Book Review: “Confession of an Economic Hit Man” by John Perkins

This book is a tell-all book about an economist, John Perkins, who used his profession to cook up the growth projection on engineering projects so US engineering firm, like Maine, can put the 3rd-world country in deep debt (loaned by IMF) to US that they would need to give concession to US demands. According to the author, this was the early stage of how US extends its global empire. Later, there were oil-rich countries like Saudi Arabia, and Shah of Iran, who didn’t need to borrow but US still offers “protection” in exchange for profitable engineering projects for US contracting firm.

This books reads like a James Bond scripts. It has all the money, greed, sex, conspiracy, bad-boy-turn-good elements. Whether this is true, which I believe the majority are, this book answers a lot of my questions in my mind.

Why the 3rd world countries hate us so much? Because we went the economic hit men into their countries and hi-jack their natural resources and enslave them to be subservient to US, the global empire. He went into great details about how he started his job in Indonesia and went on to Panama, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Ecuador, Columbia, and others. He dove into great details about the Panama strong man, Omar Torrijos, who stood up to US (Jimmy Carter) to negotiate the Panama treaty that returned the canal back to Panama and how and why he was allegedly assassinated by CIA because of his stand.

Why we went to war with Iraq? Because Saddam didn’t want to play the game with US to allow US to handcuff him to US policy. The Bush administration is full of people from the oil firms, contractors, engineering firms that would benefit from invading Iraq so they can get their pound of flesh. And US also needs another oil ally from Saudi Arabia to crack the Opec’s grip.

John Perkins compares the modern “corporatocracy” to the British empire back in the 18th century. We are now applying the same behavior/strategy to the 3rd world countries as British had done to US, in the same of capitalism but no less than a outright economic imperialism. This makes other hate us and envy us at the same time.

The fight between Amazon indigenous people and the oil companies who stole the land from them highlighted the greed and anti-environment stands of the oil companies. By continuing to consume the largest share of the oil in the world, we American are perpetuating the bad corporate behavior while jeopardizing the rain forest, the environment, and the survival of the people who live on the land.

Writing this book is probably therapeutic and self-serving to him, allowing him to rid himself of the guilt of being part of the “system” that rape other countries’ natural resources and enslave their people so they would never become self sufficient. On the other hand, I’m suspicious of the “facts” presented in the book. But I applaud his courage in revealing the dirty little secrets.

The author also reminds us that we may be working unintentionally to extend the global empire. Watch out for the corporate policy that you work for and the products you buy from. Cut down our oil consumption. Know the potential consequences of our actions.

Overall, this is a great audio book. Mr. Perkins is a good writer and story teller. I learned quite a few things about how the US political system and world politics work. Some of South America history was very enlightening. I always had doubts about the motivations behind some of the US’ policy toward certain countries. This book answered a lot of my questions.