John Perkins and His Confessions of an Economic Hit Man

They funnel money from the World Bank, the U.S. Agency for International Development (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.”

Other revelations by Perkins are equally impressive. According to him, in his 2004 book “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man,” Saudi Arabia has a very special relationship with the U.S. since mid-1970s.

He says,
“The evidence was indisputable: Saudi Arabia, America’s longtime ally and the world’s largest oil producer, had somehow become, as a senior Treasury Department official put it, ‘the epicenter’ of terrorist financing… Saudi largess encouraged U.S. officials to look the other way, some veteran intelligence officers say. Billions of dollars in contracts, grants, and salaries have gone to a broad range of former U.S. officials who had dealt with the Saudis: ambassadors, CIA station chiefs, even cabinet secretaries…”

Perkins came to get such knowledge not only because he was a respected economist, but also because of his involvement, decades ago, with NSA (National Security Agency) and even designing massive projects in Saudi Arabia.

In the 1960s and 1970s, NSA was not internationally known, but today, because of the leaks of former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, NSA’s stealthy activities comprising surveillance and espionage have been exposed. Yet, ten years before Snowden, John Perkins had already made a significant exposé, which remained largely unnoticed, because apparently no one was willing to believe that the mysterious NSA was a malignant octopus.

How did Perkins come to know NSA? In 1967 he married to a woman whose uncle was a top echelon executive at NSA. In 1968 he was profiled by the NSA as an ideal economic hit man (EHM).

He had been deliberately hired by NSA because of his non-conservative qualities and a lack of moral values. A truly conservative, moral man would never do what he was hired to do.

In 1981 he married to another woman whose father was chief architect at Bechtel Corporation and was in charge of designing and building cities in Saudi Arabia — work financed through the 1974 EHM deal.

About his NSA training, Perkins said,
“First, I was to justify huge international loans that would funnel money back to MAIN and other U.S. companies (such as Bechtel, Halliburton, Stone & Webster, and Brown & Root) through massive engineering and construction projects. Second, I would work to bankrupt the countries that received those loans (after they had paid MAIN and the other U.S. contractors, of course) so that they would be forever beholden to their creditors, and so they would present easy targets when we needed favors, including military bases, UN votes, or access to oil and other natural resources. My job, [NSA agent] said, was to forecast the effects of investing billions of dollars in a country. Specifically, I would produce studies that projected economic growth twenty to twenty-five years into the future and that evaluated the impacts of a variety of projects. For example, if a decision was made to lend a country $1 billion to persuade its leaders not to align with the Soviet Union, I would compare the benefits of investing that money in power plants with the benefits of investing in a new national railroad network or a telecommunications system. Or I might be told that the country was being offered the opportunity to receive a modern electric utility system, and it would be up to me to demonstrate that such a system would result in sufficient economic growth to justify the loan. The critical factor, in every case, was gross national product. The project that resulted in the highest average annual growth of GNP won. If only one project was under consideration, I would need to demonstrate that developing it would bring superior benefits to the GNP. The unspoken aspect of every one of these projects was that they were intended to create large profits for the contractors, and to make a handful of wealthy and influential families in the receiving countries very happy, while assuring the long-term financial dependence and therefore the political loyalty of governments around the world. The larger the loan, the better.”

This was in the 1970s. I remembered Brazil, my country. In the 1970s, the military government in Brazil kept up massive investments in infrastructure — highways, telecommunications, hydroelectric dams, etc. The military rule, under President Ernesto Geisel, borrowed billions of dollars. Brazil was enjoying an investment boom that had pushed annual GDP growth to over ten percent. Large-scale infrastructure projects, such as the Itaipu and Tucuruí hydroelectric dams, fueled growth, and Brazil emerged as the undisputed industrial leader in Latin America, earning the title “the Brazilian miracle.” But the boom fell apart. By 1982, Brazil halted payment of its main foreign debt, which is among the world’s biggest.

Brazil was apparently the perfect field for EHMs’ activities. The Brazilian military government, which made investments of billions of dollars in infrastructure, ended with loans and massive debts. And these debts had no relation with corruption, because the military government was corruption-free. Probably, in the modern history of Brazil, Brazilians never had a so corruption-free government as the military government was.

If the job of EHMs (and their colleagues) was to persuade countries to take out loans worth billions of dollars, often to pay for infrastructure projects that the EHMs themselves recommend, as John Perkins wrote in his book “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man,” then Brazil was probably a big victim.

As Brazil, many of the nations put into debt in the 1970s and 1980s were ruled by right-wing militarists and their debts were used by their socialist enemies as a reason to put their nations into a socialist route. The economic explorations made these military allies of the U.S. vulnerable before socialists.

The Brazilian military rule in the 1980s was plagued by inflation, recession and massive foreign debt. The International Monetary Fund was a daily subject in the Brazilian news. Socialist Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who in 2002 was elected president of Brazil, agitated against the Brazilian government. His main weapon was the economic crisis, which made the Brazilian people discontent with the military presidents.

I cannot imagine the military rule in Brazil running into massive debt because of corruption. I only can imagine, by all the clues pointed by Perkins, that there is a possibility that they fell into an economic hit man’s trap.

John Perkins’ book was recommended to me by a U.S. conservative leader.

