Economic Hit Men

We economic hit men have managed to create the world’s first truly global empire, and we’ve done it through economics, not through the military … therefore it’s been done quite secretly so that most Americans aren’t aware that it’s gone on.

John Perkins on Open Source

[Scheduled for Aired Tuesday 21 February 2006.]

Click to Listen to the Show (24 MB MP3)

Debtor beware [robotson / Flickr]

John Perkins says he was trained to call himself an “economic hit man” — an EHM — and he thrived in the role for about a decade until his conscience got the better of him.

What does an EHM do for a living? He builds the American empire the way a dope dealer builds a network of dependency. The drugs an EHM sells are aid agency loans to developing countries — loans that bind the country to hiring American companies to build the highways or design the power plants. Most of the real benefits therefore stick with American contractors and corportions. The loans, by design, are also too big to repay on time so that the country effectively becomes a pawn the U.S. can use for military or political or economic convenience. And one more thing: these loans enrich a tiny minority in the debtor country (usually including a corrupt head of government) and impoverish the masses by increasing the national debt. Perkins says he’s witnessed this cycle over and over again. He was part of what drives it.

There’s lots more to this, but it’s for Perkins to tell. As Chris says, he’s sort of the Matt Damon character in the movie Syriana — albeit less naive — and his story is explosive and addictive. But do we buy it? Among the many things we’ve been wondering: Do EHMs really exist? Who’s telling them what to do? What exactly are their links to Washington? Is it really possible to make a World Bank (or other) loan conditional on hiring American companies to do the development work? Who within the WB et al. knows this is going on? Are countries that have received large development loans really worse off than they were before?

Does John Perkins’s argument ring true to you? What would you like to ask him? And who should mix it up with Perkins on the air?

(Thank you to cheesechowmain, Nikos, and A little yellow bird for suggesting Confessions of an Economic Hit Man.)

John Perkins

Author, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man.

James Boyce

Professor of economics at UMass Amherst.

Directs the Program on Development, Peacebuilding & the Environment at the Political Economy Research Institute at UMass Amherst.

Lived in and wrote about development in India, Bangladesh, El Salvador, and the Philippines.

Ross Levine

Professor of economics at Brown University.

Worked at the World Bank for seven years.

Co-author, Rethinking Bank Regulation: Till Angels Govern.

Sebastian Mallaby

Columnist, the Washington Post.

Author, The World’s Banker: A Story of Failed States, Financial Crises, and the Wealth and Poverty of Nations.

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  • tbrucia

    Asking if EHM’s exist is a bit like asking if the NSA exists. I don’t think I’d like to ask John Perkins anything — I understand what he is, and so does he.

  • Nikos

    tbrucia: nice. Brilliant, even.

  • So let me get this straight, an EHM will goes to a the World Bank, for example, and convinces them that a country can afford a Dam (or other infrastructure) that they cannot. The World Bank, who gets the majority of its funding from the US but all of it from the G8 (really G7 since Russia is to poor to provide any), then funds the project. Then, when the govt receiving the loan defaults, as Argentina just did on a record amount of foreign debt, or we (the G8(-1) who provided the funds in the first place) forgive loans to developing countries, as we have and are in the process of doing now, the govt and people who got the Dams etc get this for free.

    So, what’s the problem? We (the US) just, in effect, paid a US contractor to build a Dam (or other important infrastructure) in a country that couldn’t otherwise afford it and ended up not paying much for it. Why isn’t this considered Foreign Aid?

  • It sounds to me like if it weren’t for EHM there would be many Dams, Water Supplies, roads or electrical systems in many parts of the world.

  • “not be many”

  • I have heard John Perkins twice on Democracy Now and he sings a song of conspiracy that rings a loud note of truth, even if the “I’ve grown a conscience” line gets downed out by the book tour refrain and his own sense of self-importance. If only that new found conscience came with a serving of humility. That said, his is an intriguing story. The two sides of the U.S. imperial coin are military and economic might and both no doubt need their clandestine agents. It’s the old stick and carrot routine. The brute force of a CIA trained death squad must go hand-in-hand with EHM and IMF back-pocketed politicians, bankers, accountants, arms dealers and the like.

    I rubbed up against a slightly different, but equally corrupt, aid-granting system in Japan. Here the big trade and consulting companies would join up with local companies in developing countries and they would come up with some expensive development project idea, such as building a dam. After economic feasibility studies were carried out (environmental and social cost benefit studies were usually omitted or brushed over) the proposal was passed to their aquaintances in the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), which would authorize the aid funding. Of course most of the money would flow to the Japanese and local companies (and friendly politicians) and not much trickled down to the local residents.

    I would be interested to know what Mr. Perkins knows about EHM or similar types from other countries. Also, why is it we have not heard much about EHM though we have heard a lot about other CIA agents and operatives? How many EHM are there in his estimate? Finally, why did it take him 30 years to fess up to his deeds? Was it because he was nearing retirement age and wanted to bring in extra money from his book and speaking tour? (Sorry if this sounds over critical, but “what’s bread in the bone…” as the novelist Robertson Davies writes).

  • gets drowned out

  • Nikos

    Winston Dodson: not that you’re wrong or anything, but — if I buy something on, say, a credit card, and then a year and a half later the interest rate shoots from, oh, 9% to 27%, driving me to bankruptcy — and my creditors say “Oh, yeah, we didn’t tell you that our business model relies on usury after 18 months…”

    Who’s the victim?

    The credit card company, right?

    Just checking.

  • cheesechowmain

    Some of this is echo’d above, but I’ll go ahead anyway as I formulated them earlier in the day:

    Can Mr. Perkins speak to the coordinated and compartmentalized processes between EHM and Jackals (his terms, not mine)? Furthermore, do EHM coordinate their activities with covert propaganda teams (e.g. The Rendon Group or other perception managment teams)?

    Do other countries employ EHM either here in the U.S. or abroad? Has he ever personally encountered EHM and/or Jackal(s) from a foreign government, cartel, company, other entity? If so, does Mr. Perkins care to mention any by name and what sorts of methods they employ? Given the current U.S. debt being carried by other countries, could Mr. Perkins conjecture whether there are foreign EHM coercing U.S. policy or positioning themselves to do so at some future time of maximum leverage? Would a foreign EHM have access to the U.S. Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve or Federal Reserve staff? Could a foreign EHM coerce trade agreements with U.S. policy maker or multinational corporations? Could a foreign EHM coerce technology transfers? How would a EHM representing a foreign entity call in its marker? Would the general public in the U.S. be in a position to notice?

    Are there any tangible reform efforts taking place within the U.S. institutions that employ EHM methods? Is his current efforts being hampered or hamstrung by any organization or EHM? Why did Mr. Perkins wander off the reservation and write about his experience?

  • Hold on Nikos, you haven’t quite got it correct. It is not you who did the purchasing. Your good-for-nothing cousin or uncle by marriage twice removed takes your credit card and those of your brothers and sisters and then goes and buys a fleet of Mercedes, when there aren’t even enough roads to drive them on or petrol stations in your town to fill their tanks. Not only that, you don’t even get to ride in the passenger seat, let alone drive one of them. Then the credit man comes along and says you must pay back an ever increasing intrest-driven debt for something you never wanted or he won’t provide spare parts.

    Luckily though, that uncle, cousin or both are now in jail for their corrupt deeds (though the EHM who sold them the goods is roaming free and enjoying the talk-show circuit replaying stories about all the fools he stung) so you tell the collector to take a hike and that you’d reather ride a bike.

    And Mr. Dodson is dead wrong because the public in countries where all that excess capital found a soft home were never asked if they wanted most of the projects they got and which often didn’t benefit them, much in the same way that the American public didn’t ask for their tax dollars to be looted by the Halliburtons in Iraq and elsewhere.

  • But the thing that all of your comments disregard is the bottom line fact that in all of these casses people are getting the BENEFIT of something they never fully pay for.

    In Nikos’ comment above, the point that you leave out in your credit card analogy is that I wouldn’t get to keep the item that I had just purchased. Also, that case of declaring bankruptcy, I harm my future abitity to get mroe credit – I don’t see Argentinas recent “bankruptcy” hurting thier abilities to get more loans!

    So, in all of these cases, the “victum” benefits right?

    So, if you were just checking, I’ll submit that peope should use a better analysis rather than one that just feeds one own need to point to a “bad guy”.

    And I ask, what is wrong about this story? I am sure that Rwanda will have to use international fianancing to get this project accomplsihed yet somene will calissify those involved in it as EHM. And I am 100% positive that Rwanda will never pay back the full value of the loan, no matter what happens. So I ask, why isn’t this classified as Foreign Aid?

    Rwanda fired up by methane plans

  • And sidetalker’s argument that depends on stereotypical and unrealistic straw man arguments is typical ranting from someone who prefers not to argue facts but likes to feel good about something they already believe.

    Less than 10% of Halliburton’s annual revenue is from public projects and in all of those projects the average profitability is less than those that are not publicly funded – including all work in Iraq. What this says is that Halliburton makes less money on govt contracts than on private ones.

    I just got that from reading the docs that it has to file yearly to the SEC. There is much info that is availalbe.

    There is much more “truth� in the world than many people’s beliefs allow them to go and find.

  • In reading the question above from the producers that says “And who should mix it up with Perkins on the air?” and after reading the comments section I suggest caution in who his on-air counter-part is.

    Because, if as was the case with Gary Hart, who was completely skewered by both Perle (from the right) and Beinart (from the center left), Perkins provides the same result against his counter-part, it will not be as good a show as you might hope. Maybe someone who is also center-left like Jeffery Sachs who won’t really challenge Perkins premises but will try and shift them to something constructive.

    Alarm bells went off for me when in the comments section, it looks like the fiercest counter arguments that have ever been leveled at Perkins was on Democracynow – if Perkins gets to far out of this bubble and gets hammered, it won’t make for a good show.

  • cheesechowmain

    “If all the economists were laid end to end, they’d never reach a conclusion.”

    — George Bernard Shaw

  • cheesechowmain

    BTW, my GB Shaw quote seemed quasi appropriate (at least to me), since we’re talking about economic policy matters. It’s been my experience they lead to inherently inconclusive battles of expertise which usually boil down to data wars, actuary wars, poll numbers, strength of personality, cultural leverage, ambigious appeals to the public good, etc. In considering the EHM issue, I’m reminded of the free-rider problem and the attacks on the problem. Should it be grappled with from the bottom-up or from a top-down perspective? There are built-in assumptions at work in all economic discourse; correctly so, otherwise we’d find them bereft of ontological import. I’d recommend E. F. Schumacher’s “Small Is Beautiful : Economics as if People Mattered” as a complementary, though somewhat dated, addition to thinking about EHM.

    As to bankruptcy protection and remedies, I’ve bumped into several anecdotal data points (I’ve never gone through this process myself) that credit customers who obtain bankruptcy protection do not always have to return the items they’ve purchased. This is somewhat determined by the item, its condition on the product lifecycle, and the write-off procedures of the creditor. Durable goods tend to be reconfiscated more often than non-durable goods, but not always. Automobiles for example are not repossessed under some bankruptcy adjudication since this allows the defaulter an effective means with which to convey themself to work and begin the process of putting their financial health on the road-to-recovery. On the other end, ephemeral or intanglibe goods such as software products, though potentially high priced, are often written-off, but not always. It seems plausible that different states and creditors have different policy regulations for these matters. It’s not a one-size fits all world out there.

