last got the better of him — “I thought about the people who starved each day while my staff and I slept in first-class hotels, ate at the finest restaurants, and built up our financial portfolios” — and in 1980 he resigned from MAIN. For the next two decades, he thought of exposing what he knew, but corporate bribes and the NSA’s veiled threat prevailed until the bloody bringing of Iraq into the Bechtel, Haliburton, World Bank and political puppetry empire of the US in 2003 persuaded Perkins that his story was still relevant and still urgent.

Perkins notes the evolutionary changes to the EHM breed — the NSA may no longer profile business executives for hiring by private corporations, and NSA liaisons may no longer explicitly spell out the EHM role or acronym. But “thousands of EHMs” toting outrageously high salaries “walk the corridors of Monsanto, GE [General Electric], Nike, GM [General Motors], Wal-Mart — every major corporation in the US”, happily “funneling money from the World Bank, the US Agency for International Development, the Inter-American Development Bank and other foreign 'aid’ organisations” into the “coffers of huge corporations and the pockets of a few wealthy families who control the planet’s natural resources”.

Perkins successfully bats away any charge of conspiracy theory by arguing that EHMs are not a “tight group meeting in clandestine hideaways with sinister intent” but that rather the “values and goals” of an economy dedicated to “profit through exploitation” are shared with the “national security” apparatus that protects that activity globally. The US foreign policy bureaucrats and the US corporate elite — what Perkins calls the “corporatocracy” — have their eyes on a common prize.

Whilst Perkins’ prescription for more “compassion, democracy and social justice” is short on agency and sufficient specificity to match up to the scale and malignancy of the EHM problem (there is nothing inherently wrong with corporations, he says, just the perversion of the “ideals of the US Republic” by a lust for empire), his belief that “confession is the first step to redemption” is a necessary starting point. With his brave and honest book, Perkins has not only salved his conscience but opened to other people of conscience a revealing, secretive, insider’s door on what lies behind the global economic and political discontents of the poor.

When this story was posted in July 2006, this was on the front page of PCOL:

Contact PCOLBulletin BoardRegisterSearch PCOLWhat's New?

Peace Corps Online The Independent News Forum serving Returned Peace Corps Volunteers
Jody Olsen is acting Peace Corps Director Date: June 30 2006 No: 920 Jody Olsen is acting Peace Corps Director
The Senate confirmed Gaddi Vasquez to head the FAO on June 30. Jody Olsen will be acting Director until the President makes a permanent appointment. Olsen has been Deputy Director of the Peace Corps since 2002. She has previously served as Chief of Staff for two directors, as regional director for North Africa, Near East, and Asia and the Pacific, and as country director in Togo. She served in Tunisia as a PCV.

Top Stories and Breaking News PCOL Magazine Peace Corps Library RPCV Directory Sign Up

The Peace Corps Library Date: February 24 2006 No: 798 The Peace Corps Library
The Peace Corps Library is now available online with over 40,000 index entries in 500 categories. Looking for a Returned Volunteer? Check our RPCV Directory. New: Sign up to receive PCOL Magazine, our free Monthly Magazine by email. Like to keep up with Peace Corps news as it happens? Sign up to recieve a daily summary of Peace Corps stories from around the world.

Changing the Face of Hunger Date: June 28 2006 No: 915 Changing the Face of Hunger
In his new book, Former Congressman Tony Hall (RPCV Thailand) says humanitarian aid is the most potent weapon the United States can deploy against terrorism. An evangelical Christian, he is a big believer in faith-based organizations in the fight against hunger. Members of Congress have recently recommended that Hall be appointed special envoy to Sudan to focus on ending the genocide in Darfur.

PC will not return to East Timor in 2006 Date: June 8 2006 No: 913 PC will not return to East Timor in 2006
Volunteers serving in East Timor have safely left the country as a result of the recent civil unrest and government instability. Latest: The Peace Corps has informed us that at this time, the Peace Corps has no plans to re-enter the country in 2006. The Peace Corps recently sent a letter offering eligible volunteers the opportunity to reinstate their service in another country.

Chris Dodd considers run for the White House Date: June 3 2006 No: 903 Chris Dodd considers run for the White House
Senator Chris Dodd plans to spend the next six to eight months raising money and reaching out to Democrats around the country to gauge his viability as a candidate. Just how far Dodd can go depends largely on his ability to reach Democrats looking for an alternative to Hillary Clinton. PCOL Comment: Dodd served as a Volunteer in the Dominican Republic and has been one of the strongest supporters of the Peace Corps in Congress.

The RPCV who wrote about Ben Hogan Date: June 6 2006 No: 912 The RPCV who wrote about Ben Hogan
Probably no RPCV has done more to further the Third Goal of the Peace Corps than John Coyne with the Peace Corps Writers web site and newsletter that he and Marian Haley Beil have produced since 1989. Now John returns to writing about his first love - golf in "The Caddie who knew Ben Hogan." Read an excerpt from his novel, an interview with the author and a schedule of his book readings in Maryland and DC this week.

Vasquez testifies before Senate Committee Date: June 3 2006 No: 905 Vasquez testifies before Senate Committee
Director Vasquez testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on his nomination as the new Representative to the United Nations Agencies for Food and Agriculture replacing Tony Hall. He has been the third longest serving Peace Corps Director after Loret Ruppe Miller and Sargent Shriver. PCOL Comment: Read our thanks to Director Vasquez for his service to the Peace Corps.

