How the U.S. Uses Globalization to Cheat Poor Countries Out of Trillions
November 9, 2004 12:13 PM   Subscribe

Conscience of an Economic Hit Man Amy Goodman of Democracy Now interviews John Perkins, a former international banker on how globalization is leveraged to cheat poor countries.
We've built the largest empire in the history of the world. It's been done over the last 50 years since World War II with very little military might, actually. It's only in rare instances like Iraq where the military comes in as a last resort. This empire, unlike any other in the history of the world, has been built primarily through economic manipulation, through cheating, through fraud, through seducing people into our way of life, through the economic hit men. I was very much a part of that.
posted by ao4047 (17 comments total)
i want to know more about the sexual bribery he mentions, over and over...
posted by subpixel at 12:27 PM on November 9, 2004

i want to know more about the sexual bribery he mentions, over and over...

Reference Neil Bush for more on that particular subject.
posted by nofundy at 12:34 PM on November 9, 2004

Reference Neil Bush for more on that particular subject.
posted by bk at 12:55 PM on November 9, 2004

fascinating. i never knew much about how foreign aid to other countries works; it seems that it is really a massive form of pork barrel spending. you have a guy like cheney leaving politics to go work with halliburton, and then go back to government; guys like schultz and weinberger leaving bechtel to be with reagan in his administration; it's eye-opening.
posted by moz at 1:14 PM on November 9, 2004

You know, one positive I took from Bush's coup no. 2 is that the 6,000 pages of literature exposing this administration can now be caught up on AND be relevant.

This book is now on top, though.
posted by Busithoth at 1:14 PM on November 9, 2004

Not to detract from the man's argument, but the British also built their empire economically.
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 1:16 PM on November 9, 2004

Good point, Pseudoephedrine, but from the perspective of the countries that are trying to delveop themselves, look at what Britain did when industrializing... The greatest argument against these economic "reforms" foisted upon these third world countries I've heard has been this-- every country that industrializaed and built up its economic infrastructure engaged in the following: protectionist policies toward favored domestic industries, state ownership or control of certain "necessary" pieces of infrastructure, and wholesale theft of foreign intellectual property for domestic use. This is as true for the USA and Great Britain in the 1700s and 1800s as it was for South Korea and Japan after WWII.

When the big, brilliant economic advisors come to undeveloped or formerly communist countries and give them advice about how to rebuild their economies, what do they tell them to do, in exchange for all of these "aid" loans? Open up their borders to free trade, privitize all national industries, and keep rigorous watch over the proper use of intellectual property from abroad. Now, surely they got those ideas from somewhere, and they're supposed to make sense, but no other developing country ever used that as a successful strategy, so why should developing countries start now?

I don't really think that this is being advocated as some sort of means of spreading the "America Empire," except in so far as, certainly, foreign countries that respect America's patents and copyright laws are better for American companies than not. However, I do think that these sorts of policy-makers, mentioned before on Metafilter, got taken up by an economic cult that they called "globalization" because the name made it sound like something that was as inevitable as a Marxist revolution seemed 50 years ago.
posted by deanc at 1:22 PM on November 9, 2004

deanc> Well, sort of. Britain was quite quick at times to allow free trade with other countries when it got them goods they had trouble producing domestically. But yes, I agree that the policies we attempt to force down the third world's throat are generally oriented towards benefitting ourselves rather than them.

Personally, I'm not anti-globalisation per se. I think free trade between developed and developing countries would benefit the third world - with its rich resources and cheap labour, developing countries could quickly dominate many of the commodity markets. But, it's wholly unfair of us to insist that they allow us to freely export goods to them, while we slap protectionist tariffs on their goods.
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 1:34 PM on November 9, 2004

Reading the interview, I'm reminded of how Jonathan Kwitny, in his book Endless Enemies, likened the World Bank and the IMF to loan sharks, complete with strongarm enforcement. Torrijos' demise sounds typical in that regard.
posted by alumshubby at 2:46 PM on November 9, 2004

Not to be snarky, but the guy seems more than a bit strange. Check out his web site - it includes other books he's written, including

"Be your own shaman" An experiential guide to changing yourself and your world. Shamanism made simple. Retrieve power, energy and wisdom from 'parallel realities' and

"Psychonavigation," With first hand accounts of how diverse tribal cultures travel beyond time and space by means of visions and dream wanderings.
posted by jasper411 at 4:06 PM on November 9, 2004

Not to be snarky, part deux: Sounds like this guy and the Mormon Peanut-butter assassin meet for drinks now and then.
posted by elwoodwiles at 4:24 PM on November 9, 2004

I heard this guy on Air America radio yesterday morning and found it fascinating. The interview transcript linked above is pretty much the same ground but on Air America he went a little deeper into the sex part. Apparently, his trainer in Boston was a woman who was "very good at what she did". Liz Winstead asked more about the sex as bribery thing and he said it was all in the book.

I was going to look into getting the book until I saw his website from jasper411 post.
posted by birdherder at 4:58 PM on November 9, 2004

This guy comes off as just a little too bad to be true, sort of a left-wing version of the classic "former satanist turned evangelist" genre.
posted by Mars Saxman at 6:20 PM on November 9, 2004

Amazon Reviews.
posted by weston at 10:16 PM on November 9, 2004

Regardless of whether you question this man's credentials, one thing is not questionable, that the US is and has been engaged in Imperialism. That, to me, is very wrong.
posted by nofundy at 4:46 AM on November 10, 2004

Amazon Reviews.

First one when I looked was

*****Why Empire Poker?, November 10, 2004
Reviewer: $25 Bonus At EmpirePoker.Com - Use Bonus Code "BOOKSTORE" -
     See all my reviews
Nearly 50,000 play online poker daily on Empire Poker at any given time, and there are many good reasons why! etc...

There's a serendipitous poetic experience.
posted by y2karl at 9:15 AM on November 10, 2004

Different author, different book, similar story... Related review.
posted by talos at 9:45 AM on November 10, 2004

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