    In regards to larger entities, such as a national sovereign, I’m not sure how you would go about confiscating roads, dams, weapon systems, industrial manufacturing centers, etc when that entity goes belly-up. It would seem scale matters when considering recompense.

    Finally, regarding credit history for a country, I would think that creditors make some sort of risk assessment about their potential customer. If a country seems positioned to do constructive activities with a financial infusion, shouldn’t a creditor take this into account when weighing historical behavior? There are inherent benefits in bringing a country’s infrastructure up to contemporary technological standards; overly simplistically, new markets are created and opened. This clearly does not always pan out, and that’s the nature of risk management. Furthermore, a risk portfolio that doesn’t demand tangible, acheivable, verifiable milestones of credit customers is a portforlio that is either being managed incompetently or is up to something of a disingenuous nature. There doesn’t seem to me to be much wriggle room; we’re talking money here, and people really sweat about how to manage it for maximum ROI. So I’m hedging on these matters that there is a combination of incompetence, mismanagment, ill-intentions, and rotten luck (acts-of-god, shifts in political winds, etc) in the mix.

    My espresso buzz is waning, I grow weary …

  • cheesechowmain

    Roops, one last item of interest. The cost of debt ownership seems extremely complex and problematic. It would appear, superficially at least, that creditors and insurers are not the line of last defense. I’d like to know more about which entities and what practices play a role in absorbing the costs for loan default on this scale.

  • cheesechoowmain is correct in regards to the complexity of the subject of “who owns risk”. For people who issue debt, it is resold and resold again so that we all share the risk. That is one of the reasons why debt is so “cheap and easy” now, if no one individual owns the risk then its easier to give it.

    And the same thing goes for insurance becuase reinsurance is where all the risk really goes. And, this may not be appropriate but I will say it anyway in case it gets somene involved, but I know that one of the producers of Opensource once was employed by one of the world’s biggest reinsurers and if they see this comment and wish to get invovled they could teach us all something here.

  • Gizmo Logix

    Does John Perkins’s argument ring true to you? What would you like to ask him? And who should mix it up with Perkins on the air?

    Invite Jeffery Sachs.

  • Gizmo Logix

    Or, invite Milton Friedman.

    Their reply: “Yeah, and?

  • Mr. Dodson, you seem to like to stick to the “facts”, but only the ones that support your values and antiquated Anglo-centric bias. Anyone can paste in a wikipedia link to support their truth claims, but can you open your heart to the clear suffering of people at the hands of your regime? It is quite simple, really, do you believe in social justice for the many or physical and economic might for the few? Come clean, or do you prefer to walk vainly in the shadow of the EHM?

    If you want facts, here are some that you should study and refute if you must to keep your world-view intact.

  • Unless I am mistaken, Iraqis are not “anglo” and they don’t seem to agree with the links that you presented. P.S. I can send you links / info to polls done by BBC and UN if you wish.

    In ABC News poll in Iraq, conducted with Time magazine and other media partners, includes some remarkable results: Despite the daily violence there, most living conditions are rated positively, seven in 10 Iraqis say their own lives are going well, and nearly two-thirds expect things to improve in the year ahead.

    Surprisingly, given the insurgents’ attacks on Iraqi civilians, more than six in 10 Iraqis feel very safe in their own neighborhoods, up sharply from just 40 percent in a poll in June 2004. And 61 percent say local security is good — up from 49 percent in the first ABC News poll in Iraq in February 2004.

  • Speaking of only selecting facts that fit your “world-view” I noticed that none of your links included and info on the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis tortured, raped and murdered before the war.

    And, I don’t have to “come clean” with what I beleive because I lived it for part of my life. For 10 years I was a US Marine and lived and worked with people around the word who personally told me that they appreaciated my effrots towards their “social justice”. I think that the health, properity and freedom that me, and people like me brought to places like Western Europe, Korea, Japan and now Iraq speaks more than all of the ravings of silly moonbats.

    And I still have many friends who are / or were in Iraq and assure me that that same gratitude is shared by many Iraqis there.

  • And sidewalker, your sleezy method of slipping in a racist statement like “antiquated anglo-centric bias” is insulting. But not to me – to you, because it is a great indicator of your severe intellectual limitations.

    Good luck with that “world-view” of yours.

  • Nikos

    A quick head’s-up to Winston:

    Although I disagree with what I take to be the foundational premises of your positions, I’m glad you’ve climbed aboard. Knowing I’m talking to you too will force me to frame and detail my points carefully and convincingly. As it will for everyone else too. So thanks. See you tomorrow.

  • Thanks, and I am sorry if I have ever caused any discomfort to anyone even sidewalker.

    So, good night to you as well, Nikos

  • It is interesting how one can often find what they seek in the results of a survey.

    If I look at the numbers for questions Q4 in the survey Mr. Dodson mentions (see link below) we find that 52.5% of Iraqis say that that things are going quite bad or very bad in their country these days and only 44.4% say quite good or very good, with very bad at 30% and very good at 14%. OK, let’s then report in Dobsonian fashion that a majority of Iraqis feel that things are going badly.

    As for Q5 on whether things are better, the same or worse than before the occupation, we find that only 45.9% say yes, whereas 50.3% say the same or worse. Painting a picture with polling numbers is indeed fun, isn’t it.

    For Q6, 50.3% of Iraqis say it was wrong for the US to invade and 46.2 said it was correct. Again, a MAJORITY was against the invasion. Are you getting the picture Mr. Dobson?

    26% of Iraqis say reconstruction efforts have been effective and just under 39% say they have be ineffective.

    Interestingly, 85.2% of those polled said you have to be very careful in dealing with people. I wonder if that goes for the pollsters, who went around to Iraqi homes for interviews.

    Though this is said to be a random and reflective sample, one would need to see the results based on different ethnic, tribal and religious affiliations to better judge the mood of the Iraqi people.

    If they truly feel life is improving, that is wonderful news, but as the survey shows, only 6.3% feel the Americans have contributed to the post-war reconstruction of Iraq and 58.6% of the people say the US and it’s minnow partners have badly carried out their responsibilities.

    This is the real crux of the issue, wouldn’t you agree Mr. Dobson? Does the aggressive, self-centred domestic and foreign policy of the U.S. regime make the world a more secure and better place to live for non-Americans or a worse place? The people of Iraq answered quite clearly. Are you listening?

  • Thank you for the personal name-calling and degradation Mr. Dobson. You have come clean.

    I apologize to the moderator and other readers that this has gotten personal. That was never my intention as I have tried to keep my comments at the level of critique and not insult.

  • Gizmo Logix

    >>>Maybe someone who is also center-left like Jeffery Sachs who won’t really challenge Perkins premises but will try and shift them to something constructive.

    Alarm bells went off for me when in the comments section, it looks like the fiercest counter arguments that have ever been leveled at Perkins was on Democracynow – if Perkins gets to far out of this bubble and gets hammered, it won’t make for a good show.>>>

    The reason that I suggested Jeffery Sachs wasn’t because he would just try to shift the discussion to something “constructive.” It was because it would allow someone — Chicago Boy Economist — with international economic back-ground to give that side of the story. Sort of a validation of what’s going on in other parts of the world — economically — and the problems he’s faced. And he’s faced many — IMF unwilling to fund projects. Corruption? Ask Jeff.

    I also wouldn’t mind hearing the shifting that Sachs would have to do in order to “not name names.” I’m sure he knows the goings on in dealing with the IMF/WB. But I doubt he’d use the term: IHM. But he’s not naïve about it. I just don’t think he’d come clean about *all* he knows regarding this issue. I’d look for that in his voice/tone. This would be interesting how he’d react to some of Perkin’s accounts.

    Also, you said you were a US Marine. Did we go into Iraq for “social justice?” Really? Maybe you did. But not the powers that be. Their goals were much broader — some of that includes that oh so obscure term called “US interest.”

    >>>Halliburton makes less money on govt contracts than on private ones.>>>

    If they could make more they would. But nation building didn’t work out like they thought it would. Bombs going off kinda spoils that “profit” thing.

    By the way, if the Marines left. Would Halliburton stay? Nah…

  • Gizmo Logix

    >>>Winston Dodson Says: Maybe someone who is also center-left like Jeffery Sachs who won’t really challenge Perkins premises but will try and shift them to something constructive.

    Winston Dodson Says: Alarm bells went off for me when in the comments section, it looks like the fiercest counter arguments that have ever been leveled at Perkins was on Democracynow – if Perkins gets to far out of this bubble and gets hammered, it won’t make for a good show.>>>

    >>> Winston Dodson Says: Halliburton makes less money on govt contracts than on private ones.>>>

    Note, in my post above. There were three paragraph/quotes came from Winston Dodson. I forgot to mark them.

  • If you want to see a talk given by John Perkins at an independent bookstore in Washington DC, see the link below.

  • sidetalker – your post using the term “antiquated Anglo-centric bias.” is either a racist attack on me personally or a pseudo-intellectual post modernist attempt at a feeble analysis, or both. In an attempt to get the discussion back on track I will accept the 2nd option, especially since in a latter post you brought up another line of argument that seems to be more rational.

  • And yes, I think that it is a great idea to listen to Perkins talk in an atmosphere where is is unchallenged and “preaching to the choir”.

    Like Cheney talking to convention of Neo-Cons.

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  • Gizmo Logix regarding your comment “Also, you said you were a US Marine. Did we go into Iraq for “social justice?â€? Really? Maybe you did. But not the powers that be. Their goals were much broader — some of that includes that oh so obscure term called “US interest.â€?

    Here are excerpts from Bush’s 2002 speech to UN, prior to the war: (Gizmo, he spoke for 50 mins and 35 of those were on the subject of bringing human rights and democracy to Iraq. The meme / urban legend / talking point that the stated desire to bring democracy and human rights to Iraq was only after the failure to find WMDs is simply false. If you’d like, I can search and find dozens more speeches by Bush, Cheney, Powell, Runsfeld, Rice and Wolfewitz all before the war, re: the same subject)

    “If the Iraqi regime wishes peace, it will cease persecution of its civilian population, including Shi’a, Sunnis, Kurds, Turkomans, and others, again as required by Security Council resolutions.�

    “If the Iraqi regime wishes peace, it will immediately end all illicit trade outside the oil-for-food program. It will accept U.N. administration of funds from that program, to ensure that the money is used fairly and promptly for the benefit of the Iraqi people.�

    “If all these steps are taken, it will signal a new openness and accountability in Iraq. And it could open the prospect of the United Nations helping to build a government that represents all Iraqis — a government based on respect for human rights, economic liberty, and internationally supervised elections.

