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The Secret History of the American Empire: The Truth About Economic Hit Men, Jackals, and How to Change the World Paperback – April 29, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
Having made a splash with Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, Perkins offers similarly entertaining but disturbing accounts of the American government wreaking havoc around the world in support of American business. In Perkins's view, American presidents willingly comply with their CEO masters, distributing foreign aid to corrupt Third World leaders who keep a share and return the rest to U.S. business for major projects, leaving their nations poor and massively in debt, and requiring more loans and slavish obedience to U.S. policy. If any leader objects, the CIA destabilizes his government, by assassination if necessary. Gathering evidence is not Perkins's strong suit. Typically, a shadowy figure pulls him aside, insists on anonymity, then reveals all. Critics will rightfully accuse Perkins of dreadful journalism and a taste for conspiracy theories. Yet economists admit that loans and "expert advice" to poor nations are often harmful. Few deny that America has ruthlessly undermined uncooperative governments and supported dictators including Saddam Hussein. Perkins's assertions that the U.S. assassinated Ecuador's reformist president and connived at genocide in Timor and Sudan are not absurd, merely unproven. This book's greatest value may be to encourage a competent journalist to cover the same ground. (June 5)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“A sweeping, bold assault on the tyranny of corporate globalization, full of drama and adventure, with devastating stories of greed run wild. But Perkins is undaunted, and offers imaginative ideas for a different world.—Howard Zinn, author of A People's History of the United States
“John Perkins' new book is both an eye-opening expose of global corruption and a fascinating story of adventure and intrigue. This devastating indictment of current economic policies also offers hope by showing the power of the growing movement toward a caring economics worldwide.”—Riane Eisler, author of The Chalice and The Blade and The Real Wealth of Nations
“Having made a splash with Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, Perkins offers similarly entertaining but disturbing accounts of the American government wreaking havoc around the world in support of American business. In Perkins's view, American presidents willingly comply with their CEO masters, distributing foreign aid to corrupt Third World leaders who keep a share and return the rest to U.S. business for major projects, leaving their nations poor and massively in debt, and requiring more loans and slavish obedience to U.S. policy. If any leader objects, the CIA destabilizes his government, by assassination if necessary.”—Publishers Weekly
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Perkins was recruited by the international consulting firm of Charles T. Main. He was an economist, with two primary objectives: justify huge loans for countries for huge engineering and construction projects to be carried out by American companies (think Haliburton, Bechtel et al.); after the companies had been paid, he was to help engineer the debtor's bankruptcy so that country would remain indebted to their creditors and remain pliable when the US wanted `favors' like military bases, access to natural resources, etc.
Starting in Indonesia in 1971, a time when Indonesia was believed to be a key to Southeast Asian stability, he made economic forecasts that won him further projects. In 1972 it was Panama. Later, Saudi Arabia came under his spell, and a deal between it and the USA was consummated. With it came a relationship between the American government and the House of Saud, the bin Laden family, and the Bush family, to the immense financial benefit of the latter.
His conscience bothered him since he felt that, by following Main's directives, he was causing much harm to the client states. Iran was his breaking point. As what Perkins called the "corporatocracy" supported the Shah, which led to class wars and hatred of the American companies, and the American government which it blamed for all its woes, especially the rampant corruption and despotic government. After the turn of the year in 1979, the Shah fled the country; less than a year later the American hostages in the Embassy were taken. He quit his job at Main in 1980.
"The Secret History of the American Empire" is another product of his reflections on his past and the changes in his work life. He talks a lot about American influence in Latin America, and the rise of home grown opponents to the Unite States with respect.
As I learned a long time ago, every one is said to have his price; United States employees were outstanding at saving skeletons from other's closets. In fact, after learning of the trap set for President Clinton, he has that information confirmed by a retired CIA officer.
Not unsurprisingly, the chickens came home to America to roost. Our policies in the Middle East blew up in our faces. Those in the Middle East caught on to our lust for oil as we established the Shah of Iran, the House of Saud, the ruling families in Kuwait and Jordan, and a friendly dictator in Egypt, and we supported Israeli militarism. They named America and the West as the enemy as the mullahs gained force, al-Qaida grew, and radical politicians replaced moderate ones, exacerbated by the hero worship of the martyrdom of suicide bombers.
Here are the roots of our current political crises internationally. Moving to the continent of Africa, Perkins addresses the problems we have inherited from the European colonial expansion. Again, once there was a crack in the system, America rushed in, knowing that it was time to expand its influence. The stories are fascinating, and appalling. A letter he cites at length tells the effects of westernization seen through the eyes of an educated young woman, employed by a NGO.
She balances the good that NGOs appear to do against the western influences that attack the fiber of their civilization. In sum she concludes that the bad outweighs the good and calls for a total change of system.
Finally, he outlines and discusses briefly the questions essential to making the change the world needs. There are things each and all of us can do, not only in the face of global warming, but also the inequalities we see around us, not only here in the Americas, but also world-wide. Furthermore, he talked to university students who had been told, and believed, that they were America's future.
I was most deeply moved by the mission statement of two high school students from Seattle who had established Global; Awareness and Change [GAC]. Perkins reduced several lines of type into this: "We commit to creating a stable, sustainable, and peaceful world far all peoples everywhere." Would that we ll could commit to this.
I really urge you to get and read this book and resolve to follow at least some of the suggestions at the end. Bear in mind that if you are not to be part of the problem, you must become part of the solution.
Hint, you can use goo-gone to remove stickers from used books.