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The Secret History of American Empire: The Truth About Economic Hit Men, Jackals, and How to Change the World by John Perkins

October 9, 2009 by  

American democracy paints a pretty portrait of the United States as a peace-loving, democracy-spreading, benevolent benefactor to freedom-loving nations and people around the globe.

But what goes on in the shadows is quite different. It’s actually an ever-growing leviathan that employs bribery, coercion, extortion and even, at times, assassination as billion dollar corporations and people acting under authority of the U.S. government—the corporatocracy—work to spread U.S. empire.

In The Secret History of American Empire, author John Perkins continues what he started when he first came out of the shadows with his book, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, in 2004. In that book he introduced us to the nefarious world of corporatocracy—a cadre of multinational corporations, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), government diplomats and agents from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)—with his own stories of working as an economic hit man (EHM) to enrich himself and the entities he represented at the expense of other countries.

In The Secret History…, Perkins tells some more of his own stories and introduces us to other, unnamed EHMs and jackals who have shared their stories with him.

EHMs, according to Perkins, are people representing large corporations and U.S. government interests who go to other—usually developing—nations to exploit the natural resources of those countries. To do this they find the power players and leaders who control the wealth and natural resources and make them financial offers they can’t refuse, typically using the resources of the World Bank or IMF.

If they do refuse, the jackals show up. They are people who use threats of violence and intimidation to win over the leaders. Failing that, jackals even resort to assassination.

In his prologue, Perkins writes this description of what he and other EHMs have done:

(The World Bank’s) mission soon became synonymous with proving that the capitalist system was superior to that of the Soviet Union. To further this role, its employees cultivated cozy relationships with capitalism’s main proponents, multinational corporations. This opened the door for me and other EHMs to mount a multitrillion-dollar scam. We channeled funds from the Bank and its sister organizations into schemes that appeared to serve the poor while primarily benefitting a few wealthy people. Under the most common of these, we would identify a developing country that possessed resources our corporations coveted (such as oil), and arrange a huge loan for that country, and then direct most of the money to our own engineering and construction companies—and a few collaborators in the developing country. Infrastructure projects, such as power plants, airports, and industrial parks, sprang up; however they seldom helped the poor, who were not connected to electrical grids, never used airports, and lacked the skills required for employment in industrial parks. At some point we EHMs returned to the indebted country and demanded our pound of flesh: cheap oil, votes on critical United Nations issues, or troops to support ours someplace in the world, like Iraq.

The book is divided into the major spheres of influence, as Perkins sees them, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and Africa. In them he relates actual stories of intrigue, bribery, sex and violence that have been involved in growing American empire.

He uses names and events right out of today’s headlines that bring the stories close to home and cause the reader to think: “Yeah. I can see how that happened now.”

For instance, during the late 1950s and early 1960s in Iraq, EHM efforts failed to persuade that country’s president, Abdul Karim Qasim, to continue working with the U.S. When he began demanding that foreign oil companies share their Iraqi oil profits with his people and began threatening to nationalize them if they didn’t, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) sent in an assassination team. One of the team’s members was a young Saddam Hussein.

The team opened fire, riddling Qasim’s car with bullets but only wounding him. Hussein was shot in the leg and fled to Syria.

In 1963 President John F. Kennedy ordered the CIA to join Great Britian’s intelligence agency M16 on a mission to finish the job started by the assassins. Qasim was executed by firing squad. A few years later Hussein was installed as head of state security and his second cousin was installed as president.

Later, when he was president, Hussein was visited by EHMs who wanted him to accept a deal to be Washington’s bulwark against Iran. Washington supported Saddam’s war on Iran by building chemical plants, jets, tanks and missiles. The Saudis and Kuwaitis were encouraged by EHMs to loan him $50 billion.

Although more than a million people died in the war and both nations were left economically devastated, corporatocracy had won again. Military suppliers and contractors profited handsomely.

When Hussein refused to continue dealing with EHMs, jackals were sent to solve the problem. But Hussein was wise to the ways of the jackals, having been one himself, and the jackals failed.

So President George H.W. Bush sent in the U.S. military.

After the first Gulf War, first EHMs and then jackals were sent in. Again the jackals failed, and so the second President Bush sent in the military, which succeeded in locating Hussein and then having him executed.

There are other examples in the book of intimidation and assassinations that have shaped global events, and much of the book reads like it comes right out of a fiction “thriller.” But the stories, Perkins insists, are real.

Late in his EMH days, Perkins began to realize the things he had done to benefit corporatocracy had devastated the poor people and environment many countries, and he began to look for ways to make amends.

His books have been cathartic for him. But he has also begun to work for non-profit “green” and anti-capitalistic organizations. And he believes he’s come up with some solutions to the problems of growing corporatocracy and devastation of the planet.

