by Carmen Nge
In 2005, a silver-haired, retired American businessman resisted bribes, braved threats to his life, and hid away from the public eye, in order to write a book. The book was an instant bestseller and for months remained on Top Ten non-fiction books lists around the world, selling half a million copies since November 2004.
The term EHM or “economic hit man” entered common parlance and some readers of the book exclaimed that its contents were too unbelievable not to be true. EHMs were economics consultants and business professionals hired by American corporations to infiltrate countries that posed significant strategic interests for the United States. Over the last three to four decades, the American ruling elite, made up of corporate bigwigs and politicians, used EHMs to execute a masterplan of economic world domination.
The title of the book is Confessions of an Economic Hit Man and its author, John Perkins, became almost instantly infamous for his expose. Now, more than two years later, Perkins has written a second book, The Secret History of the American Empire. Hot off the presses, his latest effort incorporates more confessions from other EHMs like himself and reveals more secret deals of the American government in cahoots with multinational corporations. True to form, The Secret History is already a bestseller.
When Perkins’ first book came out, Off the Edge had the pleasure of a lengthy telephone interview with the author. This time around, due to his hectic book tour in North America and travels in Latin America, we were only able to dialogue with Perkins via email. Below is the full, unexpurgated interview.
OTE: Can you tell us why you decided to write a follow-up to your first book?
John: I wrote it primarily for 3 reasons:1. to include stories from other EHM and jackals who contacted me after “Confessions” was published2. to bring things up to date — what is going on around the world up through the beginning of 20073. to provide a detailed plan for what we all can do to make it a better world.
OTE: One of the areas covered in Secret History of the American Empire is Asia and the economic collapse in the late 90s. Can you tell us a little bit more about what you have discovered about this area of the world?
John: The book goes into depth about the Asian Economic Crisis — also known as the IMF Crisis. Indeed the collapse was perpetuated by US-IMF policies.
OTE: Malaysia is now in the process of negotiating its free trade agreement (FTA) with the US. What is your view of FTAs? Do you think they are another way for the US to gain control over the economies of developing nations such as Malaysia?
John: No question that FTAs are vehicles for expanding the American Empire — a bad thing for just about everyone in the world, except the corporatocracy.
OTE: You have been critical of the US’s imperial ambitions, the IMF and the World Bank. Yet so many developing nations rely on the World Bank for economic support. What options are there if we were to reject the policies of the World Bank and reject the monetary support of the IMF?
John: As I discuss in detail in Secret History of the American Empire, the Latin Americans are showing us a new way, [they are] planning to develop their own regional bank — as well as media networks. Countries around the world that are under the US yoke must band together, form alliances, refuse to pay their debts, and create their own financial institutions.
OTE: What is your view of Hugo Chavez and the nationalization of petroleum in Venezuela? Do you think he will likely be assassinated like Salvador Allende, Omar Turrijos and Jaimé Roldós?
John: The US is very afraid that we will lose Middle Eastern oil as a result of the Iraq debacle; so Washington is very dependent on Venezuelan and other Latin American oil. Coups and assassinations are always a possibility but I think the US knows it must tread softly in Latin America right now.
OTE: As an American, how do you feel about the anti-American sentiment spreading across Latin America and the rest of the world, particularly in Muslim countries like Iran and Indonesia? Can this sentiment be a force of change or do you think it will only fuel American military aggression further?
John: As a US citizen I take it as a strong message. Part of my commitment is to write and speak out in the U.S. about these things and to encourage my people to take them very seriously. If we want our children to inherit a safe, sustainable and peaceful world, we must listen and we must change. Now is the time for us to act responsibly!
OTE: Apart from Saudi Arabia, it seems as if Middle Eastern nations are more resistant to American economic pressure and political influence. What is your view? Do you think US has succeeded in making significant political/economic inroads into the Middle East?
John: I think we are on the verge of losing influence in the Middle East. When we leave Iraq, the rest of the region may well desert us. Israel is in a very tenuous position. We must develop a new approach, one that strives to address and solve the real problems of all the people in that region. Are we capable of doing this? I will work very hard toward that end.
OTE: What hopes do you have for the upcoming American elections? Do you think a Democratic win can reverse the global problems caused by the Bush administration?
John: A Democratic win can set the stage to reverse the problems but we must go way beyond partisan politics. “Secret History” is devoted to presenting a plan for changing things, for truly creating a better world. It is not about Democrats versus republicans. It is about changing the very system created by EHM since WWII. As you will see in the book, I am extremely optimistic that we can — and will — do so.
This interview was first published in Off The Edge July 2007 issue.