In my first 48 hours on vacation, I read the book entitled Confessions of an Economic Hit Man“, where author John Perkins describes “Corporatocracy” as the collaboration of large corporations, international banks and governments in their greedy quest for global supremacy.
In his role as an “Economic Hit man” (EHM), Mr. Perkins’ job was provide inflated forecasts for economic growth for developing countries with the goal of landing huge construction and engineering contracts for U.S. firms. These countries would receive large loans from The World Bank or the International Monetary Fund for the proposed projects with the expectation that they would be unable to meet the payments of their loans. This would in effect hold these countries hostage and U.S. corporations would be free to ravage their natural resources or sway government policy in U.S. favour. He notes that if the EHM fails, the “jackals” are released to do their part. He references the jackals role in several U.S. assisted coup d’etat’s and the plane explosion assinations of Ecquadorian president Jaime Roldos Aguilera and Panama’s Omar Torrijos. When the jackals fail, Perkins notes that the American troops are then sent to die for their country; by far the most costly of the 2 alternative options.
He compares the exploitation of cheap labour by large corporations to the pre-Civil war South slave owners. The corporations (and slave owners) see themselves as helping the third world countries by providing them jobs (where the slave owners saw themselves doing a good deed by providing slaves a roof over their head and a better life than they saw in Africa). The U.S. economy depends on access to oil and to cheap labour in the same way that the economy in the pre-war south depended on the slaves. It’s something that corporations have become used to. The last things shareholders want to hear is that their dividends are going to decrease because a product can no longer be manufactured in Indonesia, or a construction company’s profit will dwindle because their illegal Mexican workers are being deported.
What’s also noted in the book and is very interesting is the fact that Mr. Perkins was employed by a privately owned company. There was no congressional oversight in any of the activities the corporation took part in. His company could meet the goals of the U.S. government without being held accountable by the people. It’s interesting when you look at how intertwined the corporations are with the government. Many high-level elected government officials previously held high positions in the private corporations that play a huge role in rebuilding developing countries.
After hundreds of years of imperialism by the Brits, the French, the Dutch, etc, these countries have learned their lessons. With the United States and its form of imperialism since World War 2, it has yet to learn its lesson. The costly war in Iraq might get the picture across, while memories of the Americans fighting to oust the British in the 18th century seemed to have been forgotten. Bush has very recently announced he plans to send more troops to Iraq to fight “terrorism” and to win peace. It’s not that simple. The enemies and terrorism were a creation of the U.S. military and corporate greed. More fighting will create more enemies. Where’s Jimmy Carter when you need him? Islamic militants cannot be defeated by an army. It can only be defeated by dialogue and compassion.
Editor’s note: In an article recently posted on TIME.com, sources have revealed that the U.S. is funding and supporting covert operations to oust Syria’s leader Bashar al-Assad. Perkins would say this is the “jackals” doing their work.
you’re on freakin vacation, this is no time to be writing economics/political science papers!! go shop for some new clothes 😉
actually, this is hardly news since corporations and governments have been collaborating in foreign exploitation for… well… basically forever. what is most insidious is that the entire international “democratic” and “free-economy” frameworks allow this kind of expoitation to go on, unobserved to the common man, and unmoderated by any international body. i totally agree with you that it’s disturbing and completely unsettling.
as for what lessons the British or French or Dutch have learned from their periods of imperialism, i’m not sure that i believe that given the opportunities, they would not emulate this pattern of behaviour. America seems merely to have the upper hand (for the time being) as it’s largely considered the nexus of economic and military strength to the democratic/free-market world. this paradigm may shift with the rise of the Far East, so it will be an interesting time for these EHMs.
here’s one more chilling thought though. what if tomorrow, or Christmas Day, dialogue and compassion won out and fair trade policies and non-interventional tactics were adopted by every nation? can you imagine the destabiization that would occur? if suddenly, you had to pay $700 for a pair of Nike running shoes, or $2.40 per pound for bananas? There’s no doubt that third-world nations would be better able to control their own finances, but the impact to the western world would be incalculable. people would have to freaking ride bicycles rather than drive to work – and NO ONE wants THAT, do they? 😉
you are a very smart man, jim.
