What Is An Economic Hit Man?
Perkins defines economic hit men as “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 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.”
In Perkins’ case, he was hired as an economist for the international consulting firm of Chas. T. Main, Inc. (MAIN). He was told in confidential meetings with “special consultant” to the company Claudine Martin that he had two primary objectives:
1. He was supposed to justify huge loans for countries. These loans would be for major engineering and construction projects, which were to be carried out by MAIN and other U.S. companies such as Bechtel, Halliburton, Stone & Webster and Brown & Root.
2. He was supposed to help bankrupt the countries that received these loans after the U.S. companies involved had been paid. This would make sure that these countries would remain in debt to their creditors and would then be easy targets when the U.S. needed favors such as military bases, UN votes and access to natural resources like oil.
Perkins’ job was to produce economic growth projections that would make the case for a variety of major projects. If the U.S. decided to lend a country money, Perkins would compare the economic benefits of different projects such as power plants or telecommunications systems. He would then produce reports that showed the economic growth the country would experience due to these projects. These economic growth projections needed to be high enough to justify the loans. Otherwise, the loans would be denied.
The gross national product (GNP) was always the most important factor in these economic projections. The project expected to increase the GNP the most would be chosen. In the cases where there was only one project under consideration, it needed to be shown that the project would greatly benefit the GNP. Luckily for the economic hit man, GNP figures can be quite deceptive. “For instance, the growth of GNP may result even when it profits only one person, such as an individual who owns a utility company, while the majority of the population is burdened with debt.”
All of these projects were meant to make huge profits for the contractors. The U.S. engineering and construction companies involved would be assured of great wealth. At the same time, a few wealthy families and influential leaders in the receiving countries would become very happy and very rich thanks to these loans. The leaders of these countries would also have bolstered political power because they were credited with bringing industrial parks, power plants and airports to their people.
The problem is that these countries simply cannot handle the debt of these loans and their poorest citizens are deprived of health, education and other social services for several decades as these countries struggle economically to overcome their huge debts. Meanwhile, the huge American media conglomerates portray these projects as favors being provided by the United States. American citizens in general have no trouble believing these messages, and in fact are led to perceive that these actions are unselfish acts of international goodwill.
Ultimately, due to the large debts, the U.S. is able to draw on these countries for political, economic and military favors whenever desired. And of course, the U.S. corporations involved with the expensive projects become extremely wealthy.
The U.S. Government’s Role
Economic hit men [EHM] don’t actually work for a United States government organization such as the Central Intelligence Agency. The risk with such a direct association is obvious. For example, if an EHM was working to put a country in debt to the U.S. with the main reason being for favorable military and political positions against the Soviet Union, the Soviet Union would be quite likely to take military action against the U.S. if that EHM were found to be working for the U.S. government. In the 1960s, America found a way to use economic hitmen without directly implicating Washington.
It was during the 1960s that we saw the empowerment of international corporations and multinational organizations such as the World Bank. This allowed for governments, corporations and multinational organizations to form mutually beneficial relationships. United States intelligence agencies were able to use these relationships to their advantage.
Government organizations such as the National Security Agency (NSA) were now able to screen for potential economic hitmen (as they did with Perkins) and then have them hired by international corporations such as MAIN.
“These economic hitmen 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.”
Perkins’ first assignment took him took to Indonesia. Indonesia was an oil-rich country and had been described as “the most heavily populated piece of real estate on the planet.” Perkins’ job was to produce very optimistic economic forecasts for the country, showing that by building new power plants and distribution lines, the country’s economy would explode. These projections would allow USAID and international banks to justify huge loans for the country, which would then be paid to U.S. corporations to build the projects.
In 1971, Indonesia had become even more important to the U.S. in its battle against Communism. Potential withdrawl from Vietnam had the U.S. worried about a domino effect of one country after another falling under Communist rule. Indonesia was viewed as the key. If the U.S. could gain control of Indonesia (with the debts that would incur thanks to the loans for these huge projects), they believed it would help ensure American dominance in Southeast Asia.
While spending three months in Indonesia to conduct interviews and study the economic potential for the country, Perkins was exposed to the drastic discrepancy between the wealthy and the extremely poor in Indonesia. While there were certainly signs of a striving economy with first-class hotels and mansions, Perkins also personally saw the tragic side of Indonesia where women and children bathed in wretched, sewer-filled water and beggars packed the streets. He also met some of the country’s native citizens and learned of their resentment of American greed and extravagance in the face of their starving children.
In 1972, Perkins was sent to Panama to close the deal on MAIN’s master development plan with the country. “This plan would create a justification for World Bank, Inter-American Development Bank, and USAID investment of billions of dollars in the energy, transportation, and agricultural sectors of this tiny and very crucial country. It was, of course, a subterfuge, a means of making Panama forever indebted and thereby returning to its puppet status.”
Again, Perkins experienced the enormous differences between the wealthy and the poor. However, in Panama, the differences were most extreme in one area, the Canal Zone. In the Canal Zone, Americans lived in beautiful homes and enjoyed golf courses and firstclass shopping. Just outside of the Canal Zone, Panamanians lived in wooden shacks and among overflowing sewage. These harsh differences created high levels of animosity between the Americans living in the Canal Zone and the natives of Panama. It was not uncommon to see graffiti messages demanding that the U.S. leave Panama.
