By Perkins, John
New African , No. 444
This is a true story as told by John Perkins, in his new book Confessions of An Economic Hit Man. What is an Economic Hit Man (EHM)? Perkins, who was an EHM himself, says an EHM is a person recruited and trained by the American intelligence community (NSA and CIA particularly) and "employed" by private corporations to go around the world and "encourage world leaders to become part of a vast network that promotes US commercial interests. In the end, those leaders become ensnared in a web of debt that ensures their loyalty [to the US]. We can draw on them whenever we desire--to satisfy our political, economic and military needs." For Africa, there is a huge lesson here to learn. This is an extraordinary story--and a book--that every African must read. John Perkins writes:
Economic Hit Men (EHMs) are highly paid professionals who cheat countries around the globe out of trillions of dollars. They funnel money from the World Bank, the US Agency for International Development (USAID), 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. Their tools include fraudulent financial reports, rigged elections, payoffs, extortion, sex, and murder. They play a game as old as empire, but one that has taken on new and terrifying dimensions during this time of globalisation. I should know; I was an EHM.
I wrote that in 1982, as the beginning of a book with the working title, Conscience of an Economic Hit Man. The book was dedicated to the presidents of two countries, men who had been my clients, whom I respected and thought of as kindred spirits--Jaime Roldos, president of Ecuador; and Omar Torrijos, president of Panama.
Both had just died in fiery crashes. Their deaths were not accidental. They were assassinated because they opposed that fraternity of corporate, government, and banking heads whose goal is global empire. We EHMs failed to bring Roldos and Torrijos around, and the other type of hit men, the CIA-sanctioned jackals who were always right behind us, stepped in.
I was persuaded to stop writing that book. I started it four more times during the next 20 years. On each occasion, my decision to begin again was influenced by current world events: the US invasion of Panama in 1989, the first Gulf War, Somalia, the rise of Osama bin Laden. However, threats or bribes always convinced me to stop.
In 2003, the president of a major publishing house that is owned by a powerful international corporation read a draft of what had now become Confessions of an Economic Hit Man. He described it as "a riveting story that needs to be told." Then he smiled sadly, shook his head, and told me that since the executives at world headquarters might object, he could not afford to risk publishing it. He advised me to fictionalise it. "We could market you in the mould of a novelist like John Le Carre or Graham Greene."
But this is not fiction. It is the true story of my life. A more courageous publisher, one not owned by an international corporation, has agreed to help me tell it.
This story must be told. We live in a time of terrible crisis--and tremendous opportunity. The story of this particular economic hit man is the story of how we got to where we are and why we currently face crises that seem insurmountable.
This story must be told because only by understanding our past mistakes will we be able to take advantage of future opportunities; because 9/11 happened and so did the second war in Iraq; because in addition to the 3,000 people who died on 11 September 2001, at the hands of terrorists, another 24,000 people die every single day because they are unable to obtain life-sustaining food.
Most importantly, this story must be told because today, for the first time in history, one nation has the ability, the money, and the power to change all this. …