Economic Hit Man
From Ethical Politics
Economic hit man is a term first popularized in the 2004 book, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man. It is generally regarded as a euphemism for economic operatives employed in the private sector, who act as agents for advancing or enriching the interests of corporations and governments.
Economic hit men are contemporary instruments of empire and imperial control, who work within a system that includes transnational banks and corporations, government intelligence agencies, and military forces (the corporatocracy). This system was originally developed by the United States but is now in practice by most of the developed world (what Hardt and Negri call the culture of “Empire”), although the US has been the most successful at these practices to date.
Author John Perkins describes his work in the 70s, and early 80s as Chief Economist for the international consulting firm of Chas T. Main. While still in business school, Perkins was recruited by the National Security Agency (NSA), the United States' largest and most secretive intelligence gathering organization. While he never actually worked for the NSA, or became a government employee, Perkins believes that his subsequent recruitment by Chas T. Main was a direct result of the evaluation made regarding his character, talent, and abilities by the NSA.
“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.”
EHMs provide favors in the form of development loans to build infrastructure projects like power plants, highways, ports, airports, or industrial parks. A condition of these loans would be that American engineering and construction and equipment supply firms would exclusively build these projects.
“In essence, most of the money never leaves the United States; it is simply transferred from banking offices in Washington to engineering offices in New York, Houston or San Francisco… Despite the fact that the money is returned almost immediately to corporations who are members of the corporatocracy (the creditor), the recipient country is required to pay it all back, principle plus interest. If an EHM is completely successful, the loans are so large that the debtor is forced to default on its payments after a few years… This often includes one or more of the following: control over United Nations votes, the installation of military bases, or access to precious resources such as oil or the Panama Canal."
Origins of the term economic hit man
In a November 2004 interview with Amy Goodman on DemocracyNOW!, Perkins explained that the first real economic hit man was Kermit Roosevelt, Jr., the grandson of former US President Theodore Roosevelt, who, in 1953, overthrew the democratically elected government of Iranian head of state Mohammed Mossadegh, and replaced him with a totalitarian government led by Reza Pahlavi, otherwise known as the Shah of Iran. Kermit Roosevelt, Jr. was so successful at doing this without any military intervention, (instead, simply by spending millions of dollars to foment a domestic overthrow) that forces in the CIA realized they had stumbled upon a good model.
“At that point, we understood that this idea of economic hit man was an extremely good one. We didn’t have to worry about the threat of war with Russia when we did it this way. The problem with that was that Roosevelt was a C.I.A. agent. He was a government employee. Had he been caught, we would have been in a lot of trouble. It would have been very embarrassing. So, at that point, the decision was made to use organizations like the C.I.A. and the N.S.A. to recruit potential economic hit men like me and then send us to work for private consulting companies, engineering firms, construction companies, so that if we were caught, there would be no connection with the government.”
Contemporary economic hit men
Despite reports of their demise, EHMs are not only still active but proliferating. These days specialized EHMs work at the behest of corporate conglomerates like Monsanto, McDonalds, and Nike. Their job is to strike deals that benefit their specific corporations.
Bolivian President Evo Morales and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez both report being approached by EHMs, and in the end, were the victims of failed coups by EHMs and their more sinister replacements, jackals.
In a 2005 radio address, Chavez referred to Confessions of an Economic Hit Man by name, saying that economic hit men approached him at one point. He said he was offered funds from the IMF if he agreed to surveillance flights and the presence of US advisers. Even though he refused their offers, he said, these economic hit men did not give up and tried to exert pressure through weak government officials, legislators and even military officers around him, eventually leading to the failed coup of 2002.
- Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, John Perkins, 2004, Berrett-Koehler Publishers
- The Secret History of American Empire, John Perkins, 2007, Dutton Adult
- Confessions of an Economic Hit Man: How the U.S. Uses Globalization to Cheat Poor Countries Out of Trillions - an interview with Amy Goodman, DemocracyNOW!, November 09, 2004
- Radio Nacional de Venezuela, Caracas, in Spanish 15:24GMT, April 10, 2005