In response to the power of the international oil companies, which collaborated to hold down petroleum prices, a group of oil-producing countries formed OPEC in the 1960s. The huge impact OPEC was capable of became evident to the world with the 1973 oil embargo. This embargo was a result of the United States’ support of Israel when Egypt and Syria launched attacks on the country.
As the U.S. provided Israel with more financial aid, Saudi Arabia and other Arab oil producing countries imposed a total embargo on oil shipments to the U.S. While the embargo was short-lived, its impact was huge as Saudi oil prices jumped from $1.39 per barrel on January 1, 1970 to $8.32 on January 1, 1974.
As a result, Wall Street and Washington became obsessed with protecting American oil supplies and the U.S. was forced to recognize Saudi Arabia’s importance to its economy. “For Saudi Arabia, the additional oil income resulting from the price hikes was a mixed blessing.” Suddenly, the country’s conservative religious beliefs were being replaced with a sense of materialism.
Washington recognized this movement and negotiated with Saudi Arabia for assurance that there would never again be an oil embargo from the country. The result of these negotiations was the United States-Saudi Arabian Joint Economic Commission, known as JECOR. The unprecedented agreement was the opposite of the norm, where countries had to borrow from the U.S. until it could never get out of that debt. Instead, this agreement relied on Saudi Arabia’s own money to hire American firms to build up the country.
The U.S. wanted Saudi Arabia to guarantee to maintain oil supplies at prices that would be acceptable to the U.S. and its allies. Due to Saudi Arabia’s vast petroleum supplies, this guarantee would protect the U.S. even if other countries threatened oil embargos.
In exchange for the guarantee, the U.S. offered the House of Saud a commitment to provide complete political and military support (this would guarantee that the royal family would continue to rule in Saudi Arabia). The condition would be that the Saudis buy U.S. government securities with their petrodollars and that the interest earned on these securities would be used to pay U.S. companies to convert Saudi Arabia into a modern industrial power.
Perkins was brought in as an adviser in the early stages of these negotiations. His job was “to develop forecasts of what might happen in Saudi Arabia if vast amounts of money were invested in its infrastructure, and to map out scenarios for spending that money.” He was told that not only would this job result in huge profits for MAIN, but that it was also a matter of national security.
This job was different for Perkins as the final objective was not to burden Saudi Arabia with debts it could never repay, but instead to “assure that a large portion of petrodollars found their way back to the United States.” Basically, MAIN and other U.S. corporations needed to convince Saudi Arabia of the importance and benefits of transforming their country to a more modern nation. This would ultimately make Saudi Arabia more dependent on U.S. corporations and make U.S. corporations extremely wealthy.
For his part, Perkins convinced a key player within the House of Saud, a man he calls Prince W., that these projects would benefit his country as well as him personally. Perkins was able to eventually persuade Prince W. by arranging for a beautiful prostitute to live with him. By arranging for the prostitute to live with Prince W., Perkins was able to gain his trust and eventually convinced him of the value of the deal. The entire package was finally approved by the royal family of Saudi Arabia and MAIN was rewarded with one of the first highly lucrative contracts, which was actually administered by the U.S. Department of the Treasury.
“The deal between the United States and Saudi Arabia transformed the kingdom practically overnight.” It also marked the beginning of an ongoing relationship between the House of Saud, the bin Laden family and the Bush family, which benefited greatly from a financial standpoint thanks to the deal.
What to Do Now
Perkins now spends his life trying to educate people about the role of the economic hit man and how we can end their practices and achieve more global peace and prosperity by transforming our institutions. He believes “we have convinced ourselves that all economic growth benefits humankind, and that the greater the growth, the more widespread the benefits.” We must realize that the American capitalism we are trying to push on other countries may not be what’s best for the rest of the world.
We can’t just blame this movement on a conspiracy. “The empire depends on the efficacy of big banks, corporations, and governments – the corporatocracy – but it is not a conspiracy. This corporatocracy is ourselves – we make it happen – which, of course, is why most of us find it difficult to stand up and oppose it. We cannot bring ourselves to bite the hand of the master who feeds us.”
Perkins offers several ways to help stop “the corporatocracy and to end this insane and self-destructive march to global empire.”
• Read between the lines of each and every media report and help others do the same. The majority of our media outlets – newspapers, magazines, publishing houses, television stations, radio stations, etc. – are owned by huge international corporations and these corporations aren’t afraid to manipulate the news they deliver. Always seek the truth and encourage others to do the same.
• Cut back on oil consumption and shopping. When you are shopping, be very aware of the products you buy and the companies you’re supporting.
• Downsize your personal possessions, including your home, your car and your office.
• Protest against unfair free trade agreements.
• Protest against companies that exploit desperate people in sweatshops.
• Protest against companies that pillage the environment.
• Look for ways to educate others about what is going on in the world. This can be done by writing letters and emails to friends, newspapers, school boards and local organizations.
• And finally, ask yourself the following questions:
Why have I allowed myself to be sucked into a system that I know is unbalanced?
What will I do to help our children, and all children everywhere, to fulfill the dream
of our Founding Fathers, the dream of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?
What course will I take to end starvation, and make sure there is never again a day
like September 11th?
How can I help our children understand that people who live gluttonous, unbalanced
lives should be pitied but never, ever emulated, even if those people present
themselves, through the media they control, as cultural icons and try to
convince us that penthouses and yachts bring happiness?
What changes will I commit to making in my attitudes and perceptions?
What forums will I use to teach others and to learn more on my own?
These are the essential questions of our time.