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Words Independence: priceless

John Perkins confesses he was an agent of globalization who offered countries easy money in exchange for their sovereignty

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"Why do they hate us?" Americans asked after 9-11. John Perkins had learned the answer two decades previously. After 12 years of hesitation, the events of 9-11 impelled him to publish his story in Confessions of an Economic Hit Man. His inside account of multinational companies legally robbing Third World nations of their economic and political integrity make for a fast, gripping read.

Perkins' life story transmits all the conflict and tension of a spy novel. It includes a key character named "Claudine." A mysterious and seductive mentor, she acquaints Perkins with the term Economic Hit Men, used by a small group of corporate agents who refer to themselves only as "EHM." They are "a rare breed in a dirty business. No one can know," she tells him. "Not even your wife."

In using the term to describe Perkins' corporate role, "Claudine's" intent is to help him cut through his American idealism to the cold realities of corporate profit and government controls. Perkins' job is to saddle Third World governments with a national debt that makes them vassals of a corporately driven, transnational empire.

Perkins draws readers into his empire-building assignments. In Panama, we enter a discussion with President Omar Torrijos before his 1981 assassination - probably by the CIA according to Perkins - and the 1989 invasion by U.S. forces. We learn the government and corporate motives behind the assassination and invasion: military bases and Panamanian overtures to Japan to build a wider, sea level canal. Perkins shares his conversation with an Iranian general as Iran's Islamic uprising comes to a boil in 1979. The general tells Perkins how the seeds of that revolution were sown by the CIA's 1953 overthrow of Iran's democratic republic.

Confessions of an economic hit man
By John Perkins
Bennet-Koehler Publishers
$24.95, 265 pages
ISBN: 1576753018
In sizing up the strategic rationales for wars with Iraq, Perkins cites not just oil, water, and geo-politics, but also the failures of economic hit men to co-opt Saddam Hussein. In Saudi Arabia, along with other EHM, Perkins arranges a 1974 deal with the royal family. They will invest their "billions of dollars of oil income in U.S. securities" in exchange for "U.S. guarantees that the royal family will continue to rule."

Readers accompany Perkins on similar exploits to Indonesia, Colombia, and Equador, where local events and personal discourse awaken conscience and reflection. In Colombia, Perkins meets "Paula," a woman whose compassion and integrity jolt him from his rationalizations into becoming a man of principle.

In telling the story of his own fall and deliverance, Perkins also tells our nation's story of collective seduction away from the heritage of a democratic republic into corporatocracy, his word for our form of global imperialism. Perkins concludes by proposing redemption from our fall by inviting readers to engage in the personal consciousness raising that leads to collective movements. Readers can learn more about the author at johnperkins.org and more about his current social activism at Perkins' website, dreamchange.org.


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