    The United States has no quarrel with the Iraqi people; they’ve suffered too long in silent captivity. Liberty for the Iraqi people is a great moral cause, and a great strategic goal. The people of Iraq deserve it; the security of all nations requires it. Free societies do not intimidate through cruelty and conquest, and open societies do not threaten the world with mass murder. The United States supports political and economic liberty in a unified Iraq.�

    “Events can turn in one of two ways: If we fail to act in the face of danger, the people of Iraq will continue to live in brutal submission.�

    “If we meet our responsibilities, if we overcome this danger, we can arrive at a very different future. The people of Iraq can shake off their captivity. They can one day join a democratic Afghanistan and a democratic Palestine, inspiring reforms throughout the Muslim world. These nations can show by their example that honest government, and respect for women, and the great Islamic tradition of learning can triumph in the Middle East and beyond. And we will show that the promise of the United Nations can be fulfilled in our time.�

    “Our common security is challenged by regional conflicts — ethnic and religious strife that is ancient, but not inevitable. In the Middle East, there can be no peace for either side without freedom for both sides. America stands committed to an independent and democratic Palestine, living side by side with Israel in peace and security. Like all other people, Palestinians deserve a government that serves their interests and listens to their voices. My nation will continue to encourage all parties to step up to their responsibilities as we seek a just and comprehensive settlement to the conflict.�

    � In 1991, Security Council Resolution 688 demanded that the Iraqi regime cease at once the repression of its own people, including the systematic repression of minorities — which the Council said, threatened international peace and security in the region. This demand goes ignored.

    Last year, the U.N. Commission on Human Rights found that Iraq continues to commit extremely grave violations of human rights, and that the regime’s repression is all pervasive. Tens of thousands of political opponents and ordinary citizens have been subjected to arbitrary arrest and imprisonment, summary execution, and torture by beating and burning, electric shock, starvation, mutilation, and rape. Wives are tortured in front of their husbands, children in the presence of their parents — and all of these horrors concealed from the world by the apparatus of a totalitarian state.

    In 1991, the U.N. Security Council, through Resolutions 686 and 687, demanded that Iraq return all prisoners from Kuwait and other lands. Iraq’s regime agreed. It broke its promise. Last year the Secretary General’s high-level coordinator for this issue reported that Kuwait, Saudi, Indian, Syrian, Lebanese, Iranian, Egyptian, Bahraini, and Omani nationals remain unaccounted for — more than 600 people. One American pilot is among them.�

    “He blames the suffering of Iraq’s people on the United Nations, even as he uses his oil wealth to build lavish palaces for himself, and to buy arms for his country. By refusing to comply with his own agreements, he bears full guilt for the hunger and misery of innocent Iraqi citizens.�

  • Gizmo Logix – regarding Haliburton and your comments. I will take it then taht we are over the entire meme / talking points about Haliburton being a “war profiteering campany”. By the way, I didn’t say that they were not making money of govt contracts in Iraq, just not as much as other non-public contracts.

    But, isn’t it amazing how a few facts get the argument past such non-value add ideas. I would suggest that many who do not feel the way that I do specifically about the war, could come to agreement with me about the problems with big corps like Haliburton. And you are right of course, if they could finf other ways to make money they wold and do, as their SEC reports suggest

    Then your comments “By the way, if the Marines left. Would Halliburton stay? Nah… ” seem to suggest that the only reason Haliburton is in Iraq is because of the US military. I agree, I also agree that reason why Saddam is not there, that there were elections etc is because the US military is there.

    And I will, take your comments as a “thank you” and send in return a hardy “your welcome” even though I am not sure that they were intentional, since by the same analogy, you wouldn’t be here making comments on this site without the US military.

    It seems that you and Haliburton have more in common that you wish to discuss.

  • sidealker – thank you very much for hte link to the BBC poll of the Iraqi people. I will very munc enjyo looking at the deails.

    But before I do so I should nake a few comments:

    After reading the reponses to the first 2 questions it seems like this will indeed be a lesson for me in trying to to work very hard to make the poll say what you want it to say. And, the next time I hear Amanpour of CNN editorialize that the “War is a disaster” I will know how much work it took for her to find the facts to back-up that opinion.

    Question # 1 was something about “Your overal life”

    Very Good ~ 22%, Quite Good – ~ 49% for a total of ~ 71% saying “good”

    Questoin # 2 was soemthing about life before and after the war:

    Much Better – ~ 21%, Somewhat better ~ 31% and Same ~ 19%. So ~ 52% say better and if you include same ~ 71%.

    Not bad for a country that was just occupied.

    As I said, I will take you analysis of the reaminig results seriously and look at hte reamining resutls and learn something.

  • Nikos

    Let’s get down and dirty: down to basics. Don’t worry, it’ll be fun and fast: this post is long but not dense.

    The dynamic in this thread is much the same as in the country’s politics…

    …NO! not ‘left’ vs. ‘right’.

    Not left-brain / right-brain either.

    It’s between foundational premises – two incompatible assumptions of what human societies are at their cores.

    1. One premise is that human society is the arena in which individuals struggle with one another for their share of the world’s natural and cultural resources.

    The successful become rich. The unsuccessful remain poor or, alternatively, squander their inheritances.

    It’s YOUR responsibility to sink or swim.

    The only ‘charity’ worth offering to anyone is ‘a level playing field’ for the struggle for resources.

    This model has been popular since ‘time immemorial’ its proponents claim. (We’ll examine this belief shortly.)

    This model was so dominant in the mid-19th century that it colored (incorrectly) the novel concept of evolution by natural selection. The new converts to Darwin’s evolutionary theory comprehended it through the lens of Industrial Revolution Europe’s simmering class-warfare (the domination of one class over the rest).

    This became the paradigm now called Social Darwinism. (Which makes it hilariously ironic that the conservatives who so fervently believe in the paradigm are often so deathly allergic to anything else with the word Darwin in it! Luckily, ignorance isn’t a crime but only a condition – and a treatable one at that.)

    Social Darwinism is the conceptual framework that mischaracterizes the evolutionary dynamic as ‘survival of the fittest’. (Mischaracterized because applying that label to the theory is not unlike trying to understand the entire solar system by studying Jupiter alone! Jupiter is damn big, but it’s not nearly as important as the Sun – just as sexual selection is to evolution. i.e., Did we evolve language to better hunt and dominate? – Or because artful speech is sexy? More and more evolutionary biologists now point to the latter!)

    Anyway, ‘survival of the fittest’ describes the 19th century Industrial-Revolution-organization-of-society-by-class far better than it does the theory it’s associated with, because the dominant class recognized its ‘validity’ not ‘scientifically’ but via their own grips on the world. Critics will say otherwise: that the dominant class ‘justified’ their grip on the lower classes by pointing to the seeming ‘natural order’ of the ‘vicious struggle for life’ Darwinism was believed to describe. (This is arguable though, since any such ‘justification’ could only follow the thinkers’ comprehensions. And they’d have comprehended the novel theory through the lens of their concepts as shaped by their pre-exiting world-view.)

    Finally, and most importantly: the astounding paradox that Social Darwinism is the theoretical ally of American Puritanism – which preaches that life is a test for admission to heaven, and that God will choose only ‘those who help themselves’.

    Through this alliance-of-convenience, Social Darwinian dogma has attained sanctification from religious leaders – leaders who, not coincidentally, vie with other faiths for congregationists and the money such churchgoers bring.

    Any pastor or preacher clever enough to absolve the rich from the taint of selfishness by pointing out that they ‘earned it fairly and don’t owe it to any of those teeming poor’ will find his pews full of the wealthy – wealthy eager to believe that this miraculously forgiving preacher has God’s ear. (Wealthy dropping lots of dollars into those collection plates, too.)

    And that this preacher’s God will forgive the inarguable anti-Christianity of selfishness and hoarding! This is contemporary American Puritanism.

    This is also the paradoxical, anti-Christianity lampooned by the bumper-stickers: ‘Who Would Jesus Bomb?’

    This odd-couple marriage-of-convenience between the Social Darwinists and modern Puritans of anti-Christianity provides not only the self-absolution necessary for exploitation of others, but a tactic for it too: Blame The Victim.

    The most obvious example of this is the time-worn phrase: “Why don’t ‘those people’ just get a job?�

    Which wholly ignores capitalism’s dirty-little secret: the built-in and government subsidized labor-surplus. Surplus labor, whether subsisting on unemployment, welfare, or private charity, is the leverage that keeps wages suppressed and corporate salaries stratospheric. (An aside: your taxes subsidize capitalism’s surplus labor – keeping your wages low and the oligarchs’ high! Fun, huh?)

    Surplus labor obviates bidding wars between companies for workers.

    Surplus labor and the social shame attached to welfare is Blame The Victim.

    Blame The Victim ‘the tactic’ becomes the STRATEGY of the international EHM- system – if it actually exists as Perkins claims.

    At the very least, Blame The Victim makes the existence of the EHM conceivable to those of us who find model no.1 abhorrent.

    Which brings us to:

    2. The other premise, which seeks the ABOLITION of victimization. Whose advocates feel (even though its proponents barely comprehend it articulately) that any decent human society’s FIRST responsibility is not ‘offering a level playing field for Social-Darwinian struggle for resources’ but SHARING the resources.

    Didn’t Jesus say this? (For the record, I’m no Christian.)

    But you needn’t be Christian to believe the premise.

    Because unlike premise no.1, it’s biological, not cultural.



    Bononos, our species’ closest living genetic relatives (since the recent extinction of Neanderthals), live like the few Homo-sapiens hunter-gatherers still extant in the world today: in societies with little evident hierarchy, and in which every resource is shared.

    Not in Social Darwinian ‘arenas’ for individuated struggle.

    Never mind that this flies in the face of accepted cultural dogma: that dogma took a proto-scientific theory and not only translated it by its own set of hierarchical concepts – tainting the theory for decades at least – but used the resultant miscreant to spawn dozens of offspring sub-theories of ‘natural’ ‘dominance’ and speciesist ‘dominion’ over the world.

    It’s all a big fallacy, folks.

    Yeah, sure, if you point to every rare instance of conflict within species or between species to bolster your ‘conflict and hierarchy is normal’ dogma, you’ll seem persuasive.

    But violence is rare in hunter-gatherer societies just as it is among bononos (virtually non-existent). Hierarchies are insignificant in nature and among hunter-gatherers because the concept of private property is another cultural invention – dating from the advent of agriculture, and the resultant development of kings and priests: the cycle that has led ultimately to the marriage of Social Darwinism with Puritanism.

    Which makes model no.1 and all its attendant dogma OPTIONAL, not ‘natural’ or even ‘necessary’.

    Hell, it’s only ‘necessary’ to those who live high on the hog off the sweat of others – and spend fortunes (using public funds) training specialist spin-doctors to convince the rest of us that they’re right and that our instinctual generosity is mistaken foolishness. Foolishness destined to create a class of dependents – never mind that their need for surplus labor is what really creates dependency!

    And never mind that their supposed deity ‘the Christ’ would probably pop a vein – and maybe lose his pacifism – if he understood the theft of his name in service of this self-serving bull.

    On the other side of the fence, the problem is daunting: not even model no.2’s proponents typically understand it (or model no.1) with the conviction necessary to articulate it to the Puritans and Social-Darwinists.

    One thing those of us do understand, however, is that the societies of the first model are ‘inhuman’, not ‘humane’.

    ‘Barbaric, not ‘civilized’.

    ‘Contrived’, not ‘natural’.

