Sunday, November 6, 2011

Confessions of an Economic Hitman, by John Perkins

Another one that I've wrapped up recently. I was actually reading this for a project I'm doing. I was expecting it to be a bit more cloak and dagger than it actually is. Basically, Perkins is trying to atone for a career in which by slanting economic data in certain directions, he and the people he worked with were able to convince the right people in various nations of the world that they should throw in there lot with U.S. and corporate interests. Then general effect of these projects seems to have been to build a lot of infrastructure in these countries which the countries in the end couldn't pay for, making them coercible and more amenable to our, and I use that word with a bit of hesitation, agenda.

Perkins met more than a few of the major players during his time in the game, and his talks with people who went against this agenda are valuable in and of themselves. He had a conversation with the popular General Torrijos before he died in a plane crash, as well as a chance encounter with Graham Greene, who was a friend of Torrijos.

I thought Perkins put his thesis together in a readable and accessible way, though I found myself wanting to read a critique of his book, as I'm a bit out of my depth judging it myself. Nevertheless, it does give you a lens to view the world, and some things that I didn't really understand before at least fit into place in this picture.

A couple of things that have struck me since because of this book. First, I was listening to something about Iraq as the U.S. 'wraps things up there' and they were saying something about access to Iraqi oil. Now of  course I've long heard about this idea that we went into Iraq only for the oil, but after reading Perkins book, I suddenly saw something inexorable about this process, and that an eight or nine year war costing thousands of lives and incredible expense is really just a hiccup in this process of attaining access to that oil. I don't even attribute to a U.S. policy or any nation's agenda so much as to a kind of mindless machine, or as Perkins calls it, the "corporatocracy".

I also just happened to watch the beginning of Reilly: Ace of Spies last night and it turned out that Reilly's first mission in Baku, which was part of Russia at the time, but was before and since a major city of Azerbaijan, was really to collect information on oil.

That was 1901.

Perkins just happens to be coming to town at the end of this week, and I'm going to do my best to hear what he has to say about present developments.

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