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Perkins - Confessions of an Economic Hit Man (2004) - Synopsis

Perkins - Confessions of an Economic Hit Man (2004) - Synopsis



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Published by Mark K. Jensen
Synopsis of John Perkins, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man (San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2004). Discussed at Digging Deeper (www.ufppc.org) on June 20, 2005.
Synopsis of John Perkins, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man (San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2004). Discussed at Digging Deeper (www.ufppc.org) on June 20, 2005.

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Published by: Mark K. Jensen on May 22, 2009
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Digging Deeper VI: The Corporation at Work in Peace & War (www.ufppc.org) June 20, 2005
 John Perkins,
Confessions of an Economic Hit Man
(San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2004).
Originally conceived in 1982, afterassassinations of Jaime Roldós, president of Ecuador,and Omar Torrijos, president of Panama (ix). “This isnot fiction. It is the true story of my life” (x). Decisionto ignore bribes & threats and write the book inspiredby daughter Jessica, and dedication to American ideals(x). Essence of system is ensnaring world leaders in aweb of debt to advance U.S. commercial interests (xi).Not a conspiracy, an ideology rather (xii; see 216 forstatement of ideology). “In their drive to advance theglobal empire, corporations, banks, and governments(collectively the
) use their financial andpolitical muscle to ensure that our schools, businesses,and media support both the fallacious concept and thecorollary (xii-xiii). If economic hit men (EHMs) fail,“jackals” [CIA], then military step in (xiii). Book writtento avoid empire’s tragic end by turning it “towardcompassion, democracy, and social justice for all” (xiii).Acknowledgments (xiv-xv).
2003 visit to Shell, Ecuador, to meet withindigenous peoples fighting international oilcompanies; recollections of work in Ecuador as EHM,starting in 1968 (xvi-xix). “Subtlety of this modernempire puts” earlier empire builders “to shame” (xx).“We [EHMs] seldom resort to anything illegal becausethe system itself is built on subterfuge, and the systemis by definition illegitimate” (xxi).
PART I: 1963-1971Ch. 1: An Economic Hit Man Is Born.
Born inHanover, NH, in 1945 (3). Father an ex-Navyschoolteacher at Tilton School (3). Local schools;family looked down on locals (4). At 14, Tilton School;Middlebury on academic scholarship (4-5). Friendshipwith Farhad, son of Iranian general (cf. 117); drops out(5-6). Studies business administration at BostonUniversity (6). Marries Ann; to avoid draft, interviewsfor NSA through Ann’s father and does well because “Iwas seducible” (6-7). Chooses Peace Corps in Ecuadorinstead (8-9). Meets Einar Greve, VP at Chas. T. Main(MAIN), an international consulting firm, and later signson at age 26 as a MAIN economist (9-11).
Ch. 2: “In for Life.”
MAIN a closely held corporation,and so is little known (12). Mystification (12-13).Meets and is seduced by Claudine Martin, whosemission is “to mole me into an economic hit man”whose job is “to justify huge international loans thatwould funnel money back to MAIN and other U.S.companies (such as Bechtel, Halliburton, Stone &Webster, and Brown & Root) through massiveengineering and construction projects,” and then to“work to bankrupt the countries that received thoseloans (after they had paid MAIN and the other U.S.contractors, of course) so that they would be foreverbeholden to their creditors, and so they would presenteasy targets when we need favors, including militarybases, UN votes, or access to oil and other naturalresources” (14-15). “The deceptive nature of GNP” akey element in the scheme of justifying projects (16).Most MAIN employees believe they are doing good(16). Doubts (17). Origins of system: KermitRoosevelt engineers overthrow of Mossedegh (18).1960s see development of symbiosis of government,corporations, and multinational organizations toachieve same ends, with EHMs whose work, if everexposed, “would be chalked up to corporate greedrather than to government policy” (19).
Ch. 3: Indonesia: Lessons for an EHM.
MAIN’selectrification project in Indonesia as part of plan to“seduce Indonesia away from Communism” (20-21).Marriage with Ann breaks up; Claudine warns him“never to admit to anyone about our meetings” (22).
Ch. 4: Saving a Country from Communism.
Part of a team in 1971 to design electrification project for Javaled by Charlie Illingworth (23-25). Qualms: “mycollege professors had not understood the true natureof macroeconomics” (26). Rationalizations; alsopromises to self “that one day I would expose thetruth” (27).
Ch. 5: Selling My Soul.
Team moves to Bandung(28). Howard Parker, retired chief load forecaster forNew England Electric System, troubles him withaccusation of being “in it for the money,” vows not toinflate forecasts (29-31). Charlie presses for growthrates of at least 17% per annum (32). Howard falls ill(33).
PART II: 1971-1975Ch. 6: My Role as Inquisitor.
“Rasy,” his tutor in thesimplified Indonesian language of Bahasa, takes him ona night on the town (37-39). Has the impression thathis pre-arranged meetings are all orchestrated (39-41).
Ch. 7: Civilization on Trial.
After a
performance depicting U.S. bent on world conquest, a“beautiful English major” explains that “The West