    And in our inarticulate anger over the centuries of success the proponents of the first model have had in confusing the issue, in dividing and ruling and fooling all the rest of us, we seem, to the ideologically grounded no.1er’s, ‘all fluff and no substance.’

    It isn’t so, folks.

    Yet after the no.1er’s stole the Jesus character and after Lenin completely butchered the flawed but instinctively well-intended offerings of Marx, our viewpoint hasn’t had a champion to extol it.

    Somebody’s gotta take on the task. Until that happens, converts from no.1, like John Perkins and David Brock (author of ‘Blinded By The Right: The Conscience of An Ex-Conservative’) will remain marginalized voices instead of potential paradigm-shifters.

    We need a paradigm shift, and in a hurry.

    I’m frankly ashamed to be a citizen of the country that perfected the no.1 model into a globally parasitic quasi-empire.

    Which John Perkins claims he helped to service.

    It’ll be an interesting show, eh?

  • Nikos

    Two quick thoughts:

    Stripping the private property concept of its ‘god-given’ aura and its trillions of words worth of Social Darwinian ‘justification’ doesn’t mean that, like Marx, we then do away with it.

    We like it too much for that.

    Even ‘lefties’. (I know this from a lifetime of experience as a leftie.)

    But once it’s finally understood as the cultural invention it is, we can then articulately debate exactly how we’d like to control it. (Yeah, concepts need control too: who wants a return to racial nonsense like Nazism?)

    As it is now, the fortunes earned by the wealthy off their laborers’ backs are viewed by the wealthy as their property – and hence their resentment of taxation.

    The Puritan message that it’s ‘all yours’ subverts the commonwealth-structure – a structure most lefties would like to help build into a cultural and social framework that abolishes victimization.

    As in: get rich if you want to and can, but expect to shovel substantial tithings back into the commonwealth.

    Cuz we little people are sick to death of our taxes going to our fellow citizens in the labor-surplus – not cuz we’re selfish but because the corporatocracy benefiting from the labor-surplus pool ought to be paying for it – not the rest of us.

    Lastly: whether Perkins’s tale is truth or fiction, its lore will spread throughout the world.

    Enough people hate us already – this will simply fuel the hatred.

    And denying its authenticity to the rest of the globe will seem like just another lie.

    Because the Bushies have absolutely RUINED American credibility for years if not decades.

    (I can already hear peggysue working up a hilarious way to ask ‘What credibility?’)

  • Gizmo Logix

    >>>Winston Dodson: Here are excerpts from Bush’s 2002 speech to UN, prior to the war: (Gizmo, he spoke for 50 mins and 35 of those were on the subject of bringing human rights and democracy to Iraq. The meme / urban legend / talking point that the stated desire to bring democracy and human rights to Iraq was only after the failure to find WMDs is simply false. If you’d like, I can search and find dozens more speeches by Bush, Cheney, Powell, Runsfeld, Rice and Wolfewitz all before the war, re: the same subject)>>>

    I can’t believe you posted those quotes from Bush, et al.

    This human rights rhetoric was a side show. Do you honestly believe we’d be in Iraq if it there wasn’t a huge oil stock there? Please…Saddam was a pain in our side, yes. Saddam + WMD was a premise for war. Not oil. They would never say that to the public even though it is true. Saddam without oil is a non-event. No occupation would have resulted.

    Pick any nation where there is human right violations and some warlord; but no oil. Are we there? I mean, if you are going to make a case for war and say, “Yes, we need oil. Yes, we need to remove Saddam because he’s selling oil to China….” Fine. Do that. But at least be honest about it.

    That’s why we have a democratic-republic. We should have voted on it with the most information available to the people then make a decision — not ghost stories about “devils” and “monsters.” But when the rhetoric gets so thick that you don’t know what the truth is. That’s called deception! I wont accept that. NEVER! This is why I will never follow Bush, Cheny or Rumsfeld.

    So, you are showing the point that I was trying to make. What the administration tells the common people and what they actually do is completely different. The WMD and 911 was the catalyst they needed to motivate the people into thinking that Iraq was *the enemy!* The feel-good stories about freeing the iraq people was a side story after the main goals were accomplished. Please don’t use revisionist history to show that the MAIN reasons were “freedom” and “liberty.” You know darn well that the majority of the people wouldn’t have gone into Iraq if 911 or WMD hadn’t been made such a prime reason for preemptive war.

    >>>And I will, take your comments as a “thank you� and send in return a hardy “your welcome� even though I am not sure that they were intentional, since by the same analogy, you wouldn’t be here making comments on this site without the US military.>>>

    I’m not sure what you are implying. Are you saying that because our fighting military exist that that’s the *reason* that I have freedom to post on this site?

    Is this the WWII nostalgia? Or the military in general nostalgia?

  • There was an interesting conersation between the great ruler Kublai Khan and the traveler Marco Polo–as told by Italo Calvino in Invisible Cities:

    “Already the great Khan was leafing through his atlas, over the maps of cities that menace in nightmares and maledictions: Enoch, Babylon, Yahooland, Butua, Brave New World.

    He said: ‘It is all useless, if the last landing-place can only be the infernal city, and it is there that, in ever-narrowing circles, the current is drawing us.’

    And Polo said: ‘The inferno of the living is not something that will be; if there is one, it is what is already here, the inferno where we live every day, that we form by being together. There are two ways to escape suffereing it. The first is easy for many: accept the inferno and become such a part of it that you can no longer see it. The second is risky and demands constant vigilance and apprehension: seek and learn to recongnize who and what, in the midst of the inferno, are not inferno, then make them endure, give them space.’ (pp. 126-7).

    I think this tale is appropriate to Mr. Perkins personal journey through the inferno, both as one ablaze in it and now one, as he tells us, trying to dampen its fury.

  • Nikos

    It took a while to smoke it out of its lair in my memory, but here’s a short article concerning Puritanism’s role among the country’s contemporary power elite:

    And as for the seemingly shocking notion that pastors might cherry-pick their scripture to tailor a message for a wealthy congregation, try Daniel Dennett’s ‘Breaking The Spell’:

    (although expect to annoyed by the indefensible self-sabotage on pages 21 – 22.)

  • cheesechowmain

    I really enjoyed Nikos’ thoughts on puritanism and darwinism. I’m still mulling them over.

    There does some to be an observable “eye of the needle” contradiction.

    Incidently, here’s an interesting link about Bonobos they explain some of there flat hierarchy, rated NC-17 I think:

    I’m very ill-equiped to grapple with war-profiteering. But, things look fishy here. If it wasn’t profitable to participate in infrastructure activities that are related to war/conflict, I would think shareholders and board of directors would revolt. War profiteering has sort of a hold-your-nose-while-you-do-it quality to it from my perspective. But, different stroke for different folk.

    I’d also speculate that media outlets get a fair dose of market infused capital due to war/conflict. It would appear to the untrained eye, they may even thrive given the nature of how war/conflict are presented as an ongoing saga of epic proportions. Again, I’d use shareholders, board of directors, market makers, analysts, et al as sort of a weathervane. Perhaps, I’m not listening in the right places. I’d better spend some time with James “Mad Money” Cramer.

    Lastly, I hope someone on the ROS staff notices ebay spam that has wandered in amongst us great unwashed. Spam = Kooties in my worldview.

  • Nikos

    Someone’s gonna make a billion $ off this as a book or movie title:

    “You Can’t Very Well Fight a War While You’re Having an Orgasm”

    Thanks cheesechowmain!

  • Nikos

    Oh, btw (re cheesechowmain’s awesome bonono link):

    European explorers and missionaries were consistently ‘shocked’ at the ‘licentiousness’ of the Polynesians and countless other gardener or hunter-gatherer peoples. Because until the anti-natural advent of monotheistic prudery, humans behaved much like bononos. Hence niceties like the female orgasm – and the greater chances for ova fertilization orgasms confer. Which, hopefully, will someday put into its well-deserved grave the stereotype of the brute caveman hauling off a woman to his (improbable!) nuclear-family cavern for the conjugal rape. (Another Victorian-era societal extrapolation-mistake.)

    Nope. All the evidence points toward a VERY different probability. Human sexual response, when studied carefully, parallels the bonono very closely. Which means human society must have done so too, for what, about 4 million years?

    Ah, the good ol’ days…

    (This would be a great show topic if it weren’t so ‘NC-17’.)

  • I just finished Perkins book today; it was very interesting.

    I was thinking about how Perkins and other EHMs dealt with countries. How about something closer to home? Are US companies also trying to enslave the American public? Most people easily pre-qualify for credit cards (sometimes toddlers); in fact, I have heard stories of dogs getting credit card offers. It is not in the interest of credit card companies to educate their card holders about how to use credit responsibly. However, some of these credit card companies have corporate siblings that advise people how to manage debt. In a sense, major financial services conglomerates are enslaving individuals with debt and then enslaving them with the way to get out of it. I think that EHMs work both in macroeconomics and microeconomics. What do y’all think?

  • Gizmo Logix – your comment “Did we go into Iraq for “social justice?â€? Really? Maybe you did. But not the powers that be.” And I supplied eveidence that the “powers that be” also SAID that they wanted “social justice there” but it they did really want this is a question re: their motivation and others seem to be better judges of thier motives than I.

    And it isn’t a very strong arguement to say because there are other interests invovled it doesn’t allow the govt to have humanitarian ones as well. We reorganized Europe and Japan after WWII for our own benefits, not just for thiers, and at the same time produced some of the greatest benefits for human rights in history.

    Just as is happening in Afghanistan and Iraq now.

    And I never said, not implied that the main reason for going into Iraq was for human rights – no one does including the staunchest of Neocons. But the converse is also not true, that there were no intetnions of improving the humans rights in Iraq by establishing a democracy as is apparent from the many pre-war speaches. Besides its pratical and smart to promote democracies, as I said we did in West Europe, Japan and S Korea, becuase it is benefitcial to us.

    And the “thanks” comment was just trying to get a “rise” out of you. But you don’t have to go to WWII to find reasons to beleive that we wouldn’t be here now if it weren’t for US military. No US military during Cold War (remember Cold War hasted until fall USSR in 1989), no Western Europe no Japan and no S Korea so no economy for you to eat from. The modern concept of “the West” is built upon a foundation formed by the US military.

  • cheesechowmain – no one is trying to argue that doing business in a war zone isn’t profitable. Economics can be defined as the “study on incentives” and if there were no incentive (profit) in doing business in a war zone businesses wouldn’t be there. The entire dicussion began as a response to the “Evit Haliburton” meme that tries to classify it as a company whose only (or even main) revenues / profits come from work in Iraq / war zones. I suuplied fugures from the publically available docs that show that to not even be close to true. Haliburton makes ~ 10% of thier revenues off of ALL of there public contracts (inlcuding Iraq) and these are of less profiabilty than thier average contracts. They are not in Irag giving out charity so while they are there they will make money but the real pay-off for them is in the following years as the Iraq economy continues to improve. The French Oil Services Company, Slumberger was, before the war, the largest contractor to the Iraq govt of Saddam and I am sure that Haliburton would like to be there as the new govt in Iraq stand up and needs people to help it improve its oil production. So, Haliburton just wants to “play along with Big Oil” and make money off of helping the Iraqis to make money off of pumping thier oil.