I am Parichat from Thailand who you accepted as friend in Hi5.com. My nickname is Jim, too!
This looks like an interesting and alarming book. It does concern me how much influence and power corporations have to scheme with one another and with governments. It does seem to me that corporations have become too powerful and much too politically influencial.
Greater attention needs to paid to this issue, but that is a difficult task given that corporations control the media. Thank goodness for blogs and indies.
George, these issues always seem to be on my mind. Although I took a break from work, school and hockey, I didn’t manage to take a break from world politics. It’s one of those things that I can’t shake.
Thanks for your insight too. The world would definitely destabilize if something changed drastically. Third world economy’s rely on their cheap labour and exports, as does the Western world.
The most disturbing part to me is how few of the people on this planet own the majority of the assets on the planet. The gap between the rich and the poor is getting larger, not smaller.
Brett, indeed the evolution of blogs and other independent sources of media have made a huge impact.
I think new media sources and blogs have had a profound impact on the mainstream media. It has forced mainstream media to look deeper, and try to show the larger picture. Indeed all media outlets will be biased in some ways, but at least there is less that can be hidden now because somebody will reveal the missing information on a blog, and the mainstream media can’t ignore this.
>>One of the commenters at Fitzgerald’s Jihad Watch piece linked to this. It contains excerpts from an amazing article by Martha Gellhorn, written in 1961.
“I had appreciated and admired individual refugees but realized I had felt no blanket empathy for the Palestinian refugees, and finally I knew why…It is hard to sorrow for those who only sorrow over themselves. It is difficult to pity the pitiless. To wring the heart past all doubt, those who cry aloud for justice must be innocent. They cannot have wished for a victorious rewarding war, blame everyone else for their defeat, and remain guiltless….
Arabs gorge on hate, they roll in it, they breathe it. Jews top the hate list, but any foreigners are hateful enough. Arabs also hate each other, separately and, en masse. Their politicians change the direction of their hate as they would change their shirts. Their press is vulgarly base with hate-filled cartoons; their reporting describes whatever hate is now uppermost and convenient. Their radio is a long scream of hate, a call to hate. They teach their children hate in school. They must love the taste of hate; it is their daily bread. And what good has it done them?
There is no future in spending UN money to breed hate. There is no future in nagging or bullying Israel to commit suicide by the admission of a fatal locust swarm of enemies. There is no future in Nasser’s solution, the Holy War against Israel; and we had better make this very clear, very quickly.”
But for the Nasser reference, it could have been written yesterday.
Abdul Wahhab al-Kayyali, a Palestinian academic with whom I had studied in London in the late 1960s; he had used the newly-opened British archives on Palestine to write a thesis on the 1936 Palestinian revolt, then returned to the region and tried to set up his own guerrilla group only to be murdered, probably by the Syrians
Salim al-Lawzi, the Lebanese journalist who had moved his weekly al-Hawadith to London when the war began; he returned for his mother’s funeral and was captured by the Syrians, who smashed his writing hand before they killed him
Nasser Said, the head of the Saudi left-wing nationalist party, with whom I had lunched on the sunlit Beirut cornice; in 1979 he was kidnapped by Yasser Arafat’s security forces, handed over to the Saudis and never seen again
Malcolm Kerr, the American academic and author of some of the best books on inter-Arab politics, killed in his office at the AUB in 1983
Leigh Douglas, one of the few fellow British academics who had worked on modern Yemen; he was killed by supporters or agents of Libya as he left a nightclub in April 1986, a few days after the United States bombing of Tripoli (for which Muammar Gaddafi blamed Margaret Thatcher as well as the Americans).
On October 11, 2000, Yossi Avrahami (left), father to three small children, and Vadim Norvich (right), just married four days earlier, were on their way to their yearly army reserve service, when they were unfortunate enough to take a wrong turn and end up in Palestinian police custody. They were taken to the police headquarters in Ramallah.
