He was perhaps the most decorated Major General in Marine Corps history.
In the early part of this century, he fought and killed for the United
States around the world.
Butler was awarded two Congressional Medals of Honor.
Then, when he returned to the United States he wrote a book titled War is
a Racket which opens with the memorable lines: "War is a racket. It
always has been."
"I was a high class muscleman for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the
Bankers," Butler said. "In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for
In a speech in 1933, Butler said the following:
"I helped make Mexico, especially Tampico, safe for American oil interests
in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City
Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen
Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. The record of
racketeering is long. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international
banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912. I brought light to the
Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. In China I helped
to see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested."
Smedley Butler, meet John Perkins.
Perkins has just written a book,
Confessions of an Economic Hit Man (Barrett Koehler, 2004).
It is the War is A Racket for our
Some of it is hard to believe.
You be the judge.
In 1968, after graduating from Boston
University, Perkins joined the Peace Corps and was sent to Ecuador. There,
he was recruited by the National Security Agency (NSA) and hired by an
international consulting firm, Chas. T. Main in Boston.
Soon after beginning his job in Boston, "I was contacted by a woman named
Claudine who became my trainer as an economic hit man."
Perkins assumed the woman worked for the NSA.
"She said she was sent to help me and to train me," Perkins said. "She is
extremely beautiful, sensual, seductive, intelligent. Her job was to
convince me to become an economic hit man, holding out these three drugs --
sex, drugs and money. And then she wanted to let me know that I was getting
into a dirty business. And I shouldn't go off on my first assignment, which
was going to be Indonesia, and start doing this unless I knew that I was
going to continue doing it, and once I was in I was in for life."
Perkins worked for Main from 1970 to 1980.
His job was to convince the governments of the third world countries and the
banks to make deals where huge loans were given to these countries to
develop infrastructure projects.
And a condition of the loan was that a large share of the money went back to
the big construction companies in the USA -- the Bechtels and Halliburtons.
The loans would plunge the countries into debts that would be impossible to
"The system is set up such that the countries are so deep in debt that they
can't repay their debt," Perkins said. "When the U.S. government wants
favors from them, like votes in the United Nations or troops in Iraq, or in
many, many cases, their resources, their oil, their canal, in the case of
Panama, we go to them and say: look, you can't pay off your debts, therefore
sell your oil at a very low price to our oil companies. Today, tremendous
pressure is being put on Ecuador, for example, to sell off its Amazonian
rainforest -- very precious, very fragile places, inhabited by indigenous
people whose cultures are being destroyed by the oil companies."
When a leader of a country refuses to cooperate with economic hit men like
Perkins, the jackals from the CIA are called in.
Perkins said that both Omar Torrijos of Panama and Jaime Boldos of Ecuador,
both men he worked with, refused to play the game with the U.S. and both
were cut down by the CIA -- Torrijos when his airplane blew up, and Roldos
when his helicopter exploded, within three months of each other in 1981.
If the CIA jackals don't do the job, then the U.S. Marines are sent in --
Butler's "racketeers for capitalism."
Perkins also gives lurid details of how he pimped for a Saudi prince in the
1970s, in an effort to get the Saudi royal family to enter an elaborate deal
in which the U.S. would protect the House of Saud. In exchange, the Saudis
agreed to stabilize oil prices and use their oil money to purchase Treasury
bonds, the interest on which would be used to pay U.S. construction firms
like Bechtel to build Saudi cities.
For years, Perkins wanted to stop being an economic hit man and write a
He quit Main in 1980, only to be lured back with megabucks as a consultant.
He testified in favor of the Seabrook Nuclear power plant ("my most infamous
assignment") in the 1980s, but the experience pushed him out of the
business, and he started an alternative energy firm. When word got out in
the 1990s that he was starting to write a tell-all book, he was approached
by the president of Stone & Webster, a big engineering firm.
Over seven years, Stone & Webster paid Perkins $500,000 to do nothing.
"At that first meeting, the president of the company mentioned some of the
books that I had written about indigenous people and said: that's nice,
that's fine, keep doing your non-profit work," Perkins told us. "We approve
of that, but you certainly would never write about this industry, would you?
And I assured him that I wouldn't."
Perkins assumes the money was a bribe to get him not to write the book.
But he has written the book.
You be the judge.
is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Corporate Crime Reporter,
is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Multinational Monitor,
http://www.multinationalmonitor.org. They are co-authors of
Corporate Predators: The Hunt for MegaProfits and the Attack on Democracy
(Monroe, Maine: Common Courage Press;
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