Book Review: Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, by John Perkins

Perkins’ Makes You Ask Yourself: What if It’s All True?

The events of September 11 convinced Perkins to finally publish the book | Photo: Penguin Books

Photo: Shure

The events of September 11 convinced Perkins to finally publish the book | Photo: Penguin Books

American Sabboteur

Imagine a corps of professionals, educated at the elite universities of the world, carefully selected by the National Security Agency, recruited by corporations and let loose on the world. Based on overblown growth projections, these professionals convince developing countries to take on loans to buy modern infrastructure. The money goes from the World Bank, USAID, or other organizations straight to the corporations that were contracted to build the projects, leaving the country up to their neck in debt.

And since those growth projections are invariably overblown, and the infrastructure needs constant maintenance, the country remains in debt and grows more and more dependent on the good will of the United States.

What sounds like the jacket blurb from the latest espionage thriller you’d pick up at the airport, is in reality the set up Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, by John Perkins, who claims that he attempted to write this non fiction exposé  since the early 80’s but was either threatened or bribed into not publishing it.

Written in a dynamic first person voice, Perkins explains how he began as an EHM and his professional activity with Chas. T. Main, an “independent” utilities consultant to the governments of various developing countries. He would write exaggerated predictions on potential utilities use (i.e. hydroelectric generators) and convincing leaders to take on loans that they couldn’t possibly repay, in order to commission American engineering companies to build the infrastructure. Perkins traveled all over the world and witnessed key events including Saudi money-laundering affair, the fall of the Shah of Iran, the assassination of Panama’s President Omar Torijos and the subsequent US invasion of Panama.

In 1980, Perkins quit his job and founded an alternative energy company. He prospered, in part because of favors from former colleagues in return for keeping quiet. He also stayed on the payroll of various corporations and received generous commissions. In 1990, he dropped out. He sold his company and started to fight for the rights of South American indigenous cultures, whose environments he had helped to destroy in the first place. Finally, the events of Sept. 11, 2001 convinced him to finish writing the book and publish it.

Photo: Shure

Naturally such a book attracts a variety of reactions.”Perkins book is a truly fascinating and interesting read,” one reader admitted. “Too bad it sounds like my Yoga teacher wrote it.”

Publications like the Washington Post, the New York Times or Boston Magazine criticized Perkins for not providing enough irrefutable proof about the involvement of the NSA. They also attacked his credibility by claiming his earlier books about dream traveling and South American shamanistic healing practices were scientifically unfounded. Perkins did not help his image when he claimed at a book presentation that the US government had assassinated John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr. and John Lennon. This instantly put him into the “conspiracy nut” corner.  On the other hand, one of his former superiors at Main, Einar Greeve, confirmed Perkins’ tale of exaggerated forecasts to trap countries in debt, while denying any connection to the NSA.

In a time where one cannot be sure what is actually going on in the world and who is pulling the strings, it’s difficult to sort out wheat from chaff.  Perkins’ book is not a full  answer. But it does leave us with one very important question:

“What if all of this is true?”

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