How ‘economic hit men’ conspire to impoverish the Third World with aid
By JOHN MBARIA
As Kenyans enter into a national dialogue on whether we can do without the West should Uhuru Kenyatta win the presidency, everyone ought to read a book that reveals how the West, the Bretton Woods institutions and giant multinationals take everyone for a ride so that they can rake in billions of dollars generated in the developing world.
It is a book you can never find in Kenya. But the shocking, best-selling gem ought to be read by everyone, particularly those who have been harping loudest on the great mercies of donors.
The moment you are through the Confessions of an Economic Hit Man by John Perkins, you will look at the “donor world’ through a different prism.
For Perkins tells a convincing story of his own inner struggles as he graduated from a willing servant of big capital to a crusading advocate for the rights of oppressed people in developing countries.
Though the man was recruited by the US National Security Agency, he was also on the payroll of an international consulting firm which enabled him to tour of Iran, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Panama, Colombia, Ecuador, Colombia and other countries.
His job was to implement policies that promoted the interests of what he terms “corporatocracy” – an unholy alliance of the US Government, banks, and other corporations. As he did this, he was expected to make high-sounding but deceptive noises about tackling poverty in the relevant countries.
Published in 2004, the book gives an unforgettable insight into the sneaky world of the “unseen” men who gang up with political, business and religious elites in developing countries to snatch away the very basis upon which poor people depend for survival.
In a startling confession, Perkins reveals that his work was to convince the political and financial leaders in the relevant countries to accept huge loans from the World Bank, USAid and other organisations. And most of the elite would go along as long as their cut was assured.
Such leaders would grow immensely rich from kickbacks and amass political power particularly because unsuspecting masses ended up crediting them with initiating industries, highways, power plants, airports and dams. But their countries would end up with debts they could never hope to pay.
Together with other “economic hit men”, Perkins helped to bankrupt such countries by making them remain greatly indebted.
Consequently, the countries would become so vulnerable that they would readily accept such demands as dishing out military bases, voting along with the West in the UN, and giving the West unfettered access to natural resources.
However, as the countries struggled to repay the debts, they would greatly impoverish their people since they cannot finance basic health services, education and other public amenities.
On its part, the international media would be deployed to portray the same enslaving projects as acts of generosity on the part of the West.
Perkins describes “economic hit men” as extremely bright, highly-paid professionals who transfer the cash loaned to poor countries by the World Bank and other “aid” agencies into the accounts of big-time corporations and the pockets of a few wealthy families who control much of the world’s natural resources.
To do this, the corporations employ fraudulent and highly optimistic financial reports and projections, rigged elections, payoffs, extortion, sex, and murder. “They play a game as old as empire, but one that has taken on new and terrifying dimensions during this time of globalization”.
After playing his part in the grand manipulative schemes for years, Perkins could not handle his conscience. He went into inner struggles especially after realising that he was a vital cog in it. When he came face-to-face with its victims, guilt overwhelmed him; he got depressed and quit his job in 1980.
Unfortunately for us in developing countries, this grand deception did not end after Perkins published his book. It is a scheme that is so well-crafted that the victim becomes dependent on it and often begs those behind it to continue stealing.
It is no wonder then that most Kenyans would not hear of breaking the shackles of “donor” dependency even when it is crystal clear that there is very little to show for it in the way of tangible, long-term development.
enyans ought to know that when “donors” give a shilling, they take away a billion!
Mr Mbaria writes on development and environmental issues (firstname.lastname@example.org)