HOW THE EAST WAS WON: Economic Hit Man Blows the Whistle on U.S. Neo-Colonialism

By Goodman, Amy | CCPA Monitor, June 2005 | Go to article overview

HOW THE EAST WAS WON: Economic Hit Man Blows the Whistle on U.S. Neo-Colonialism


Goodman, Amy, CCPA Monitor


One of the most explosive books published in recent months is Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, in which author John Perkins blows the whistle on the methods he and other economic strategists used to lure poor countries into debt and then force them to open their markets to mainly U.S. investors and corporations. In the following interview with Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! - http:// www.democracynow.org-he describes how he masterminded some of the manipulative tactics that saddled poor nations with huge debts they couldn't possibly repay. They were thus brought under the control of the World Bank, the IMF, and other U.S.dominated "aid" agencies that acted like loan sharks, dictating exorbitant repayment terms and bullying foreign governments into submission.

AMY GOODMAN: John Perkins, please explain this term "economic hit man," as you call it, and what you did.

JOHN PERKINS: Basically, what we were trained to do was to build up the American empire-to create situations where as many resources as possible flow into this country, to our corporations and our government, and in fact we've been very successful. We've built the largest empire in the history of the world. It's been done over the last 50 years since World War II with very little military might, actually. It's only in rare instances like Iraq where the military comes in as a last resort. This empire, unlike any other in the history of the world, has been built primarily through economic manipulation, through cheating, through fraud, through seducing people into our way of life, through the economic hit men. I was very much a part of that.

GOODMAN: How did you become one? Who did you work for?

PERKINS: Well, I was initially recruited while I was in business school back in the late 1960s by the National Security Agency, the nation's largest and least understood spy organization; but ultimately I worked for private corporations. The first real economic hit man was back in the early 1950s, Kermit Roosevelt, the grandson of Teddy, who overthrew of government of Iran, a democratically elected government headed by Ayatollah Mossadegh, who was Time magazine person of the year; and Roosevelt was so successful at doing this without any bloodshed-well, there was a little bloodshed, but no military intervention, just spending millions of dollars and replacing Mossadegh with the Shah of Iran. At that point, we understood that this idea of using economic hit men was an extremely good one. We didn't have to worry about the threat of war with Russia when we did it this way. The problem was that Roosevelt was a CIA agent. He was a government employee. Had he been caught, we would have been in a lot of trouble. It would have been very embarrassing. So, at that point, the decision was made to use organizations like the CIA and the NSA to recruit potential economic hit men like me and then send us to work for private consulting companies, engineering firms, construction companies, so that, if we were caught, there would be no connection with the government.

GOODMAN: Okay. Explain the company you worked for.

PERKINS: The company I worked for was a company named Chas. T. Main in Boston, Massachusetts. We were about 2,000 employees, and I became its chief economist. I ended up having 50 people working for me. But my real job was deal-making. It was giving loans to other countries-huge loans, much bigger than they could possibly repay. One of the conditions of a loan-let's say $1 billion to a country like Indonesia or Ecuador-and this country would then have to give 90% of that loan back to a U.S. company, or U.S. companies, to build the infrastructureto a Halliburton or a Bechtel. These were the big ones. Those companies would then go in and build an electrical system or ports or highways, and these would basically serve just a few of the very wealthiest families in those countries. The poor people would be stuck ultimately with this amazing debt that they couldn't possibly repay. …

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