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Excerpts, Chapter 34
“INSERTS” are mine, Sandra Finley. And I added emphasis on some text.
PART V: 2004 – TODAY
P. 215: . . . The facts were obvious. I and others like me had created an EHM (Economic Hit Man) system that supported the corporatocracy. Together, the EHMs, corporate magnates, Wall Street robber barons, governments and jackals, and all their networks around the world have created a global economy that fails everyone. It is based on war or the threat of war, debt, an extreme form of materialism that pillages the earth’s resources and is consuming itself into extinction. In the end, even the very rich will fall victim to this death economy.
Most of us have bought into it in a big way; we are collaborators – – often unconscious ones. Now it is time to change. I had hoped that exposing these facts (Perkins’ original book, 2004), making people conscious, would inspire a movement that, by 2016, would have resulted in a new vision, a new story.
People were in fact shaken awake. Activities in so many parts of the world, including localized ones such as . . . (many examples we know)
What I had not anticipated was the flexibility in the EHM system or its absolute determination to defend and promote the death economy. I had not anticipated the rise of an entirely new class of EHMs and jackals.
INSERT: similar to what happened after the “change” movements of the 1960s and 1970s – – with the difference that there has been little analysis and awareness of how that movement was brought to heel. The National Guard shot and killed four students at Ohio State University during the protests, the U.S. was forced out of Vietnam, they lost the war, but it did not stop them. There is a straight line to today. And the wars have never stopped. They have all been lost by the U.S. and its allies. They continue. From that you can figure out that they are not actually about war. They are about the creation of fear. And money. And ignorance.
P. 217: While I was an EHM, the goals of most conspiracies were to further U.S. and corporate interests in the economically developing countries – – to do whatever it took, including overthrowing or killing government leaders, to enable our companies to exploit resources. . . .
INSERT: In March 2005 Perkins suffered – plausible – severe poisoning on the day before he was scheduled to speak at the United Nations. He offers another plausible explanation that is also more helpful to his state-of-mind, later, in Chapter 36, Ecuador Rebels, p. 226. I had taken on a mind-set of paranoia and guilt, I needed to change it. As he lounged during recovery from the colon operation, reading reports . . .
It became obvious that the tools I had used in Indonesia, Panama, Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and other countries were now being applied in Europe and the United States. Fortified by the so-called threat of global terrorism after 9/11, these conspiracies have given excessive power to the very wealthy individuals who control global corporations. Among the most striking are conspiracies to implement ”free” trade agreements such as NAFTA and CAFTA, and the more recent Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP),
Cont. P. 218: which empower corporations to assume de facto sovereignty over governments in countries around the world; to convince politicians to pass laws that permit the rich to avoid paying taxes, to control the media, and to use media to influence politics; and to terrify US citizens into fighting endless wars.
INSERT 1: important, from elsewhere in Perkins’ writing: “I was initially recruited while I was in business school back in the late sixties by the National Security Agency (NSA), the nation’s largest and least understood spy organization; but ultimately I worked for private corporations.
INSERT 2: re the word “conspiracy”: Perkins does not believe there is a “grand conspiracy”. “There is no secret club of individuals who get together to plot illegal, world-dominating strategies.” He adds,
“However, I do know that part of the power of the EHM system is that it foments many small conspiracies. By “small”, I mean that they are focused on specific objectives. Such conspiracies – – secret actions to accomplish illegal goals – – happened when I was just beginning school, such as the CIA coup that replaced the democratically elected Iranian prime minister, Mossadegh, with the shah . . (more examples)
Cont. P. 218, Perkins: These and many other conspiracies took the EHM system far beyond where it had been in the 1970s. Despite all that I had written, I had to admit that I’d missed much of what had been going on beneath the surface. The old tools had been sharpened and new ones invented. The heart of this system remained the same: an economic and political ideology based on enslavement through debt and enforced by paralyzing people with fear. In my day, it had convinced the majority of Americans and much of the rest of the world that all actions were justified if they protected us from Communist subversives; the fear had now switched to Muslim terrorists, immigrants, and anyone threatening to rein in corporations. The dogma was similar but the impact was now much greater.
