John Perkins, Economic Hit Man
Hear Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! interview John Perkins, Author of Confessions of an Economic Hitman Here (with a transcript as well) or by clicking below:
Here are some Excerpts from the Interview:
AMY GOODMAN: We turn to someone on the inside who decided to speak out, and he is John Perkins, has written the book, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man. He came into our studios to talk about his former work, going into various countries to try to strong-arm leaders into creating policy favorable to the U.S. government and corporations, what he called the “corporatocracy.” John Perkins says he was an economic hit man. I began by asking him to explain this term.
JOHN PERKINS: We economic hit men, during the last 30 or 40 years, have really created the world's first truly global empire, and we've done this primarily through economics, and the military only coming in as a last resort. Therefore, it's been done pretty much secretly. Most of the people in the United States have no idea that we've created this empire and, in fact, throughout the world it's been done very quietly, unlike old empires, where the army marched in; it was obvious. So I think the significance of the things you discussed, the fact that over 80% of the population of South America recently voted in an anti-U.S. president and what's going on at the World Trade Organization, and also, in fact, with the transit strike here in New York, is that people are beginning to understand that the middle class and the lower classes around the world are being terribly, terribly exploited by what I call the corporatocracy, which really runs this empire.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, before we move further, your experience with it? Explain the vantage point you come from. What does it mean to be an economic hit man?
JOHN PERKINS: Well, what we've done -- we use many techniques, but probably the most common is that we'll go to a country that has resources that our corporations covet, like oil, and we'll arrange a huge loan to that country from an organization like the World Bank or one of its sisters, but almost all of the money goes to the U.S. corporations, not to the country itself, corporations like Bechtel and Halliburton, General Motors, General Electric, these types of organizations, and they build huge infrastructure projects in that country: power plants, highways, ports, industrial parks, things that serve the very rich and seldom even reach the poor. In fact, the poor suffer, because the loans have to be repaid, and they're huge loans, and the repayment of them means that the poor won't get education, health, and other social services, and the country is left holding a huge debt, by intention. We go back, we economic hit men, to this country and say, “Look, you owe us a lot of money. You can't repay your debts, so give us a pound of flesh. Sell our oil companies your oil real cheap or vote with us at the next U.N. vote or send troops in support of ours to some place in the world such as Iraq.” And in that way, we've managed to build a world empire with very few people actually knowing that we've done this.
AMY GOODMAN: And you worked for?
JOHN PERKINS: I was recruited by the National Security Agency, the one that's in the news so much today because of spying on people, and I was tested by them, recruited by them --
AMY GOODMAN: What do you mean you were recruited by them?
JOHN PERKINS: Well, while I was a senior in business school at Boston University, they came to me and suggested that I take their test. I had connections through my wife with people in the agency, and they put me through a series of tests, personality tests, lie detector, several days, and concluded that I would make a good economic hit man, and they also discovered a number of weaknesses in my character, which they could use then to hook me into the business, and then I ended up working for a private corporation.
AMY GOODMAN: Why didn't you work for the N.S.A.?
JOHN PERKINS: Because these days it's not done that way. Nobody wants to be able to connect the dots. So the N.S.A., the C.I.A., these types of organizations often recruit economic hit men and the jackals, the assassins, the 007 types, but they will recruit us, maybe train us, and then turn us over to a private corporation, so that you really can't make the connection, so that if I were caught at what I was doing in one of these countries, it would not reflect on our government; it would only reflect on the corporation that I worked for.
AMY GOODMAN: And who did you work for?
JOHN PERKINS: I worked for a company called Charles T. Main, a big consulting firm out of Boston.
AMY GOODMAN: And your job?
JOHN PERKINS: Well, I started off as economist, became chief economist, and my job really – I had a staff of several dozen people. My job was to get them, and for me to convince these countries to accept these very large loans, to get the banks to make the loans, to set up the deal so that the money went to big U.S. corporations. The country was left holding a huge debt, and then I would go in or one of my people would go in and say, “Look, you know, you owe us all this money. You can't pay your debts. Give us that pound of flesh.”
The other thing we do, Amy, and what's going on right now in Latin America is that as soon as one of these anti-American presidents is elected, such as Evo Morales, who you mentioned, in Bolivia, one of us goes in and says, “Hey, congratulations, Mr. President. Now that you're president, I just want to tell you that I can make you very, very rich, you and your family. We have several hundred million dollars in this pocket if you play the game our way. If you decide not to, over in this pocket, I've got a gun with a bullet with your name on it, in case you decide to keep your campaign promises and throw us out.”