Whether Perkins’ solutions are the best ones for America and the world are subject to debate. But one thing is certain; Perkins’ stories of American empire are fascinating.


Bob Livingston

is an ultra-conservative American and author of The Bob Livingston Letter™, founded in 1969. Bob has devoted much of his life to research and the quest for truth on a variety of subjects. Bob specializes in health issues such as nutritional supplements and alternatives to drugs, as well as issues of privacy (both personal and financial), asset protection and the preservation of freedom.

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  • M R. Davies

    I think the above is so outrageously simplistic as to be nonsense. There may be some underlying elements of truth. But to suggest that America put in place Sadam etc. and that the Bushes were underhand is to implicate Thatcher and others. She was worried at one point that Bush would “wobble” (in her words)when he needed to be decisive. It is sad to me that many Americans seem not be be able to accept the straight forward explanations. They seem so open to the rediculou, such as the moon landings never took place and the U.S. government is hiding information on alien beings etc.
    As some one who has lived and served in the Middle East I can’t help but be amazed at the naivety. If they were so astute where oil was concerned why were they kicked out of Sudia Arabia (Ameco) and why OPEC. Oil is the price that the Arabs dictate, not the US. It is so cheap to produce and the price is so outrageously high that the wealth of the world is going to the Middle East. Consider Kuwait! At the time of the invasion her investments abroad were stated to higher in value than her oil sales. The Arabs have been investing abroad in places such as the U.S. and in the giant oil companies, where once America was supreme. America is not dictating the terms in spite of her might.
    Yours sadly
    Mike Davies

    • Anthony

      Mr. Davies -
      You obviously haven’t dared yourself to google up the information presented in the dialogue of this Article. Otherwise, you would not have made such a comment.

      1. We are, in effect, discussing the wishes of the Central Bank. The Article does discuss how a specific location on the Planet had resources coveted by the Money Cartel… and what actions were taken to assure that THEY would be who ended up with the PROFITS involved with marketing that resource. It is something that has gone on in Mercantil-ism for Centuries. Whether you like to accept this fact, or not … is not relevant.
      2. The Bushes got into the Oil Business with the funding of the Bin Laden Family – this is well documented, all over the place. Again, had you googled Middle East and Bush Family, your face most likely would have exhibited a ‘kodak-moment’ for all to see. What’s more Bush-1′s daddy, Prescott Bush was a Member of The Federal Reserve, which should give you pause to stop your disbelief almost immediately.
      3. It was well considered that the plan to invade IRAQ was one of the first items laid on Bush-2′s desk the minute he was elected – and that too was a media manipulated moment. You do realize the Left/Right Paradigm is false, correct?

      I have committed a lot of man-hours of research to everything that’s been discussed in this Article … and I tell you, you do have a right to be SAD… but it is NOT for the beliefs you currently hold.

      I agree, the discussion about whether we actually landed on the moon, or not… is a bit far-fetched. But, the real truth about Saudi Arabia.. is that they’ve been a permanent part of the U.S. State Department since World War II.

      Let’s see you prove the creation of OPEC was a totally Muslim Idea…. and not some plot with the Money Cartel to assure that Gas Prices and the price of oil/barrel didn’t stay inflated, when it would have been in the BEST INTERESTS of the Muslim Countries to “flood” the world with oil causing a HUGE PRICE DECREASE which would adversely affect Standard Oil(Rockefeller) and many other Large Corporations who thought they had achieved dominate countrol of the entire planet…. Do you understand the nature of global economics?

      Remember this – ALL central banks report to the World Bank and the IMF – both of which are family-controlled by the Rothschilds(who are worth almost $3-trillion alone),

      Also – there are only 4 Countries left on the entire Planet who do not have a Central Bank… Sudan, Lybia, IRAN and (right now I can’t remember, but prior to 9/11 it was thought that IRAQ did npt have a Central Bank, either)

      The number one reason for any antogonistic attitudes toward ANY Cuontry, as far as the Banks are concerned, is because the Central World Bank has no direct control over that Country and its resources. What’s more, IRAN is also a central controlling authority of the Middle East Gulf area and certainly in the way of the Money Cartel’s intention of grabbing ALL of Afghanistan’s resources, mineral or otherwise (drugs included) and as a part of that action, they are currently building a pipeline from the region down to the Gulf alongside IRAN… and IRAN is preparing to not only protect themselves, but protect the region (as America would do if Canada were affected by IRAN on a similar note)… There is no logical reasoning for the U.S. or any other Country to be invading the Middle East, other than to strip the resources for their own greed.

      Again – do you understand global economics under the curtain of a Central Bank? Do you know what a Fractional Banking System is? Do you know what the term: FIAT (means)..?

      I suggest you start googling, sir!

      Here – start here: www-joemarquis-com (replace the dashes with dots)
      Click on the video login, at the left and create a password
      The rest is self explanatory…if you have the time, of course, to review what’s there.


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