INSERT: Perkins makes the point elsewhere in his writings that he has never met a terrorist who wanted to be a terrorist. I, Sandra, understand it thus: they are desperate people whose land, homes, community, family, health and government are being, or have been for a long time, destroyed by resource exploitation, pollution, and war imposed by outsiders.
I asked myself why I had stayed in that job for ten long years. And then I realized how difficult it had been to escape. It wasn’t just the seduction of money, flying first class, staying in the best hotels, and all the other perks. Nor was it the pressure exerted by my bosses and fellow employees at MAIN. It was also the aura of the job, my title – – the very story of my culture. I was doing what I’d been schooled to do, what I’d been told was the right thing to do. I was educated as an American whose job it was to sell America and to believe and convince everyone else that Communist regimes were out to destroy us. . . .
P. 219: That photograph got me thinking about those most formative years in my life. After the Soviet Union launched Sputnik, the first satellite, we all became convinced that nuclear warheads were on the way. The chilling scream of sirens sent us scampering under our desks in weekly drills, to hide from imagined Soviet missiles. . . . Red provocateurs, like the evil Bolshevik in the poster, lurked among us, ready to pounce.
By the time I entered the EHM ranks, it had become apparent that we were losing in Vietnam, a nation portrayed as a Sino-Soviet puppet. We were told that there would be a “domino effect” – – that Indonesia would go next, then Thailand, South Korea, the Philippines and on and on. It wouldn’t be long before the Red tide would sweep Europe and then engulf the United States. Democracy and capitalism were doomed – – unless we halt the onslaught. And that meant doing whatever it took to promote companies such as Scott, which portrayed themselves as bulwarks against communism.
Delving into my feelings of guilt helped me see the ease with which I had deceived myself in those years. It opened my mind to understanding that millions of people are in positions similar to mine. They are no longer taught to fear communism, but they still fear Russia, China, and North Korea, in addition to al-Qaeda and other terrorists. They may not travel to foreign lands and confront, face-to-face, the consequences of what their companies do. They may not personally stand beside oil spills in the Amazon or see the hovels where sweatshop workers sleep. Instead, they anesthetize themselves with TV. They succumb to assurances by their schools, banks, human relations experts, and government officials that they are contributing to progress. But in their hearts they know otherwise. Deep down, they – – we – – realize that the stories misrepresent. And now it is time to admit our complicity.
INSERT: Perkins tells of conversation with Howard Zinn.
P. 220: When I shared with him the guilt that so often threatened to overwhelm me, he urged me to keep opening to it.
“Don’t be afraid of it,” he said. “You are guilty. We’re all guilty. We have to admit that although the big corporations own the propaganda machine, we allow ourselves to be duped. You can set an example. Show people that the way out, redemption, comes from changing it.”
I told him that I often thought of middle-class Americans as being like the medieval bourgeoisie – – the majority of the people, who lived in the bourgs outside the castle walls. “We pay our taxes so soldiers and jackals will defend us from the knights in the neighboring castles.”
“Exactly,” he said, . . . “We will do anything to maintain a system that has failed us.”
I came to understand . . . that my most important lesson since the publication of Confessions of an Economic Hit Man was similar to the one I had learned as a Peace Corps volunteer working with Andean brick layers: the only reason the EHM system works is because the rest of us give it permission to work. At best, we look the other way; at worst we actively support it. One of the things that most bothered me was having to admit to myself that I not only had looked the other way but also had convinced many people to actively support that system. I made a commitment to myself that I’d be more diligent; I’d watch more closely what was going on in my own community, my country, and the world.
INSERT: Present day Ecuador. Rafael Correa, “a very different type of politician”, had emerged. Reminds Perkins of a former client, Jaime Roldos, who became President of Ecuador in 1979. From P. 152 “Roldos struck me as a man who walked the path blazed by Torrijos. (President of Panama, also a “client” of Perkins.) “Both stood up to the world’s strongest superpower. . . . Like Torrijos, Roldos was not a Communist but instead stood for the right of his country to determine its own destiny. And as they had with Torrijos, pundits predicted that big business and Washington would never tolerate Roldos as president – – that if elected he would meet a fate similar to that of Guatemala’s Arbenz or Chile’s Allende.