  • Nikos

    Hey, all, here’s a pop-culture example of the difference between the ‘rugged individualist’ paradigm so venerated by the Social Darwinian right-wingers and the ‘teamwork’ paradigm of the leftist social model that’s predicated on ‘we’re all in this together.’

    Tonight’s NBA East vs. West All-star game – normally a venue for individual ego-worship: the West led the East by 21 points in the third quarter – until the ‘team-comes-first’ quartet from the Detroit Pistons imbued the squad with its selfless ethic and scrapped away the deficit to forge a lead they’d not relinquish.

    Wait: it gets better…

    Here’s a special for Winston Dodson:

    Does the Marine Corps venerate Patton-esque egotism, or teamwork?

    Who’s more important to you: the platoon lieutenant, or the twelve men in your squad?

    Who do you choose to die for:

    Your general, or your buddies?

    This, my friend, is why I predict you’ll eventually choose to vote for the non-Republican party option. (Despite the Dems seeming currently like the Keystone Cops. If we’re lucky, they’re only sandbagging until September.)

    Ohio’s Paul Hackett, an Iraq war vet, came over to the team-first side – just as I believe you will.

    It’s premature, I know, but: Welcome Aboard.

    (Disclaimer: I am a died-in-the-wool Detroit Pistons fan – but for all the right reasons: if any (male) pro sports team ever metaphorically represented the progressive ‘society-first’ paradigm, it’s them. Their likely opposition for the NBA title this June is another team-first squad: the San Antonio Spurs. Meanwhile, the game’s best individual player, Kobe Bryant, is expected to barely make the playoffs with his Lakers – and to then lose in the first or second round.

    Stick that in your Social Darwinist pipe and smoke it!)

  • Nikos its Teamwork – but the biggest part of teamwork is developing a vision that can be shared by all on the team. I am very proud of the fact that the US military is very apolitical but I am afraid that the Dems are making it hard by the total abandonment of any rational national defense strategy.

    I voted for Bush 1 while I was still in the military becuase of the obvious difference between the 2’s expereince. I think that Willy grew into a role where he wasn’t as bad in military / US defense strategy I am one to admit that I think that he was, despite his picadillos etc, above averagly competent Pres. But given choices between what the Dems seem to reflexively make ensures that many with recent military experience will chose another candidate.

    I think that I have some interesting empercial data as well as opinions that might help you understand my choices both now and in the future:

    (PS – I don’t want to re-open the Kerry vs Swift Boat thing here)

    In the last (in)famous Pres election polls showed that while the vote of all Vets / families with vets voted ~ 50 / 50 for Bush vs Kerry active duty military went 66 / 33. That is the largest split ever recorded.

    Many try to dismiss it as “Flocking to support the CIC during war but this never happened with Clinton durring our involvement in Balkans etc) or other “loyalty” effects. But I think that the real reason is that there is a HUGE generational change in the attitudes of people who have been or are joining the military in post Vietnam era.

    I think that under conditions where this split had not / wasn’t occuring Kerry’s entire war narative would have worked – to anyone with experience with military in Vietnam (or before Regan era when the military began its drastic change) it was ok. After all, if you go to a war where most people are draftees and don’t want to be there anybody like Kerry, who can manage to get into the Navy (who everyone knows don’t really go to war unless you are a pilot) and accidently get duty on small boats that hadn’t even existed when you “volunteered” for the anvy becasue you ahd lost you last deferment and ahd a draft number that wold ensure that you got drafted, then do a “credible job”, put yourself up for 2 purple hearts (where one requires nothing but a band-aid and neither wound ever required a single hour in a hospital), then are smart enough to work the regulations to get yourself home, then to many other Vietnam Vets you look like an OK guy.

    But, to people who, after Vietnam (really post Reagan as I said above) this is not an “AVERAGE” story in their military experience. From what I have read and heard from Kerry his experience with the military is so TOTALY different from mine I can’t even relate to his.

    So, I am not saying his was wrong it’s just that the military has changed so much sicne when he had his it doesn’t fit into the “average” narative. ANd, I think that this is reflected in the polls of active duty military members.

    I say all of this because I think that the Dems have a bigger problem with the getting the votes of people with more recent military experience than they / you realize.

    I am not saying that my “litmus test” is that and Dem politician must totally agree with me on positions re: military but they must pass a “hurdle” of some minimum compentency and I am afraid someone like Kerry could never do so. In fact, for me, his military exerience and what he did with it was a bigger minus than plus. If he hadn’t had any I might have considered voting for him vs Bush with his “adequate” experience with the Guard.

    I think Hackett had credible service in Iraq but looked / acted like an opportunist. Having a military record doens’t make you qualified to talk about the war, you have to still adress issues that are real to poeple in military. And in this regard, I can tell that harping about body armor and armored Humvees doesn’t work becuase everyone in military knows that you never have everyhting that you want and nothing can take out all risks.

    And thanks for the offer Nikos becuase if the Repubs go crazy and nominate a crazy like Brownbeck then I will vote for almsot any Dem.

    Under some circumstances I would even vote for Hillary and Warner also makes for a tough one.

    But just to give you nightmares, I think that the Repubs might be smart nominate McCain and then in order to placate crazies he will pick Bush (as in Jeb from FL because he can also deleiver FL). Then McCain will be to old to run for 2nd term and Jeb will then pick Condi as VP running mate. Then if he won 2 terms I think that would make something like 28 out of 36 years where a Bush was in the White-house.

    Good night and “pleasnat dreams!”

  • I can’t contribute mcuh to a dicussion re: basketball sorry.

  • Nikos


    I respect you pal, but hold onto to your Fox News under-shorts for a frickin’ second.

    “I think Hackett had credible service in Iraq but looked / acted like an opportunist�

    And Bush DIDN’T?????


    Neither Bush nor Cheney served legitimately in the military! (Or that son of a bitch in Georgia who, before the term was a known concept, ‘Swift-Boated’ Max Clelland!)

    YOU’re more qualified for Commander in Chief than EITHER of ‘em.

    As is Hackett.


    Drop the ideology, Winston, or we’ll just start ignoring you.

    You don’t deserve that.

    And we need your veteran perspective here, too.

    Quit relying on the Fictional News Network, for cryin’ out loud.

    Try Ed Schultz at least. He’s a patriot and a centrist Democrat.

    If we want right-wing demagoguery, we ALL know which channel carries it.

    We don’t need it here.

    Night, pal.

  • Gizmo Logix

    >>>Winston Dodson: And I never said, not implied that the main reason for going into Iraq was for human rights – no one does including the staunchest of Neocons.>>>

    Please don’t get the human rights confused with political propaganda. This is used to fool the people into thinking that they are in grave danger. This is what is being missed by you. The neocons have always touted liberties (they are liberal foreign policy advocates). But the republican party didn’t not frame the reason for going to war as such. It was a tied to 911/Iraq and the danger of Saddam’s WMD! That’s HOW the war was framed. The social justice is the underlying feel-good reasons that came later. So, the main reasons are 1) Remove Saddam for political, regional, economical reasons. 2) Oil 3) Strategic interests 4) Protection of Israel 5) human rights.

    But how to convince the people!? WMD! Scary huh?

    >>> Winston Dodson: We reorganized Europe and Japan after WWII for our own benefits, not just for thiers, and at the same time produced some of the greatest benefits for human rights in history. Just as is happening in Afghanistan and Iraq now.>>>

    Please. No more WWII comparisons…please… The analogies and romanizations of WWII is not comparable to the situations today in the ME. You are dealing with something far more obscure: religion and culture. This is not a country you can just conquer and rearrange. This is not dealing with a standing military force that you can defeat like the Nazi’s Army/Air-force or the Japanese Navy. This is why I’m sick and tried of hearing about WWII comparisons. It’s a weak comparison.

    >>>Winston Dodson: And the “thanks� comment was just trying to get a “rise� out of you. But you don’t have to go to WWII to find reasons to believe that we wouldn’t be here now if it weren’t for US military. No US military during Cold War (remember Cold War hasted until fall USSR in 1989), no Western Europe no Japan and no S Korea so no economy for you to eat from. The modern concept of “the West� is built upon a foundation formed by the US military.>>>

    I wasn’t talking about the “thanks” part. I was taking about the military/freedom comment.

    I’ve heard that “military/freedom” argument so many times it’s getting old. That’s why I mentioned the WWII nostalgia. I knew you were trying to make some broad statement regarding the military and my freedoms. By the way, I served for over a decade. So, no explanation is needed regarding what the military is good for and what it’s not. Let me say a few things about that type of broad logic you use and some of your assumptions.

    This is regarding the weak “if it wasn’t for the military you wouldn’t be posting on this site” remark. Sigh…

    The military is a tool. They are used for specific purposes. They are not the *only* reason that I have freedom (your WWII nostalgic remark). The Constitution and the Bill of Rights is what bestows my freedom. The military (national guard) can also be used to oppress. The civil rights movement wasn’t achieved because OF the MILITARY. It was in spite of them. Women’s rights weren’t achieved because of the military. It was in spite of them. Military soldiers that commit war crimes will have major effects politically and emotionally on the people they attack. Especially in this occupation. Lets not forget the abuses in the prisons that have been occurring (more than we know of). I could argue that the military is making me less free by inciting the hatred of the US even more than it was before the war.

    The military can be used for good and bad. This is NOT one of those good times. This was war of deception from the start. And that’s why there will always be a division in the US.

    I also wanted to point out something when you said that the reason that the Iraqis had elections was because the US Military was there. Yes, that’s true. But let me ask you this. How much is a “democratic” election worth under foreign occupation? Kinda defeats the purpose of a sovereign country, right?

    The reason that democratic societies work is because the people WANT THEM for their government. And they want to vote THEIR WAY — the results will not follow what the US wants. In 1789 the leaders of the US created their own govement based on a democratic-republic because they wanted it that way. Not because it was told to do so by Britain or France (occupying forces). Could you imagine if France came to the US and occupied our country and said, “This is how constitutional-democracy works. Do it our way and we’ll watch you and make sure you do it right.”

    Britain tried. We gave them the American Revolution. Get the hell out of our country, we said. And that’s what will happen in Iraq sooner or later. The imperial foreign policy is not sustainable. It might have some short term accomplishments — well intentioned or not. But none that can be sustained.

    What? 150,000 troops in Iraq? 150,000 more in Iran? 200,000 in N. Korea? Another 500,000 in Saudi Arabia? Maybe 100,000 in Cuba? Try it! I dare you!

    This will not be a world war. This will be an American War. An American conquest. And we will be fighting alone until we bankrupted ourselves.

    Don’t believe me? Stay in Iraq. Stay in Afghanistan. See what happens.

  • Gizmo Logix

    >>>Nikos wrote: Disclaimer: I am a died-in-the-wool Detroit Pistons fan – but for all the right reasons:>>>

    Damn you Nikos! 😛

    I’m a Rocket Fan! And my team plays great team ball. But lacks passion: TMacs a nice guy. Yao’s a nice guy. But no fire.

    Team ball is best. Lead by a leader. Billups is the leader. I know a lot about the pistons even though I’m a Rocket fan.

    Billups reminds me of Joe Dumars (the best defender that ever guarded Jordan).