especially its leader, the U.S. ― is determined to takecontrol of the world, to become the greatest empire inhistory,” cites [and misquotes] Toynbee (45).
Ch. 8: Jesus, Seen Differently.
Works on plan, givesmoney to beggars (47). Wonders: “Is anyone in theU.S. innocent?” (48). Imagines world in which U.S.devotes itself to social causes (49). Dreams of Christ(50). Failed attempt at reconciliation with wife (50-51).
Ch. 9: Opportunity of a Lifetime.
Howard Parkerhas been fired (52). Claudine had disappeared (53).Produces desired economic forecast (54). Tries toemulate Robert McNamara; doubt system, but avoidsthinking about role in it (55-57).
Ch. 10: Panama’s President and Hero.
Panama’shistory (58-59). Hopes raised by Omar Torrijos (59-60).Monroe Doctrine (61). Assigned to close deal on MAINmaster development plan (62).
Ch. 11: Pirates in the Canal Zone.
Fidel’sintroduction to Panama (62-66).
Ch. 12: Soldiers and Prostitutes.
Visit to bar;prostitutes are refugees from fascist-dominatedcountries (67-70).
Ch. 13: Conversations with the General.
Inpersonal conversation, Torrijos asks for a reasonable,not an inflated master plan (71-75).
Ch. 14: Entering a New and Sinister Period inEconomic History.
OPEC crisis (76-77). RobertMcNamara’s role as “an agent of global empire on ascale never before witnessed,” able to “bridge the gapsbetween the primary components of thecorporatocracy,” like “his successors,” George Schultz,Caspar Weinberger, Richard Helms, Richard Cheney(78-80).
Ch. 15: The Saudi Arabian Money-LaunderingAffair.
Saudi Arabia (81-83). In the long run, the oilcrisis served “to strengthen the corporatocracy” (83).Schemes to funnel petrodollars back to U.S. economy(83-84). Foundation of JECOR (U.S.-Saudi Arabian JointEconomic Commission); MAIN the lead consultant (84).Devises visionary plan to transform Saudi Arabianeconomy as part of a project with no name, but whichthey nicknamed SAMA (Saudi Arabian Money-laundering Affair), all coordinated out of the TreasuryDept., but without any Congressional oversight (84-91).Believes Kissinger was the envoy employed toimplement the plan (91). Assigned to “Prince W.” tobring him on board (92).
Ch. 16: Pimping, and Financing Osama binLaden.
Procures sexual partners for prince (93-94).Project finally “approved by the royal family,” MAINgets contract (95).
PART III: 1975-1981Ch. 17: Panama Canal Negotiations and GrahamGreene.
Success, wealth, partnership at MAIN (101).Use of Markov modeling for pseudoscientific basis(102-02). Published 1975 article in
Boston Globe
(103).Chance meeting with Graham Greene in 1977 inPanama; Greene encourages him to write book (104-07).
Ch. 18: Iran’s King of Kings.
Involvement in Iran,1975-1978. Invitation from Yamin, a “radical” (109).Conversation (110-12).
Ch. 19: Confessions of a Tortured Man.
Yaminintroduces him to “Doc,” adviser to the Shah to turnedagainst him and was tortured by SAVAK; he urges himto get MAIN out of Iran while he can (113-116).
Ch. 20: The Fall of a King.
Chance encounter withFarhad, who moralizes about U.S. involvement in Iran &gives Perkins a ticket to get out (117-19).
Ch. 21: Colombia: Keystone of Latin America.
Columbia (120-22). Paula, a “catalyst” to change thecourse of his life (122-23).
Ch. 22: American Republic versus Global Empire.
“‘Oh, Paula, I detest myself for playing this role’” (124-27). The “old American republic” and the “new globalempire,” a “new highly subtle form of imperialism”(127-29).
Ch. 23: The Deceptive Résumé.
Examines his ownrésumé (131-37). Agonizes over its deceptiveness andhis work for “a system that is morally repugnant andultimately self-destructive” (137-40).
Ch. 24: Ecuador’s President Battles Big Oil.
JaimeRoldós, populist Ecuadorian president. (141-45).
Ch. 25: I Quit.
Leinster Bay, St. John Island, VirginIslands: “I too had been a slaver” (146-50). ResignsApril 1, 1980.
PART IV: 1981-PRESENTCh. 26: Ecuador’s Presidential Death.
New careeras expert witness (154). President Ronald Reagan,“servant of the corporatocracy” (154-56).Assassination of Jaime Roldós (156-57 [cf. ix]).
Ch. 27: Panama: Another Presidential Death.
Assassination of Torrijos (158-61 [cf. ix]).
Ch. 28: My Energy Company, Enron, and GeorgeW. Bush.
Marries Winifred Grant; father a Bechtelarchitect (162). Founds Independent Power Systems(163). MAIN folds (165). Enron (165). G.W. Bush &Harken Energy (165-66).
Ch. 29: I Take a Bribe.
Energy industrydevelopments (167-68). By selling deregulation to int’linstitutions like the World Bank, “it was easy to expandthe EHM concept into the larger community” (169).Decision to write book (170). Aborted by a tacit bribein the form of a sinecure at Stone & WebsterEngineering Corporation (SWEC) (170-72).
Ch. 30: The United States Invades Panama.
Noriega’s memoir’s account of events in Panama (173-78). 1989 invasion a sign of return to “old methods of empire building” (176). Analysis of “my owncorruption” (179-80). Globalization advocate as“modern slave trader” (180-81).
Ch. 31: An EHM Failure in Iraq.
Iraq: oil, water,geopolitics (182-84). Saddam as disobedient vassal(184). Sells IPS to Ashland Oil (185). Founds non-profitDream Change Coalition (186). Wants to resume book,but friends dissuade him (187-88).
Ch. 32: September 11 and Its Aftermath for Me,Personally.
Chat with Shakaim Chumpi of the Shuaron Sept. 10, 2001 (189-90). Sept. 11 as letting in “thelight” (191). Visit to Ground Zero, with more than one“odd coincidence” (190-95).
Ch. 33: Venezuela: Saved by Saddam.
Venezuelaand its oil (196-97). Thoughts of book juxtaposing

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