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John Perkins Confessions Of An Economic Hitman: Strategy Book Review

2004 words - 8 pages

From 1971 to 1980, the author worked as an ‘Economic Hitman’ (EHM) for the consulting firm Chas. T. Main, Inc. (MAIN). His role was “to cheat countries around the globe out of billions of dollars... to encourage world leaders to become part of a vast network that promotes U.S. commercial interests. In the end, those leaders become ensnared in a web of debt that ensures their loyalty” (p17). This was accomplished by the production of economic projections that would persuade the World Bank and other international organisations to lend money to these countries. After this money was spent on developing infrastructure in the countries in question – the contracts for which went to U.S. companies – they were left with large amounts of debts which they could not hope to repay. This in turn left these countries beholden to the United States’ economic and political interests, creating a ‘global empire’ controlled by “corporations, banks and governments” (Preface, p xiii). Perkins refers to this collusion of interests as the ‘corporatocracy’, and it is they who devised and carry out this strategy. The goal is not only to increase economic growth, both for the U.S. and the corporations themselves, but “to perpetuate and continually expand the system” (Preface, p xiii).
This review aims to evaluate and discuss this ‘neo-imperialist’ strategy, both from an extrinsic and intrinsic point of view. It also aims to evaluate the alternative strategies proposed by the author.
It is useful to begin with some discussion of what we mean by strategy. Strategy is concerned with the achievement of goals; the most efficient and beneficial (to those creating the goals) way of achieving these, while attempting to plan for problems and events that may arise in the process. Past experiences and events must be evaluated in order for strategy to be effective. Thus, strategy can be said to be highly dependent on information, and can often improve proportionally with the amount of relevant information gathered. Crucially however, strategy is useless if opponents to one’s strategy have access to exactly the same information. Therefore, those in positions of power and knowledge are often capable of creating the best strategies. Effective strategy must be fluid and malleable, taking into account changes in circumstances as they happen. Importantly, for the purposes of this review, strategy is very often not concerned with ethics. Once the goals have been formulated, there is no room within strategy for evaluating their moral implications, unless it becomes clear that doing so will help attain the goals in question.
The author suggests that U.S. imperialism may have begun with a (albeit questionable) philosophical and religious belief; the concept of “Manifest Destiny - the doctrine, popular with many Americans during the 1840s, that the conquest of North America was divinely ordained; that God, not men, had ordered the destruction of Indians, forests, and buffalo... and the...

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