    I don’t care who wins as long as the Mavs don’t. Oh, by the way. Beat Miami.

  • Nikos

    Gizmo: the best move the Pistons ever made was hiring Dumars as their GM and Veep. Class and savvy — and the inherent humility necessary to know a show-boat egomaniac from a less talented but more valuable team-first player.

    And then, after making just such choices, Billups blossoms on him into more than a team-first guy: he’s cold-blooded three-point shooting assassin. Who can pass like a wizard. And toss off-angle layups that spin off the glass into the hoop like Magic Johnson’s.

    And then, since moving out here from Michigan, I’m stuck with the don’t-know-the-meaning-of-the-word-defense Sonics.


    Well, good luck to both our teams.

    See ya. 🙂

  • Perkins talks about the role of EHM and the Jackals in the triumph of American imperialism. He also suggests that to change the rules of the corporitocracy game or at least to level the playing field, the US public must speak out and take action. This touches on the whole issue of complicity, of why Americans (of course not all) have “accepted” the inferno, or what Nikos calls the Social Darwinian-Puritan model/practice of social betterment. Desire and fear aroused by the advertising industry and a castrated media are common reasons given. Another piece of the puzzle that is worth considering and which often falls off the table is the impact of McCarthyism on the social sciences in America.

    Of course there is much written and broadcast about the attack on intellectuals. A book worth reading in this area is “Threatening Anthropology: McCarthyism and the FBI’s Surveillance of Activist Anthropologists” by David H. Price. Rather it is the objectivist turn after the McCarthy witch-hunt, the emphasis on quantitative and pseudo-scientific research over critical theory that has played into the hands of GNP rankers, labour efficiency analysts, and those who would reductively measure and monetarize every move we make, every step we take…

    American empiricism and logical positivism prior to McCarthyism rubbed up against dialectic materialism, which kept it in check. But the specter of McCarthy forced critical theorists into the shadows and led intellectuals to bury their ideas in reams of statistical data, something that did not happen to the same extent in Britain or continental Europe. In fact, a BBC Radio 4 programme “In Our Time” (worth listening too if you don’t already) 2005 survey of the Greatest Philosopher placed Marx at the top. This is something that could never happen in America. Contemporary European thinkers that have challenged the status quo, such as Bourdieu, Deleuze, Arendt, Pateman, Foucault, Levi-Strauss, Williams, Harvey, etc, etc, easily come to mind. The American list is far fewer–King, Gates, hooks, Chomsky… It is not that they don’t exist, but that they are marginalized, silenced, called unpatriotic or radical rather than embraced and given space to help open up the discussion and debate.

    Without them, without a climate of critical inquiry, it is that much easier for the number crunchers to legitimize harmful policy and deceive the public and for the EHM and Jackals to do their dirty work.

  • Wow! Do you people ever sleep?

    We could simply give them the money. Why don’t we? Maybe it’s easier to sell a “loan” than a handout among the compassionate conservatism crowd. Inspired cynicism recognizes the predicament they are placing on their intended victims ahead of time but wraps itself in the mantle of consideration for their current miserable condition thus imparting a vague sense of valiance. Something bankable in the current orthodoxy. Charity being a phrase in great disdain currently.

    A loan is sticky. Rather than blowing the money in a great anonomous spree, you have to account for it; if not during initial purchase, then at bankruptcy time. How can you arm your revolution if you’re constantly and eternally monitored by the bean counters?

    Anyone can blow a wad of cash, but it takes a lawyer, an accountant, a capitalist, an economist, a basket of politicos and a partridge in a pear tree to spend and ultimately go bankrupt on a bogoloan. These players rise in prominence and can later use their acquired talents in the boardrooms of global conglomerates or to further spread the West Nile virus.

    Hey, it’s big business everybody wins, cigars all around! Now don’t stay up past your bedtimes. Sweet dreams.

  • cheesechowmain

    sidewalker your 02.20.2006 @ 9:24 post is outstanding. Pretty close to right down the middle-of-the-goalposts. There is a paradoxical view towards thinking expressed by America’s walkin’/drivin’ around folks. This is a very fertile and generative post for me. I’ll be hanging out with it and examining it through my perspective; a continuation of a personal inquiry. kudos

  • Nikos

    Annhung wrote: “I was thinking about how Perkins and other EHMs dealt with countries. How about something closer to home? Are US companies also trying to enslave the American public? Most people easily pre-qualify for credit cards (sometimes toddlers); in fact, I have heard stories of dogs getting credit card offers. It is not in the interest of credit card companies to educate their card holders about how to use credit responsibly. However, some of these credit card companies have corporate siblings that advise people how to manage debt. In a sense, major financial services conglomerates are enslaving individuals with debt and then enslaving them with the way to get out of it. I think that EHMs work both in macroeconomics and microeconomics. What do y’all think?�

    Hey Annhung, nice to see you.

    This is a tangent, but well worth a reply. I think you’re spot on, and here’s why:

    The credit industry operates like fast food chains.

    They’re everywhere, and pushing their junk hard.

    But it’s not only ‘tasty’ credit like junk food they’re peddling, it’s junk as in ‘heroin’. Because once you’ve snared a kid into an improvident but typical impulse-purchase on credit, that company owns hundreds of hours of the debtor’s life as she works to pay not only the principle but the loan-shark interest.

    Of course it gets better: lobbyists from the credit-as-heroin industry wrote the new bankruptcy law that went into effect last month (or the month before). And that law effectively makes sinking debtors into indentured servants until the debts – and the usurious interest rates – are paid off.

    This is how scornful our congress is of the people they claim to represent.

    They don’t even bother anymore to write the laws they levy on us.

    Are we SURE we don’t want perhaps to take a hard look at the government-as-was-constituted way back in a century long before the advent of this century’s economic entities and realities?

    Are we SURE this fossilized republic will work for the people ‘if we only all just get out and vote’?

    Compare this ancient republic, founded by the wealthy, to the state-of-the-art parliamentary democracies in Europe, whose voter turn-outs shame ours.

    Think about it.

    And think about how this same republic seems capable of spawning EHM’s.

    Are we proud?

  • Nikos

    Speaking of Fox News: any putative news organization that has to preemptively trumpet that it’s ‘Always fair and balanced’ is hiding something.

    Something as inherently dishonest as these ominously preemptive words from your lover:

    “I hope I’m not about to cause you any pain, but…�

  • Plaintext wrote, “We could simply give them the money. Why don’t we? … Hey, it’s big business…”

    You’re right on. And here’s a longer explanation, if you don’t mind me getting my thoughts about this out of my head so I can sleep.

    According to Marx, Capitalism requires: i) a steady rate of growth, regardless of the social, political or ecological consequences; ii) the exploitation of living labour in production; and technological and organizational innovation driven by profit. He also showed that these conditions were contradictory and that Capitalism was crisis-prone. There would be periods of over-accumulation, where idle capital and labour could not come together for socially useful ends. Since the tendency to over-accumulation under capitalism cannot be avoided, it can only be contained, delayed or managed–for a time. The great British human geographer, David Harvey offers three ways capitalist societies attempt to deal with over-accumulation.

    One is the devaluation of commodities, productive capacity, money and labour power. At the extreme end, devaluation can be achieved by destruction (war is an obvious method). The problem with devaluation, as Harvey mentions, is that it is too brutal and can provoke a revolution. It also creates too much garbage, as we are finding out.

    The second way is through Macro-economic control. He offers the example of Fordist production with a Keynesian mode of state regulation. But this only came about after a major crisis in over-accumulation, which was the great depression. Today we could say the Iraq war is a combination of Military Keynesianism and destructive devaluation. But it also ties in with the third way that Harvey mentions.

    This is the absorption of over-accumulation through a temporal and spatial displacement. The temporal fix is when there is increased turnover time, such as bringing out ever-new models of cars, or when you move resources from meeting today’s needs into future uses, such as big public development projects. For the later to work well and mop up surpluses, there must be a credit system based on paper money ‘fictitious capital’ not supported by physical assets (only the promise of some useful and profitable result, which requires continuous and growing state-backed indebtedness. Sound familiar?

    The spatial fix occurs when geographical expansion absorbs excess capital and labour. Basically, it is capital seeking new spaces for investment, production, trade, sales and for the exploitation of labour. This also requires state-backed fictitious capital and, when necessary…the intervention of fiscal, monetary and military powers (read EHMen, Wolves, Wolfowitzes and Jackals).

    Hey, it’s big business.

  • frobisher

    I’ve read Perkins’s book. There were people who were aware of what he says he was doing. As an economics student at the University of Leeds in 1971, I met one of them, Theresa Hayter, author of “Aid as Imperialism”. Perkins’s book purports to be a first person account of the process she described 35 years ago.

  • Maybe it’s a function of the format, or even the relatively small type size, but I find myself skipping over comments that exceed a certain length, say, 400 words. I notice that I’m much more likely to invest some time in a long blog post than in a long comment, perhaps because I know that the blog post is self contained, where I could come to the end of a long comment and find…another long comment at the end.

    I know of few online conversation tools that address the problem of a reader’s reluctance to invest time if they don’t know how much time they will have to spend to come to the end. It’s like walking into a store where nothing has price tags; a lot of shoppers will presume the goods are too expensive, and will walk right back out.

  • Nikos

    Katherine asks in the tease whether Perkins’s story ‘rings true’ to us.

    It’s obvious from this thread that many of us find the existence of EHM’s credible; yet here’s an example of a detail that’s just so much like a Hollywood ‘evil-conspiracy’ tale it beggars our credulity.

    ‘Claudine’, on pages 17+, who introduces the term ‘economic hit men’ to the trembling young John Perkins.

    This is just flat. Artless, perhaps. Too ‘convenient’.

    Perhaps Mr. Perkins could spend a moment explaining this?

  • cheesechowmain

    Thank you Lisa Williams. I am a gas bag of some notoriety, more around friends, family, & captive co-workers than webspace. Your comment is exceedingly insightful. I’d would really like to see some tools that help manage and navigate these comment sections. The shopper example is spot on.

  • Nikos

    Perhaps a better way to pose the ‘credibility’ question is this:

    Perkins’s expose would work just as well were the ‘conspiracy’ an unspoken, never articulated confluence of influences and power.

    It might even be more plausible than the Hollywood-esque scenes wherein ‘EHM’ is a whispered revelation of brooding evil.

    (Or maybe that scene on pgs. 16-17 would have worked had I only read it to a soundtrack ominous ambient music.)

    I don’t want to eventually learn that certain details of this book were invented to enhance the salability of an account of real-life economic parasitism.

    If any single detail is ever disproved, the demagogues of the Fictional News Network – who will in-so-doing earn undeserved credibility – will debunk the book’s entire message.

    That’s how well-meaning progressives sabotage their laudable efforts.

    No more of that, please.

  • fiddlesticks

    Did he just say “pound of flesh?”

  • fiddlesticks

    Oh I see, “evil white males” are taking the place of “the Jews.”

  • fiddlesticks

    He was “seduced,” was he abandoned too?

  • fiddlesticks

    Oh the New York Times fact checked his book.

    That makes me feel so much better. Did they check before or after their latest scandals.

