Perkins, John. Confessions of an Economic Hit Man. Berrett-Kohler Publishers. San Francisco, USA.

An Economic Hit Man, an EHM, is apparently a precise job description, a profession practised around the world by people (primarily white, male and USA citizens) who are usually known as advisors, consultants or experts.

It took John Perkins a long time to get around to publishing his confessions, complete with a fair amount of hair pulling and wearing of hair shirts. But somewhere around retirement age, Perkins decided to tell all and keep the respect of his adult daughter. His hand wringing lasted for 40 years and it gets a bit tiresome, but in the end Perkins comes through with the goods – a detailed record of his experiences. This is a very dense account; he must have kept good notes and have a good memory, he also tried to write his confession four times before he completed this book. It is a story that needed to be published and I hope it gets a wide circulation and readership. Maybe his personal revelations will make it easier for readers to identify with him and to accept this amazing record of the deliberate destruction of one country after another, the impoverishment and oppression of million of people, to advance the construction in cold blood of the most powerful and greedy empire the world has ever known: The United States of America.

The introduction to the preface lays it all out.

“ETM are highly paid professionals who cheat countries around the world out of trillions of dollars. They funnel money from the World Bank, USAID and other foreign “aid” organizations 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 globalization.
I should know; I was an EHM.”

For many people who do read this book, the revelations are no surprise, although I hope it is read by many to whom they are new and shocking. What is shocking for me is the extraordinary complexity and decades of planning and duplicity on so many levels that makes these events possible. I have always assumed that for every plane crash, killing an independently minded leader, for every currency failure, or for any overthrow of a government in the last 50 year, the USA was to blame. Other sources, like William Blum, have verified these assumptions. This book reveals exactly how it was done, by people with families, personalities, problems, who deliberately choose and are proud of their choice of a career that could and does create tragedy and terror for many. It is the exactness and wealth of detail that are so amazing. A friend in the USA told me, after reading this book, “When we say these things, we are disregarded. The value here is that Perkins was an insider and really knows – he can´t be disregarded.”

It is a global journey from South America to Indonesia to Iran and Iraq and around again. Bringing his story up to date he writes that maybe Venezuela, a new exciting model for many countries, may have been saved by Iraq or maybe it means things are changing, but that change is fragile and Venezuela has to be careful. He has a special interest in Ecuador where he started his career as a Peace Corp volunteer and EHM in training. He sees it as the case study for everything that all USA governments have done for decades, destroying nations, ruining people and culture and stealing resources. The USA government took the lead with the help of banks, corporations and other countries along with thousands of ordinary people who just did their jobs in the system, relishing the rewards and opportunities. Perkins was just one of them. His good fortune was to know the indigenous people of the Andes and to have the grace to listen to them. Maybe their clarity and understanding of USA and globalization was one influence; another was the history of USA against colonialism. The events of September 11, 2001 finally convinced Perkins wrote his story for all to read and to accept his responsibility for his actions as an EHM — who he says are even more ubiquitous today than ever before.

Filed under Book Reviews, John Perkins