First Amendment Watch Date: May 4 2006 No: 883 First Amendment Watch
Maine Web Report hit with Federal Lawsuit
Website wins trademark suit against Jerry Falwell

Interview with a Hit Man Date: April 25 2006 No: 880 Interview with a Hit Man
RPCV John Perkins says that for many years he was an "economic hit man" in the world of international finance whose primary job was to convince less developed countries to accept multibillion dollar loans for infrastructure projects that left the recipient countries wallowing in debt and highly vulnerable to outside political and commercial interests. In this exclusive interview for "Peace Corps Online," Colombia RPCV Joanne Roll, author of Remember with Honor, talks to Perkins about his Peace Corps service, his relation with the NSA, "colonization" in Ecuador, the consequences of his work, why he decided to speak out, and what his hopes are for change.

PC Program in Chad temporarily suspended Date: April 14 2006 No: 872 PC Program in Chad temporarily suspended
Director Vasquez announced the temporary suspension of the Peace Corps program in Chad on April 14 and that all 29 Peace Corps volunteers have left the country. With a program dating back forty years (See Page 4 of the April 1966 "Peace Corps Volunteer"), RPCVs hope that volunteers can return to Chad as soon as the situation has stabilized. Congratulations to the Peace Corps for handling the suspension quickly and professionally.

Peace Corps stonewalls on FOIA request Date: April 12 2006 No: 869 Peace Corps stonewalls on FOIA request
The Ashland Daily Tidings reports that Peace Corps has blocked their request for information on the Volkart case. "After the Tidings requested information pertaining to why Volkart was denied the position — on March 2 — the newspaper received a letter from the Peace Corps FOIA officer stating the requested information was protected under an exemption of the act." The Dayton Daily News had similar problems with FOIA requests for their award winning series on Volunteer Safety and Security.

PCOL readership increases 100% Date: April 3 2006 No: 853 PCOL readership increases 100%
Monthly readership on "Peace Corps Online" has increased in the past twelve months to 350,000 visitors - over eleven thousand every day - a 100% increase since this time last year. Thanks again, RPCVs and Friends of the Peace Corps, for making PCOL your source of information for the Peace Corps community. And thanks for supporting the Peace Corps Library and History of the Peace Corps. Stay tuned, the best is yet to come.

History of the Peace Corps Date: March 18 2006 No: 834 History of the Peace Corps
PCOL is proud to announce that Phase One of the "History of the Peace Corps" is now available online. This installment includes over 5,000 pages of primary source documents from the archives of the Peace Corps including every issue of "Peace Corps News," "Peace Corps Times," "Peace Corps Volunteer," "Action Update," and every annual report of the Peace Corps to Congress since 1961. "Ask Not" is an ongoing project. Read how you can help.

RPCV admits to abuse while in Peace Corps Date: February 3 2006 No: 780 RPCV admits to abuse while in Peace Corps
Timothy Ronald Obert has pleaded guilty to sexually abusing a minor in Costa Rica while serving there as a Peace Corps volunteer. "The Peace Corps has a zero tolerance policy for misconduct that violates the law or standards of conduct established by the Peace Corps," said Peace Corps Director Gaddi H. Vasquez. Could inadequate screening have been partly to blame? Mr. Obert's resume, which he had submitted to the Peace Corps in support of his application to become a Peace Corps Volunteer, showed that he had repeatedly sought and obtained positions working with underprivileged children. Read what RPCVs have to say about this case.

Military Option sparks concerns Date: January 3 2006 No: 773 Military Option sparks concerns
The U.S. military, struggling to fill its voluntary ranks, is allowing recruits to meet part of their reserve military obligations after active duty by serving in the Peace Corps. Read why there is opposition to the program among RPCVs. Director Vasquez says the agency has a long history of accepting qualified applicants who are in inactive military status. John Coyne says "Not only no, but hell no!" and RPCV Chris Matthews leads the debate on "Hardball." Avi Spiegel says Peace Corps is not the place for soldiers while Coleman McCarthy says to Welcome Soldiers to the Peace Corps. Read our poll results. Latest: Congress passed a bill on December 22 including language to remove Peace Corps from the National Call to Service (NCS) military recruitment program

Why blurring the lines puts PCVs in danger Date: October 22 2005 No: 738 Why blurring the lines puts PCVs in danger
When the National Call to Service legislation was amended to include Peace Corps in December of 2002, this country had not yet invaded Iraq and was not in prolonged military engagement in the Middle East, as it is now. Read the story of how one volunteer spent three years in captivity from 1976 to 1980 as the hostage of a insurrection group in Colombia in Joanne Marie Roll's op-ed on why this legislation may put soldier/PCVs in the same kind of danger. Latest: Read the ongoing dialog on the subject.

Read the stories and leave your comments.

Some postings on Peace Corps Online are provided to the individual members of this group without permission of the copyright owner for the non-profit purposes of criticism, comment, education, scholarship, and research under the "Fair Use" provisions of U.S. Government copyright laws and they may not be distributed further without permission of the copyright owner. Peace Corps Online does not vouch for the accuracy of the content of the postings, which is the sole responsibility of the copyright holder.

Story Source: Green Left Weekly

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; Figures; COS - Ecuador; Writing - Ecuador; Development; Economics


Add a Message

This is a public posting area. Enter your username and password if you have an account. Otherwise, enter your full name as your username and leave the password blank. Your e-mail address is optional.