— The Erimtan Angle —

Quite some years ago, John Perkins’ book Confessions of an Economic Hit Man hit the bookstands Here is Abby Martin interviewing the author about how corporations are determining the world order, and how assassins take out those who challenge the system.

Since the publication of his Confessions, Perkins has been actively trying to spread the word by means of lectures, book tours and publishing more books on the topic. Originally published in 2004, I read it in 2007 at about the time when Naomi Klein’s magisterial Shock Doctrine was also causing its own minor shockwaves in book shops across the world.

Perkins defines his topic as follows: “Economic hit men (EHMs) are highly-paid professionals who cheat countries around the globe out of trillions of dollars. 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 included 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]  While reading Perkins’ tome I oftentimes wondered about the veracity of his claims – his description of the way in which corporations run the world seems like a straightforward proposition that is all but explained in great detail by Naomi Klein’s take on the Chicago School’s influence on world affairs and by her own coinage of the term Disaster Capitalism – and particularly Perkins’ self-confessed role in certain key episodes. In 2006, the Washington Post’s op-ed columnist Sebastian Mallaby wrote a critical piece on Perkins and EHM. In fact, Mallaby even calls the author a “frothing conspiracy theorist, a vainglorious peddler of nonsense”.[2]

Rather than questioning Perkins’ personal role in the business of EHM and their affairs, Mallaby uses his piece to defend the “corporatocracy”, calling them “neither evil nor omnipotent”.[3]  He goes on to say that “the truth is that corporations do not rule the world, and intensifying global competition has rendered them more vulnerable. Since the mid-1970s, when Perkins was touring the world as a hit man, fully half of the top 100 American industrial corporations have disappeared from that list. So what is this corporatocracy that Perkins fears? Is it the failing General Motors? Or vanished international banks such as S.G. Warburg? Or is it perhaps Chas. T. Main, Perkins’s own employer in his hit-man days, which was swallowed up by a rival years ago?”.[4]

Rather than criticise Perkins for his possibly inflated sense of his own importance as an EHM, Mallaby turns out to be merely defending the corporatocracy and its Neo-Colonialist actions around the world, succinctly summarised in the term Globalization. The first decade of this century has shown us how effective Disaster Capitalism can be and that nowadays, the powers-that-be do not even need to use EHM anymore, but that wars are simply declared, leading the way to immense profits and other lucrative deals. In this context, Robert Greenwald’s Iraq for Sale is enlightening as well as frightening to watch.[5]

Returning to Perkins and his coinage EHM, the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State released a statement on 2 February 2006: ‘Perkins claims that the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) recruited him to be an “economic hit man,” who deliberately entrapped foreign countries in unmanageable amounts of debt so they would be beholden to the United States. This appears to be a total fabrication . . . Perkins is apparently not aware that the National Security Agency is a cryptological (codemaking and codebreaking) organization, not an economic organization.  It has two missions:

• Designing cipher systems that protect the integrity of U.S. information systems; and

• Searching for weaknesses in adversaries’ systems and codes.

Neither of these missions involves anything remotely resembling placing economists at private companies in order to increase the debt of foreign countries . . . Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, which Perkins says has been translated into some 20 languages, is popular because it is an exciting, first-person, cloak-and-dagger tale that plays to popular images about alleged U.S. economic exploitation of Third World countries.  Perkins raises legitimate questions about the impacts of economic growth and modernization on developing countries and indigenous peoples. But his claim that he was acting as an “economic hit man” at the behest of the NSA appears to be a total fantasy’.[6]  Is Perkins merely a conman exploiting legitimate criticism of the corporatocracy to further his own interests or was he really active as an EHM at one time???


[1] “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man” Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confessions_of_an_Economic_Hit_Man.

[2] Sebastian Mallaby, “The Facts Behind the ‘Confessions’” The Washington Post (27 February 2006). http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/02/26/AR2006022601265.html.

[3] Sebastian Mallaby, “The Facts Behind the ‘Confessions’”.

[4] Sebastian Mallaby, “The Facts Behind the ‘Confessions’”.

[5] Cfr. “Iraq for Sale: The War Profiteers” A Pseudo-Ottoman Blog (30 April 2012). https://sitanbul.wordpress.com/2012/04/30/iraq-for-sale-the-war-profiteers/.

[6] “Confessions — or Fantasies — of an Economic Hit Man?” Archive (02 February 2006). http://www.america.gov/st/washfile-english/2006/February/20060202155604atlahtnevel6.165713e-02.html.


Comments on: "Breaking the Set: John Perkins & Economic Hit Men" (4)

  1. Freddy said:

    great put up, very informative. I’m wondering why the other specialists of this sector do not understand this. You must continue your writing. I’m sure,
    you’ve a great readers’ base already!

  2. eleanore-gracia said:

    Hello! Do you use Twitter? I’d like to follow you if that would be ok. I’m undoubtedly enjoying your blog and look forward to new updates.

  3. I’d have to check with you here. Which is not something I do! I enjoy reading a post that will make people think. Also, thanks for allowing me to comment!

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