Economic Hit Man John Perkins speaks

Heard John Perkins speak Tuesday night at The Commonwealth Club in SF. He’s the author of Confessions of an Economic Hit Man and the recent The Secret History of the American Empire: The Truth About Economic Hit Men, Jackals, and How to Change the World.

He say, first they sent the economic hit men like me to corrupt foreign leaders into doing our bidding and if that didn’t work, then they sent in the jackals to depose or kill them. That’s the world Perkins used to live in.

His epiphany came when he realized the US government really does sometimes murder uncooperative heads of state. He decided he had to get out. At first he was threatened then essentially bribed to not write the book, then some years later, wrote it anyway. He says it’s his best insurance policy as it has sold millions of copies and if he should die violently, would sell many millions more.

Nine heads of state in Latin America now directly oppose such imperialism, a welcome trend he says. While he finds Chavez’s personality a bit much and wishes he’d tone down the rhetoric, it was Chavez and his ability to avoid being deposed in the CIA-led coup that inspired other Latin American leaders to run for office too and win. Given that the US could easily now lose easy access to Middle East oil, it can’t come down hard on Chavez or any of them simply because it needs the oil and no longer has the military resources to invade.

Oddly, he is often asked to speak at conventions of CEOs. Many of them, he says, are starting to get it. Exploiting third world resources simply creates unacceptable blowback. Cooperation is a better way. Since he wants solutions in his lifetime, he says capitalism will have to do, but not a greedhead capitalism that puts profits before everything else. Many CEOs now agree, they don’t want to see Florida underwater or the icecaps melting or terrorist bombs exploding either.

So, he says, we need to convince corporations to do the right thing. Rainforest Action Network is a real model here. Working quietly and effectively they have convinced many large corporations to stop exploiting the rainforests. This can be a model for the future. A corporation that makes armaments could also switch over and make equipment to remediate carbon and clean up pollution.

Indeed, a bunch of Greens or Lefties don’t have the economic power or technical chops to create such equipment. But large corporations do. So, as Rainforest Action Network does, the task is to convince them to do the right thing. We no longer have small problems in different parts of the world, but global problems that everyone knows about, like global warming, terrorism, and greedhead capitalism. Yes, he goes way back in the Amazon and they know all about global warming too.

So, Perkins says, the solutions can and will be global, with everyone involved.

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