  • cheesechowmain

    Can’t read intentions? Huh? Intentions for loaning money: getting something in return of like value plus interest. Try to manage the risk. What’s mysterious about that. Your local loan officer understands this. Sheesh.

  • John

    When the president and other members of the G8 announce forgiving the crushing debts borne by third world countries, are they talking about debts by private banks? and if so…doesn’t this lend credene to what Perkins is saying? the debts–and debt load can be crippling. Surely the lenders know how risky some of these are. Why are loenders any difft from the guy at the car dealership who tries to snare me in the fine print?

  • cheesechowmain

    I suppose the phrase like value plus interest may be hard to discern in regards to this matter. I withdraw my cheeky comment above…

  • malcolm

    Thank you so much, Mr. Perkins, for opening my eyes to this horrible, immoral practice, which I gather has been going on for a very long time.

    I wonder what the American people will/would do, if/when they learn what has been done to so many millions of “foreigners� in our name?

    Would they be willing to pay reparations to these innocent people who have suffered so at the hands of American corporations (and others, it must be said)? Would they be willing to live without consuming five times “our share� of the earth’s resources?

    I’m afraid that the answer is going to be a resounding “NO!� I hope like hell I’m wrong, as this would be very dissapointing to me, but I am not very optimistic.

    the problem, I believe, is the average person cares more about “me� than “we�.

    “We� implies that we’re all deserving of equality. But that implies we Americans need to share. And sharing is hard, even for us adults…

  • fiddlesticks

    He likes Chavez too, the man who would make an alliance with Iran and supports their acquisition of nuclear weapons.

    Not a very credible speaker.

  • Nikos

    You know, it’s a little bit maddening: Perkins’s crisis of conscience in Chapter 8 is redundant: the ‘wonderings’ he details were answered much earlier by the ‘Claudine’ character. How can he expect us to believe that he suddenly posed reflective questions she answered early on? And WHY? Why should we buy it?

    Yet in between these redundant episodes, he details just how aware the Indonesians of ’71-’75 were of the American exploitation – and this rings true because it parallels nearly exactly the eye-opening conversations I had with my old-world cousins in 1970’s Greece.

    The so-called Third World has never doubted that American corporations exploit them.

    So, my ongoing skepticism stems from the outrageous ‘we know we’re screwing them not helping them’ anti-altruism Perkins attributes to his colleagues.

    Do people really wake up and go to work everyday for inarguably nefarious causes?

    Don’t they believe instead that they’re doing good?

    Yet then I recall the recorded phone-talk of the scummy Enron traders gloating over cheating grandmas…

    Maybe Perkins ‘evil white man’ self-loathing isn’t so farfetched after all.

    His page-after-page crisis of conscience is, on the other hand, wearisome.

    I’d rather he’d spent more words on the details of his nefarious dealings, not on how badly he felt for it.

    He should have quit, instead of that. It feels not a little disingenuous.

  • Nikos

    The World Bank apologist is actually erasing my skepticism, not strengthening it.

    Which might mean only that Perkins needed a better ghostwriter for his book so that it wouldn’t ring so atonally, instead of plausibly pealing out its exposé.

    I wonder if he wrote it himself. Probably. That might explain its seeming shakiness.

  • Nikos

    One wonders how ‘poverty statistics’ are calculated.

    Is one man’s (Sebastian’s) ‘vast decrease in poverty’ meaningful to the billions of poor?

  • Nikos

    On the other hand, one wonders how Perkins coined ‘corporatocracy’ all by himself in Indonesia in the early 70’s. (Chapter 6 — I think it was Chapter 6 anyway.)


  • Nikos

    Attaway sidewalker: nice on-air question.

    I for one felt the show had about another half-hour to go…and just then it was over!

    How’d THAT happen?

    Nevertheless: thanks Chris.

    My own post-game analysis is that the exploitation-system exists at least in unspoken conspiracy form if not with overt, self-conscious EHM’s. (Think Enron.)

    I’m willing to wager that most Third-Worlders believe it too, since they live within the system’s effluents.

    Which brings up the question again — especially since ‘EHM’ is about to become a movie (which I didn’t know till tonight) — what backlash will we have to endure from sick-to-death-of-it-and-not-gonna-take-it-anymore victims of transnational corporate exploiters?

  • cheesechowmain

    1. The ATM Monster visual is excellent. Sometimes the cool stuff is right under nose.

    2. I’d rather see John Stewart or Lewis Black play the EHM. Get me the casting director, stat!

    3. Nikos: “Do people really wake up and go to work everyday for inarguably nefarious causes?” Yes.

    4. Nikos: “I for one felt the show had about another half-hour to go…and just then it was over!” A second show? Maybe that’s a stretch, but there seemed to be a lot of issues still on the table.

    I enjoyed this show and wanted to hear more.

  • johnranta

    Whew! Where do you guys find the time to keep up with all of this? I have one comment to make on Perkins’ EHM conspiracy theory, based not on his OpenSource show, but on hearing him on Democracy Now last week (he’s out making the rounds, flogging his book). Much of what he has to say about the World Bank fits the model of a typical conspiracy theory.. The theorist has insider credentials. The theory’s plausible for the most part, but difficult for the average informed citizen to verify. The theory plays to the belief of some on the left in an over-arching capitalist-imperialist-power elite agenda (like the Trilateral Commission once did). What put me off Perkins was not his World Bank EHM theory, I have no way of knowing how much of that is true. But when he started to explain to a wide-eyed (and not nearly skeptical enough) Amy Goodman that the US Congress was compliant and complicit because they had been cowed by the assassinations of JFK and RFK and MLK, I started gagging. When he puts EHMs on the grassy knoll, he loses me, it’s just way too much conspiracy to swallow. But I’ll bet it makes his publisher happy…JR

  • Chris

    I havn’t read the book but I feel South America was not discussed enough. Over here at UCSC I am currently taking an introductory Latin American and Latino Studies class. The first half of the class dealt with the history from the Spanish conquest up to the present. I was surprised how much of the class is about global economics! A listen to the show on 1/3/06, about Latin American Elections, nicely complements this topic.

    Basically, as the nations in South America became independent from Spain the people did not necessarily become independent themselves. Dictators and wealthy locals rulded the land. There was, and still is, much corruption. During the 1800s the US jumped on the imperialist bandwagon (monroe doctorine etc.). I dont want to run through a bunch of history so I’ll cut to the chase. by the 1970s the developing countries in Latin America were not economically developed enough to compete on the world market with the “neo-liberalist” policies of the World Bank, IMF, and US.

    I bring this history into play because it helps us not to get so caught up in the details of “globalization” and take a step back.

    It is clear by comparing the imperialism of the 19th and early 20th century to the current situation that the imperialism stopped for about 15 years, from 1930 to 1945 when the US was too busy with internal problems.

    Why don’t we just admit it? Globalization is a euphamism for modern imperalism. We aren’t spreading democracy, we are spreading pure capitalism!

    To go off topic, as if I havn’t already, a big issue here in the US has been immigration. If only everyone could understand that the reason people from Latin America come here to work is because of the terrible economic policies our government enforces upon their home countries. This is a sort of cycle that ends with cheap labor both at home (undocumented workers) and abroad for large corporations who depend upon it. I’m sorry i posted so late and so much, I’m new!

  • Chris

    I forgot to throw in the fact that Latin American coutries begain fighting for independence from Spain around 1810 so US imperialism started basically as the countries gained their freedom. It was during this time that the US and England began trading with the local elites and getting in on the mono-export markets.

  • Chris

    I wish i could edit my comment because i forgot to put in my question!

    So are there people up at the top who sit at a desk and laugh a menacing laugh and know very well what their businesses do to the rest of the world, or is this just the true nature of neo-liberalism/pure capitalism?

    furthermore, which answer is worse?!

  • archerwisdom

    How is what the EHM do overseas different from what is practiced here un the US. A negative savings rate, monsterous consumer debt, 40yr mgts, reverse mgts., refinancing with ARMs, refinancing for more than the value of the property (125%+), the list goes on. Are all these designed to keep the population powerless (and penniless) because they are too busy servicing their debt to pay any attention to what their government is doing? i.e. EHM and their parcatices?

    Money management and its use for one’s own benefit should be required in schools.

    One can be sure, if they don’t hava a plan for their money, someone else does.

  • loki

    Where was Paul Wolkowitz when we needed him?

  • The Washington Post dude did an excellent job of defending the status-quo. Interesting to hear so much advocacy coming from a journalist who is supposed to cover all aspects of the issue.

  • Brendan, thanks for asking my question. Perkins answer–threat, bribe, young child, may explain why he was reluctant to come clean in the 90s, as he said. What about the 20 years before that? Was he just too much in love with the game? Unless Claudine was Nikita, he could have just walked away from it all.

    Listening to the other guests, who supported some of Perkins assertions but wouldn’t go all the way, made me wonder about the conspiracy angle. Probably we have to thing about Cold War and post Cold-War periods.

    During the cold war there was tremendous pressure on countries to either choose bourbon or vodka. In this environment, I can picture EHM, Capitalist thugs or whatever we wish to call them trying to buy off leaders and hook those economies into a growing global trade network. Excess capital was also seeking ever fertile ground and the corporate/political elite had to find new methods to grow their profits and power base. But direct private investment in many cases was too risky, so development projects packaged and sold to the public as “aid” made more sense.

    Post Cold War times are quite different since the only thing on tap today is bourbon. Also, as one of the guests noted, for countries such as Thailand and now China, direct foreign investment is possible (capital markets have been established) and sufficient (though dangerous when it suddenly flows elsewhere). World Bank loans to poorer counties become less of a political tool and more a way to speed up the transformation of those economies and markets so they become easier to exploit.

  • Yes, the show seemed to end just as it got started.

    It would be interesting to look at foreign aid again, not from the position of the high and mighty WorldBank but from the on-the-ground NGOs. What are some of the success stories?

  • Gizmo Logix – You live in a world governed by the results of WWII and you and your children will live in a world largely changed / shaped by people who are using many of the same, but “improved” ideas today.

    The Western ideas of Free Market Democracy led, sometimes my military actions, will continue to grind down and then overcome the reamaining parts of the globe that it hasn’t yet reached. The only question is how will it look after it gets there. It will look differently in Iraq than it does in China.

    No US President elected after WWII failed to play the “Cold War Game” (even Jimma’ Carter could not remove troops from Korea after he made a campaign promise to do so) and no President after 9/11 will fail to play the “War on Terror” game (even Hillary supports the Iraq war).

    The only question is how much, how far, how fast. The ENTIRE stretegic thinking of the Pentagon has been changed and Rice is doing the same for the State Dept and Homeland Security was reoraganized to assist. Goss is at work at the CIA and Negroponte is doing the same as DNI. There hasn’t been reorganizations of such major portions of the US govt since after WWII, And that was in order to fight the Cold War. Here is a the best description of the “war” that we are now in – and I don’t mean the war in Iraq because that is just the first battle. (If you think that I am kidding you should go sit in a bookstore, I know that you will not want to buy it, and read this. Even if you don’t agree, you should because this book IS THE treatise on thinking in this arena today. This doctrine is taught / talked about in all military staff schools and many others in govt carry it around in thier brief cases).






