Book Review: Confessions of an Economic Hitman

 Confessions of an Economic Hitman hit the literary scene in 2004 as a controversial but highly acclaimed work. In Confessions, John Perkins tells his nearly 30-year-old story about hit job as what he called an “economic hit man”, or “EHM.” Perkins relays the circumstances surrounding his entry into the position of an EHM and takes the reader through a spy-like narrative of his interactions with various countries concluding with his exit out of the position and his inner conflict about telling his story. Perkins’ book poses many interesting questions and challenges about the world economic stage, “coporatocracy,” the nature of the United States’ foreign relations, and links between exploitative economic activity and hatred toward the U.S. Perkins’ book leaves a lot to be explained, researched, and proven, but it does provide an important entry point into further investigation of the propositions he puts forth. While some have quickly adopted Confessions and its allegations as infallible truth, and while I do believe the book offers threads of truth throughout many issues, I am left wary of the full credulity of Perkins’ conclusions as well as his interpretation of what really happened.

Perkins describes his work as an EHM as that of a highly paid professional who travels around the world cheating other countries out of trillions of dollar using sex, deception, payoffs, bogus financial reports, bribery, and anything else that is necessary to get other countries to be forever indebted to the U.S. He does this by creating financial plans convincing these countries to take loans from the U.S. that in actuality they will never be able to pay off in order to funnel that money back into the U.S.’s economy. He considers this a march toward a global empire and propagates that the U.S. government exploits people in order to guarantee its global imperialism. Perkins argues that, though we have been taught to believe that capitalism and this approach is helping the majority of people, after a decade of working as an EHM and 30 more years in other global work, in actuality the system helps a few at the expense and exploitation of many.

While Confessions was an interesting read and inspired me to dig deeper into the startling issues Perkins presents, overall I find Perkins hard to take seriously. I did not find the book to have solid support, nor did it read as a credible, backed-up reliable source but rather one man’s speculation on vaguely explained events driven by his overstated guilty conscience. The lack of actual proof or examples of what he did leave room for question of what his actual work. I am also left to question Perkins’ reliability given the fact that after 10 years of lying and continuing his work despite his guilty conscience he so easily declined exposing the “truth” with one bribe after another. It makes me question just how sure he himself is of what he claims is the terrible truth—is it really that terrible? If he believed it was true and his guilty conscience was that great, would he not have felt a much more urgent need to tell it 30 years ago? His claim that 9/11 was the last straw because of his part in it seems a weak connection that is possible, but unproven. That is how I view most of the events Perkins’ explains—they are plausible, but not proven, and it will take much more that his interpretation alone without superior support or other testimonies to convince me that he was actually employed by the government, that the U.S. government is actually cheating and exploiting all these countries, and that a chunk of terrorism and assassinations in the past 40 years are inside jobs. Plausible? Yes, if far-fetched. Proven? Hardly.

 

Perkins writes from his own bias, as any person would. I do not discredit his story, and as I said before it causes me to think and desire to search deeper and find out if in fact Perkins’ interpretation is actual truth. If it is, then that drastically changes many things. But until that is proven, I am unwilling to let one book dictate my whole view of the government. Confessions is a necessary book to read; that being said, I think any person who reads it should do further research and make their decision after consulting many sources of various biases. Anyone who wants to find reason to hate the U.S. government and attribute terrorism and the world hate of the U.S. to be our government’s fault will certainly find their expectation fulfilled, but if read critically, Confessions leaves many questions left unexplained, or at best, vaguely elucidated.

Despite the uncertainty of its credulity, Confessions is a book worth reading for anyone interested in the economic and the political scenes with a touch of adventure, for it does provide much food for thought and many valid, important thoughts. Perkins sheds light on the global scene that is so ignorantly misunderstood by American people. His call for awareness and taking action on behalf of the millions of starving people is a valiant effort that cries for a response. His theme of exploitation of the underprivileged, while perhaps over-generalized and wrongly attributed, does expose the under-acknowledged fact that in the corporate world often exploitation does take place and often people benefit at the cost of another. But Perkins’ implications and allegations against the U.S. government, and particularly again the Republican administrations of the past 40 years, regarding exploitation, hiring of these EHMs, and terrorism/assasinations are unwarranted, unproven, and a stretch beyond believable. In conclusion, Confessions is a starting point in exploring the true workings of U.S. economics and foreign affairs but should not, by any means, be the end point.