By reading his book, you see NSA and other U.S. agencies as machines of economic exploitation of nations. But often such exploitation is facilitated by political leaders of these nations who also exploited economically their own people. I do not believe that this was the case in Brazil, because the Brazilian military rule was hard-working. When socialists overthrew U.S. allies in Latin America — an overthrow facilitated by U.S. economic hit men —, they themselves became exploiters, economically and also socially and religiously, because socialism severely stifles speech and religious freedom.

Perkins saw so much corruption among his professional peers in America exploiting the poor in Third-World nations that he began to see favorably socialist ideas, thinking that socialism was the only answer to the massive capitalist corruption he saw coming from his own nation. Of course, he did not know the Gospel, which is the only real answer to socialism and capitalist corruption.

The human nature is wicked. If it occupies a high post, it explores people under its control.

People without the Gospel should be capable of not exploring other people, because they have a conscience.

People who have the Gospel are under a double responsibility not to explore, because they have God’s conscience available to them (the Gospel) and their own conscience.

It not a sin to be wealthy. But God commands the rich to be also wealthy in generosity. Yet, socialism sees all wealth (except for the wealthy socialist establishment) as exploitation. The Bible does not see all rich as exploiters. There are rich and there are exploiters. And there are wealthy exploiters.

In his book, Perkins writes,
“‘We’re a small, exclusive club,’ [NSA agent] said. ‘We’re paid—well paid—to cheat countries around the globe out of billions of dollars. A large part of your job is to encourage world leaders to become part of a vast network that promotes U.S. commercial interests. In the end, those leaders become ensnared in a web of debt that ensures their loyalty. We can draw on them whenever we desire—to satisfy our political, economic, or military needs. In turn, these leaders bolster their political positions by bringing industrial parks, power plants, and airports to their people. Meanwhile, the owners of U.S. engineering and construction companies become very wealthy… [NSA special agent] described how throughout most of history, empires were built largely through military force or the threat of it. But with the end of World War II, the emergence of the Soviet Union, and the specter of nuclear holocaust, the military solution became just too risky.”

Perkins also shows how the U.S. changed profoundly Iran through stealthy economic actions. He said,
“The decisive moment occurred in 1951, when Iran rebelled against a British oil company that was exploiting Iranian natural resources and its people. The company was the forerunner of British Petroleum, today’s BP. In response, the highly popular, democratically elected Iranian prime minister (and TIME magazine’s Man of the Year in 1951), Mohammad Mossadegh, nationalized all Iranian petroleum assets. An outraged England sought the help of her World War II ally, the United States. However, both countries feared that military retaliation would provoke the Soviet Union into taking action on behalf of Iran. Instead of sending in the Marines, therefore, Washington dispatched CIA agent Kermit Roosevelt (Theodore’s grandson). He performed brilliantly, winning people over through payoffs and threats. He then enlisted them to organize a series of street riots and violent demonstrations, which created the impression that Mossadegh was both unpopular and inept. In the end, Mossadegh went down, and he spent the rest of his life under house arrest. The pro-American Mohammad Reza Shah became the unchallenged dictator. Kermit Roosevelt had set the stage for a new profession, the one whose ranks I was joining.”

Of course, the U.S. strategy in Iran eventually backfired, and today Iran has a mortal hatred of America.

Perkins also said,
“By 1968, the year I interviewed with the NSA, it had become clear that if the United States wanted to realize its dream of global empire (as envisioned by men like presidents Johnson and Nixon), it would have to employ strategies modeled on Roosevelt’s Iranian example. This was the only way to beat the Soviets without the threat of nuclear war. There was one problem, however. Kermit Roosevelt was a CIA employee. Had he been caught, the consequences would have been dire. He had orchestrated the first U.S. operation to overthrow a foreign government, and it was likely that many more would follow, but it was important to find an approach that would not directly implicate Washington. Fortunately for the strategists, the 1960s also witnessed another type of revolution: the empowerment of international corporations and of multinational organizations such as the World Bank and the IMF. The latter were financed primarily by the United States and our sister empire builders in Europe. A symbiotic relationship developed between governments, corporations, and multinational organizations.”

Perkins explains more about their dirty work:
“Roosevelt-as-CIA-agent problem had already been worked out. U.S. intelligence agencies—including the NSA—would identify prospective EHMs, who could then be hired by international corporations. These EHMs would never be paid by the government; instead, they would draw their salaries from the private sector. As a result, their dirty work, if exposed, would be chalked up to corporate greed rather than to government policy. In addition, the corporations that hired them, although paid by government agencies and their multinational banking counterparts (with taxpayer money), would be insulated from congressional oversight and public scrutiny, shielded by a growing body of legal initiatives, including trademark, international trade, and Freedom of Information laws.”

Saudi Arabia is “lucky.” Billions of its dollars in contracts, grants, and salaries to U.S. officials have protected the Islamic nation from dark consequences of EHMs.
Perkins was related to Tom Paine (1737-1809), the American revolutionary leader who fought for the U.S. independence from England. With his conscience, Perkins had a motivation to write his book against the exploitations from NSA and other U.S. agencies.

He said,
“I only had to return to the American Revolution and Tom Paine for a model. I recalled that Britain justified its taxes by claiming that England was providing aid to the colonies in the form of military protection against the French and the Indians. The colonists had a very different interpretation.”