This week Henri give us an analysis of his "light" weekend reading with a review of John Perkins' The Secret History of the American Empire. He calls it
John Perkins and Caesar
If you have ever wondered what it was like to live in the time of Christ you may have been interested enough to read a little of the history of the Roman Empire. Imperial might reached its longest lasting pinnacle in recorded human history starting around that time. The might of that empire has long faded but its works still are visible over much of the Continent where it was born. Is this Republic going the way of the Roman Republic which preceded the Empire? Are we becoming a modern version of Rome?
I think it is unlikely after reading several books promoting that point of view. Most of them were thoughtful and insightful but it is a false premise that defines their argument. In the power of the corporations that define our economic empire, if the word even fits this model, there is a whole new thing altering the face of this planet. Whether the corporate model should be used in building a human social and economic system, and whether it is good or evil, remains to be seen. What is clearly true is that it is not built on either the Roman model or even the colonial model of the British Empire. Imperial power is less the issue than raw economic force in this world.
John Perkins, author of Confessions of an Economic Hit Man" and his new book, The Secret History of the American Empire, comes down on the side of the argument that points out the evils in the system. While it would be impossible to argue about the evils of some of the actions he writes about it is also hard to swallow whole the imperial construct he sees operating here.
I give this latest book a good rating because it could wake up a few people who have not traveled extensively in the poorer nations. The argument that we as a nation are the author of much of the misery that is engendered there is even easy to follow. But that argument is erroneous in that it is ascribing the power to the USA to alter that piece of the world very much for the better or worse by manipulating corporations. Those corporations are manipulating every government on earth at this point in history. Ours is no exception. The difference here is that we can take back our power over our government if we are willing to pay the attention to politics that such an act requires.
The issue of Imperial power versus corporate power needs to be addressed in every nation on earth. The power of corporate interests transcends any nation state's power in the world we live in today. We started forming governments to protect us from the tribe down the block as much as any one thing. If there were any litanies being said today they might include the plea to God, "From the power of the corporate raiders oh Lord deliver us." Part of the financial mess in this country is due to the chaos engendered by diverse corporate interests hijacking our government and using it as a tool for increasing their power.
I do recommend this latest book and hope that it doesn't depress you too much. It has that capacity but it also makes some good points and has some honest statements about the perversion of power and the capacity to create wealth when it is not used for the benefit of humanity. Do read it if you have the stomach it requires.
The Publishers' analysis follows:
Riveting expose of international corruption-and what we can do about it, from the author of Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, which spent over a year on the New York Times bestseller list. In his stunning memoir, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, John Perkins detailed his former role as an "economic hit man" in the international corporate skullduggery of a de facto American Empire. This riveting, behind-the-scenes expose unfolded like a cinematic blockbuster told through the eyes of a man who once helped shape that empire.
Now, in The Secret History of the American Empire, Perkins zeroes in on hot spots around the world and, drawing on interviews with other hit men, jackals, reporters, and activists, examines the current geopolitical crisis. Instability is the norm: It's clear that the world we've created is dangerous and no longer sustainable. How did we get here? Who's responsible? What good have we done and at what cost? And what can we do to change things for the next generations? Addressing these questions and more, Perkins reveals the secret history behind the events that have created the American Empire, including: * The current Latin-American revolution and its lessons for democracy * How the "defeats" in Vietnam and Iraq benefited big business * The role of Israel as "Fortress America" in the Middle East * Tragic repercussions of the IMF's "Asian Economic Collapse" * U.S. blunders in Tibet, Congo, Lebanon, and Venezuela * Jackal (CIA operatives) forays to assassinate democratic presidents.
From the U.S. military in Iraq to infrastructure development in Indonesia, from Peace Corps volunteers in Africa to jackals in Venezuela, Perkins exposes a conspiracy of corruption that has fueled instability and anti-Americanism around the globe. Alarming yet hopeful, this book provides a compassionate plan to reimagine our world.