Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Clinton the Economic Hit Man? Not!

John Perkins’ The Confessions of an Economic Hit Man provides a chilling account of supposedly real-life cloak and dagger escapades involving private US companies and sovereign nations around the world. The account specifically outlines the manner in which the “corporatocracy” strong-arms third-world leaders into ordering goods and services from US businesses and in the process these poor nations build up huge debt which the citizenry must re-pay with cheap labor or by sacrificing their country’s natural resources to US companies. If the leaders refuse, then they are murdered, according to Perkins. He cites specific examples in Panama and Chile where democratically elected leaders (Torrijos and Allende, respectively) refused to acquiesce to the demands of the US companies and met their hasty demise under suspicious circumstances.

Perkins insinuates that these men were murdered so that despots friendly to US businesses could be inserted: Noriega in Panama and Pinochet in Chile. Both of these puppets were militarily backed by the US and their iron-fisted rule ensured that populist memes that promoted social programs and national interest were ignored. Similar activities supposedly occurred in Iran in the 1950’s when the democratically elected Mossedegh was dethroned in favor of the US-backed Shah, who proceeded to clamp down on his people’s liberties in order to provide oil for the US.

Perkin’s scenario follows the money to Republican administration officials, namely George Schultz, Henry Kissinger, Casper Weinberger, Richard Cheney, George H. W. Bush, among others specifically named in the book that were closely allied or employed by US companies such as Carlyle, Bechtel and Halliburton from the 1970’s to the present. Perkins may be inaccurate, but that’s what he says. In each instance, Perkins clearly alleges a cause-and-effect relationship between the extortion and/or murder of a third-world leader, and the profitability of one of those, or another, US companies. Without making any specific accusations, I’ll add that those same companies are currently enjoying record profits supplying war materiel and re-building supplies as a direct consequence of dubious policies set forth by the current presidential administration. Coincidence? Perhaps.

When I read books such as John Perkins’ I do see correlations with Perkins’ vignettes and the foreign policy as orchestrated by George W. Bush’s administration. Not one of us can know if Perkins’ account is truthful or merely self-serving hyperbole, but if we assume his memoir can be taken as face value, then we can see a likely correlation with current Republican administration officials who have very close links to both the “corporatocracy” and our foreign policy. One could even take the baby step to see that perhaps our foreign policy has been “fixed around” the interests of the military-industrial complex which is linked to Bush officials.

One friend of mine has made the grand leap to assume that “all Presidents, even Clinton, but probably not Carter” have engaged in similar activity. This is a corollary to the Starr Principle: If somebody has done something wrong, then Bill Clinton must have done it, too. I respectfully disagree, and further find his logic of accusing one Democrat but not the other an example of speculation in its purest form. I maintain that the onus is not on anyone to prove Clinton’s innocence; rather the onus is on his accusers to provide evidence of his complicity in the barbaric overthrow of foreign nations for his personal gain or the profitability of a company to which he is closely allied or employed, as outlined in Perkins’ book. Perkins does give us his eyewitness account that implicates previous and current Republican White House officials in alleged criminal activity.

Clinton has no doubt committed many sins. We all have. Has Clinton (legally) taken money from lobbyists associated with China? Yes. Has Clinton allowed our nuclear secrets to be stolen by the Chinese? Some say so. Has Clinton perjured himself to a federal grand jury? That was the judgment. But the question at hand is: Has Clinton murdered democratically elected leaders of less-developed countries to line his own pockets? A resounding NO! Not even the wildest wingnut has ever made reputable claims that Clinton engaged in tactics as outlined in the Perkins book. Bill may have killed Vince Foster, but he never laid a hand on Hugo Chavez. Ironically, many of Clinton’s detractors have argued that he was too uninvolved in Latin America. The conservative think tank, American Enterprise Institute, scolded Clinton for his lack of promotion of US businesses and inability to expand NAFTA into Central and South America. (NAFTA and trade proposals figure into Perkins’ theme, but the issue is more convoluted, and may be detailed later.)

So, let’s review our discussion. Perkins makes accusations and names specific people that he claims have conspired to overthrow sovereign nations for personal financial gain. These same people are either currently serving in Bush’s administration, have close ties to current government officials or have financial relationships with US companies doing business with our government. I know of no similarly close ties in the Clinton administration. If someone knows of any, I'm open to references.

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