It wasn’t long before the townspeople learned that there were two Israelis in custody, and a bloodthirsty mob quickly formed outside the police station.
The tragic conclusion was imminent. The mob, led by Palestinian police officers, brutally beat and stabbed to death the two Israelis. The figure on the left is of a Palestinian savage waving his blood-stained hands to the cheering mob below to signal that the deed was done. On the right, we see the lifeless body of one of the Israelis being thrown from the window, where the barbaric mob below proceeded to beat him with their bare hands, sticks, rocks, and even a window frame (click here to see a video of the lynching from the CNN website). Subsequently, he was tied to a car and dragged to the center of the town, where his body was set afire.
Can human beings behave in this way???
I’ll have nightmares for the rest of my life By Mark Seager, Sunday Telegraph MARK SEAGER, 29, a British photographer, was working on a pictorial study of Palestinian refugees when he found himself caught up in the horrific lynching of two Israeli army reservists in Ramallah. The only journalist to witness the beating, as he tried to take the photograph that would have made his fortune, the crowd turned on him with such hatred, destroying his camera, that he feared for his own life.
This is his exclusive, eyewitness account:
“I had arrived in Ramallah at about 10.30 in the morning and was getting into a taxi on the main road to go to Nablus, where there was to be a funeral that I wanted to film, when all of a sudden there came a big crowd of Palestinians shouting and running down the hill from the police station.
I got out of the car to see what was happening and saw that they were dragging something behind them. Within moments they were in front of me and, to my horror, I saw that it was a body, a man they were dragging by the feet. The lower part of his body was on fire and the upper part had been shot at, and the head beaten so badly that it was a pulp, like red jelly.
I thought he was a soldier because I could see the remains of khaki trousers and boots. My God, I thought, they’ve killed this guy. He was dead, he must have been dead, but they were still beating him, madly, kicking his head. They were like animals.
They were just a few feet in front of me and I could see everything. Instinctively, I reached for my camera. I was composing the picture when I was punched in the face by a Palestinian. Another Palestinian pointed right at me shouting “no picture, no picture!”, while another guy hit me in the face and said “give me your film!”.
I tried to get the film out but they were all grabbing me and one guy just pulled the camera off me and smashed it to the floor. I knew I had lost the chance to take the photograph that would have made me famous and I had lost my favourite lens that I’d used all over the world, but I didn’t care. I was scared for my life.
At the same time, the guy that looked like a soldier was being beaten and the crowd was getting angrier and angrier, shouting “Allah akbar” – God is great. They were dragging the dead man around the street like a cat toying with a mouse. It was the most horrible thing that I have ever seen and I have reported from Congo, Kosovo, many bad places. In Kosovo, I saw Serbs beating an Albanian but it wasn’t like this. There was such hatred, such unbelievable hatred and anger distorting their faces.
The worst thing was that I realised the anger that they were directing at me was the same as that which they’d had toward the soldier before dragging him from the police station and killing him. Somehow I escaped and ran and ran not knowing where I was going. I never saw the other guy they killed, the one they threw out of the window.
I thought that I’d got to know the Palestinians well. I’ve made six trips this year and had been going to Ramallah every day for the past 16 days. I thought they were kind, hospitable people. I know they are not all like this and I’m a very forgiving person but I’ll never forget this. It was murder of the most barbaric kind. When I think about it, I see that man’s head, all smashed. I know that I’ll have nightmares for the rest of my life.
That night when I got back to Jerusalem, I found out that I was the only photographer there and people kept asking me if I’d got the picture, then telling me I would have made my name.
I was so shocked that for the first time I didn’t call my girlfriend who is back home in west London, five months pregnant with our first child. Of course, she was really worried because she’d seen on television what had happened and she knew that I was in Ramallah and then I hadn’t called.
She was horrified and, when I did speak to her the next day, she asked: “Did you see?” I just said yes, but I couldn’t really talk about it. Afterwards, I heard even worse details like that the policeman’s wife was phoning his mobile to see if he was all right and them telling her that they were killing him. From what I saw, I can believe that.
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