It seemed to me that the two men together might spearhead a new movement in Latin American politics and that this movement might form the foundation of changes that could affect every nation on the planet. These men were not Castros or Gadhafis. They were not associated with Russia or China or, as in Allende’s case, the international Socialist movement. They were popular, intelligent, charismatic leaders who were pragmatic rather than dogmatic. They were nationalistic but not anti-American. If corporatocracy was built by three sectorss – – major corporations, international banks, and colluding governments – – Roldos and Torrijos held out the possibility of removing the element off government collusion.
INSERT: Less than two years after his inauguration as president of Ecuador, Roldos “died in a fiery airplane crash.” Omar Torrijos (president, Panama) later “dropped from the sky in a gigantic fireball”. Both men assassinated in 1981. Roldos at the end of May, Torrijos less than three months later, with almost no reporting in the U.S.
Now, here was Correa, a candidate who openly invoked the memory of Jaime Roldos. . . . Correa said that he has been approached by EHMs and was very aware of the threat posed by jackals. . . .
In 1968, Texaco had only just discovered petroleum in Ecuador’s Amazon. Today, oil accounts for roughly half of the country’s export earnings. A trans-Andean pipeline, built shortly after my first visit, has since leaked more than half a million barrels of oil into the fragile rain forest – more than twice the amount spilled by the Exon Valdez. A $1.3 billion, three-hundred-mile pipeline constructed by an EHM-organized consortium had promised to make Ecuador one of the world’s top ten suppliers of oil to the United \States. Vast areas of rain forest had fallen, macaws and jaguars had all but vanished, three Ecuadorian indigenous cultures had been driven to the verge of collapse, and pristine rivers had been transformed into flaming cesspools.
INSERT: There was a fight back by indigenous nations. 2003 – American lawyers filed a lawsuit representing more than 30,000 Ecuadorians, …
P. 231 . . . a $1 billion lawsuit against Chevron Texaco asserting “that between 1971 and 1992 the oil giant dumped into open holes and rivers more than four million gallons per day of toxic wastewater contaminated with oil, heavy metals, and carcinogens, and that the company left behind nearly 350 uncovered waste pits that continue to kill both people and animals.” . . .
(A cement wall in the jungle) … This is the Agoyan hydroelectric project, which fuels the industries that make a handful of Ecuadorian families wealthy.
… Because of the way such projects were financed, by the time Correa decided to run for president, Ecuador was devoting a large share of its national budget to paying off its debts. The International Monetary Fund had assured Ecuador that the only way to end this cycle was by selling the vast sea of petroleum beneath its rain forests to the oil companies.
. . . Correa won with nearly 60% of the vote. . . . took office in 2007
. . . Correa refused to pay many of Ecuador’s debts, proclaiming that they had been signed by CIA-sponsored military dictators who had been bribed by EHMs (a fact I (i.e. Perkins) knew only too well was true). He closed the United States’ largest military base in Latin America, withdrew support for the CIA’s war on rebels in neighboring Columbia, ordered Ecuador’s central bank to divert to domestic funds that had been invested in the U.S., oversaw the rewriting of the constitution to make his country the first in the world to codify the inalienable rights of nature (a threat to the bottom lines of big business), and joined ALBA, an alternative to Washington’s plan to increase US hegemony through its Free Trade Area of the Americas.
But the most courageous of Correa’s actions was his renegotiation of oil contracts. He insisted that the companies could no longer base Ecuador’s share of oil revenues on “profits” – – an
P. 232: all-too-common arrangement between big oil and economically developing countries, which historically has cheated these countries through creative accounting. Instead, the oil would belong to Ecuador, and the companies could only collect a fee for each barrel they produced.
The EHMs were dispatched. They offered the president and his cronies bribes – – both legal and illegal – – if he’d just back off. He refused.
Then, Honduran president Manuel Zelaya fell to a jackal coup.
That coup had a huge impact on all of Latin America – and especially on President Correa.
INSERT: You will have to read the story of Zelaya in Honduras yourself! The role of the “School of the Americas” (School of the Assassins”) is discussed. And the misrepresentations of what happened, as written in mainstream American media.
“No matter how many toys we amass we leave them behind when we die, just as we leave a broken environment, an economy that only benefits the richest, and a legacy of . . .