    Read the May letters to the editor

    Read the June letters to the editor

    Esquire, March 2003 issue

    Since the end of the cold war, the United States has been trying to come up with an operating theory of the world�and a military strategy to accompany it. Now there�s a leading contender. It involves identifying the problem parts of the world and aggressively shrinking them. Since September 11, 2001, the author, a professor of warfare analysis, has been advising the Office of the Secretary of Defense and giving this briefing continually at the Pentagon and in the intelligence community. Now he gives it to you.

    LET ME TELL YOU why military engagement with Saddam Hussein�s regime in Baghdad is not only necessary and inevitable, but good.

    From WSD – There is an old saying that “If you throw a frog into a boiling pot of water it will jump out. But if you put it in the water cold, and gradually raise the heat it will stay there until it cooks”.

    You may not like the way things work and may even pretend like you don’t understand but the only real reason that most don’t recognize what is going on is because, like in the case of the frog, thier perspective and the pace of the change, prevents them.

  • Mr. Dodson, for once, actually not just once, I have to agree with you when you say,

    “The Western ideas of Free Market Democracy led, sometimes by military actions, will continue to grind down and then overcome the remaining parts of the globe that it hasn’t yet reached. The only question is how will it look after it gets there. It will look differently in Iraq than it does in China.”

    Probably what we disagree about is whether this is a good thing (I don’t mean this morally) or not for humanity. It is not that I prefer a scant meal of Stalinist communism or the ideological servings of radical Islam to a Capitalist stew flavoured now and again with a touch of democracy. The stew, even with its particular national herbs and spices, is really the only dinner in towns that must organize themselves to feed large numbers of people.

    But that doesn’t mean I don’t wish there were other dishes to choose from, that the stew didn’t come with such after-burn and indigestion and that some people didn’t hoard so much that others were left to lick the pot of just live off the aroma.

    Does this mean I am–what would you call me (besides pseudo-intellectual)–oh yes, liberal? Or socialist? Or weak? Or a Moonbat? Maybe I am all of these and more or less. Actually I don’t really know what I am, probably because I live between cultures and don’t have a homeland to root me. I guess I am a sidewalker of sorts.

    But I also think you have gotten so used to the taste of the stew you don’t care enough about how it is made (whose labour and resources) and what goes into it. Probably that’s not fair. Sorry. You care but you think that the market is the arbitrator of injustice and will correct the externalities.

    Actually I should stop blathering and let you tell me. In all sincerity, please do. I want to understand why you think the whole world should be like the US and why you think America is such a force of good in the world.

  • Since it seems I am alone again over here in Tokyo while you all sleep, I thought I would recite an interesting tale I read in the financial times a couple of years ago that ties in a little with this topic. I sorry I forget who the author was. If anyone has come across this tale, perhaps you can remind me. Anyway, here it goes.

    It’s about a Somalian man with a Phd. in Economic. Well all his property and wealth have been destroyed or confiscated during the civil war and all he is left with is one three-legged goat. The goat is his only capital as he puts it. But it cannot sustain him.

    However being an economist he is taught to find irregularities in the political/econonic system he can exploit for profit. In Somalia there is a rule that if an animal is killed the party responsible must pay back double the cost to replace it. The economist now living near a runway used for UN planes for safety decided to herd his one goat blindfolded right into the path of an incoming plane. The propeller took the goats head clean off and the man got paid for two goat from the airport authority. You can imagine what he did the next day. That’s right he bought two goats and again set them in front of a landing plane.

  • Other people followed the lead of our economist. But the story does not end there. What happened next was a classic bubble economy similar to the land speculation case in Japan and the tech stock boom in the US. First the demand for goats increased of course along with the price of goats. Now many people were herding their goats onto the runway and with hyper inflation by the time you were paid for your dead goats the price had gone up and you could no longer buy twice as many so you tried to keep ahead of the game by ever increasing the number of goats you sacrificed. As the price kept rising goats began to flood into the local marketplace there was such a demand. And people began selling their other wealth and property to get in on it and buy goats. Banks too started extending easy credit loans to good customers. Next an interesting thing happened.

  • You see by now everyone is in on the scheme trying to make money. Even the UN airport authority is trying to arrange the transport of more goats into the local market and some people are bringing in goats as aid on UN planes. Eventually there are not enough goats so that even old broken down ones could cost more than the price of a house. And this shortage was holding back the boom. People then started investing in goat futures goat options and even goat derivatives. The trade in unborn and theoretical goats let even more money into the market which had become so important that nobody could let it collapes. A whole bureaucracy even grew out of this to regulate the market and the UN appointed an officer to stabalize things. But his presence told investors that the UN wouldn’t let the market fail and it became a sure bet. Prices soared even higher. The UN started covering its costs by hedging on goat futures. So every time it paid out twice the price it would get quadruple the amount back. But by now so many goats are getting killed by so many planes that it takes until night to just clean all the goats off the runway and planes had to turn around on the runway to finish off goats they missed or just injured. This delayed the take-off and landing of planes and decrease revenues. So instead they brought in an IT system to replace the real one. Now people would just enter the number of goats and the correct plane information into a computer and everything would show up on a big screen. They could carry out in this virtual market two trading cycles could be completed in one day doubling revenues. Paper Millionaires and Billionaires grew in number and then…

  • By just getting out of bed in the morning and going down to the market paupers were becoming millionaires soon billionaires and trillionaires even. But without an actual goat to trade people lost their sense of value. Yet they still had envy. They were anxious that someone else had even more so they worked ever harder. Unfortunately nothing could cure their unease that they were getting left behind and the sense of failure and suicide rate increased. People now felt poorer than when they had owned little.

    Then one day when our economist had become a billionaire he went back to the old airport (a new one had been built for a now prosperous country that no longer needed aid). There he found two goats grazing in the abandoned runway. And while he was staring at the two goats he got a call from his office telling him that the bottom had fallen out of the market and he had lost everything. And all the wealth drained away like a bath full of dirty water. The luxuries the money the steel and glass towers–all gone. Heroes of the goat market were fired, divorced, jailed. Once creative geniuses, they had become common crooks in the cold light of day. In the end the fabric of society unravelled and the land fell back into poverty.

  • And what happened to our economist? Here are three endings that came to mind as I read the story.

    a) Left a pauper again and having risen so high and fallen so low, the Economist decides to go the way of the goats and he stands in front of a landing plane.

    b) In true economist fashion, he takes what little capital he has (the two goats) and he heads for greener pastures and the next opertunity.

    c) He decides to seek refugee status in Europe and eventually he gets a job teaching economics and entertaining students with his goat adventure–better to sit on the sidelines and discuss about capital ebbs and flows than swim in the dangerous waters.

  • Personally I like choice A. Maybe I have been in Japan too long or it is my strange sense of fairness or even distain for sentimentalism (but not sentiment). Or maybe it is just the most simple and clean ending–besides all the blood of course. But it is so un-Hollywood and counter the entrepreneurial spirit that it just wouldn’t do for our story. And ending C is far too benign and comfortable.

    Yes as you probably guessed long before I did, the actual ending is B.

    Said the Economist “I had learned my lesson. I had heard that the US were conducting tank exercises across the border in Djibouti. In Djibouti it is custom to pay a man triple the market price if you accidentally kill his beast. I raised my stout stick and drove my tow goats North before me through the minefields. But that is another story”

    And the moral of the story:

    -Always look for a bigger margin?

    -Nothing comes from nothing?

    -Poverty isn’t quaint nor wealth glamorous.

    -If wishes were horses then beggars would ride.

    -There was a crooked man, who had a crooked goat…

    -Who needs an EHM when you have a three-legged goat?

    -Don’t gloat over a dead goat.

    (any others?)

  • cheesechowmain

    Great tale sidewalker. I love that kind of stuff.

    I immediately thought of two of movies, both involving mice in some fashion. Fantasia’s scene with the Sorcerer’s Apprentice. And the Peter Sellers’ movie “The Mouse That Roared.” Well, I also thought of Wayne’s World I, but since this is a family website, I’ll not jog any memories about the scene of interest.

    In terms of moral instruction, I think you hit the essentials.

  • jakeb

    Thank you, Sebastian Mallaby, for bringing some sanity to what otherwise would have been a rediculous segment.

    Chris, why do you give a platform to people like this? I appreciate that you showed a good bit of scepticism, but really, aren’t there more thoughtful and intelligent people that you can bring onboard to discuss international aid and development? Think of the thousands of NGOs that are actively doing good micro lending who would die for a little publicity. Instead you put on a silly man peddling tripe to the throngs of anti-globalism “know-nothings”. I picture him in his butterfly costume dancing in the streets of Seattle or Genova or wherever the next G-8 convenes.

    Hollywood is making a movie of this mush. Need I say more?!

  • Jakeb,

    I don’t know if you need say more, but obviously you would like to close off the opportunity for any discussion or at least cut out any voices that dissent with your opinion.

    I agree with your point about the need for a show on NGOs and their grass-roots efforts. Also, expressing a disbelief of Mr. Perkins story is fine. But to label anyone who is against the harsher side of globalism as “know-nothings” just shows a lack of thoughtfulness on your part.

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  • Gizmo Logix

    >>>Winston Dodson wrote: You live in a world governed by the results of WWII…”

    The comment regarding WWII comparisons wasn’t because I wasn’t aware of what world we live in today (effect of WWII). But that you keep implying that *just like WWII” we will rearrange the Middle East the same way. And that I disagree with.

    Note that I can always say that the Civil War effected your life you life today. Just as the American revolution did. In a word. Duh! It’s all connected. But to use comparison of WWII to the situation in the Middle East is foolish. They are not the same.

    You reaffirmed MY POINT in the rest of you post when you referred to ways the Pentagon has been changed as well as the State Dept. and Homeland Security. That was my point. WWII analogies are not appropriate.

    Thomas P.M. Barnett’s PowerPoint Presentations are very familiar to me. And his points are very important! But the question is what and how to do? His ideas are valid in that there are dangers. But his views on what to do about them are not as valid as he believed before.

    Don’t believe me. Watch the interviews (CSPAN, Booknotes, Washington Journal and Charlie Rose) of Barnett in 2003 and then compare them to today’s interviews. He’s changed his recommendations. He’s much less sure of his recommendations. He’s not as gung-ho as you make him out to be. Not like he used to be. He knows that his old plans are not sustainable. I do not consider Barnett a radical. I like his demeanor. He even is very careful to not associate himself too much with this administration. I do consider him a public servant (even if he’s a private citizen now) regardless of who is in office.

  • Gizmo Logix

    >>>Winston Dodson: You may not like the way things work and may even pretend like you don’t understand>>>

    No, I do not like how things work. That’s because I KNOW how things work. It’s doing them, at the expense of your humanity that concern me.

    Remember, your life is just a fleeting moment in time. All you have his your conscience in the end.

    You pull the trigger; you’ve been trained to do so. Just make sure you use words like “enemy,” “target,” and “sector” so it will make you feel better.

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  • Fascinating show from the archives.

    Mallaby reminds me of journalist in the film The Act of Killing – he didn’t see it happen so it probably didn’t happen.
    Levine was the voice of reason.
    Boyce as the last angry man.
    Perkins was dope – serve it to us as a Hollywood movie !