Sunday, January 20, 2008

Kevin Barrett Interviews the Economic Hitman

Quite a while ago I made a post on my Chief Brief blog on the book, Confessions of an Economic Hitman by John Perkins, and was not too impressed. It seemed too much like the non-fact based anti-globalist paranoia, that I now know as part of the 9/11 truth movement. Perkins, although a hero of the troofer sect, has not specifically endorsed their claims, but now he is getting more familiar with them, after being interviewed by Kevin Barrett on one of his radio shows.

Perkins, as is apparent in his book, shares the paranoid view that the US is the focus of evil in the world, as he describes his nonsensical "techniques".

Perkins: We work many different ways, but perhaps the most common one is that we will identify a third world country that has resources our corporations covet like oil, and then arrange a huge loan to that country from the World Bank or one of its sisters, but the money doesn’t actually go to the country, instead it goes to one of our own corporations, US corporations which build big infrastructure projects, in that country, power plants, roads, industrial parks, things that our companies that build those projects, and a few wealthy people, but don’t help the poor people at all, a majority of the population, the people who don’t use very much electricity if any, and don’t have the skills to get jobs in industrial parks, don’t use highways or ports .

Now I am certainly not one to defend the efficiency of the international development process, but the idea that poor people don't use roads or electricity is just bizarre. Even more ironic, he spends much of the rest of the interview denouncing the exploitation of poor third world workers, those very workers he claims don't get jobs at industrial parks.

Later, Barrett and Perkins share a similar view of the United States, as Perkins apparently agrees with Barrett's "worse than Hitler" outlook:

Barrett: You make a charge that a lot of folks would find extreme, but I certainly don’t though, when you say that the “US empire has enslaved more people, its policies and actions have resulted in more deaths than those under the regimes of Rome, Spain, Portugal, France, England or Holland, or at the hands of Stalin and Hitler. And yet these crimes go almost unnoticed. Disguised in the ropes of eloquent rhetoric “

His most bizarre claim was actually covered a while ago in a blog post by Pat, but he extends the claim here:

Perkins: So I went off to Saudi Arabia [after the OPEC oil embargo] and we eventually struck this deal, that is a long story, and the longer version is in the book, the short version is that we get the Saudis to agree to send basically most of the money that they make selling oil to the world, their petro-dollars back to the United States, invest it in US government securities, the interest from those securities would be given to the US treasury department , this has amounted to trillions of dollars, the US treasury would use that money to hire US corporations to westernize Saudi Arabia, build petro-chemical complexes, desalinization plants, industrial complexes, etc.

Setting aside how silly it is to think that the Saudis would just let us force them to let us steal all the interest, the claim that this reached into the trillions is absurd. We are getting into Leo Wanta territory here. Just for perspective, according to the US treasury, $127 billion in US treasuries are held by foreign countries in the "oil exporters" category. This includes 15 different countries, but even if we assume that a full half of this is owned by Saudi Arabia, at an average 5% interest rate (a 10 year note is currently yielding just 3.6%, but they certainly have been higher in the past) it would take over 300 years to pay out over a trillion dollars of interest, much less many trillions over the past 30 years. Keep in mind that this guy claims to be an expert in international finance, not just someone who wrote a book on the subject.

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