Telling it like it is

Amy Goodman, John Perkins, Mark Bruzonsky

they don't soft-pedal the truth

March 18, 2005

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      In her program Democracy Now on Pacifica Radio, Amy Goodman on November 9, 2004 interviewed John Perkins, whose book Confessions of an Economic Hitman: How the U.S. Uses Globalization to Cheat Poor Countries Out of Trillions, was published that month.

      Four months later, Perkins’ bestselling book finally couldn’t be ignored by PBS and he was interviewed by David Brancaccio on the PBS NOW program on March 4, 2005. I learned about the Brancaccio interview from Mark Bruzonsky, who included the interview transcript on his Middle East Realities e-mail on Mar 8. Here’s one key part of it:

John Perkins: ... 9/11 was just symbolic of a tremendous amount of anger around the world. And we in the United States ... are not aware of that. September 11th made us somewhat aware of it although I think we've really covered that aspect of it over. We say this is a rogue terrorist.

David Brancaccio: Or that it's based in sort of religious passion. Or that it's something about Saudi Arabia in particular. This isn't really about the United States and its international relations. That's the argument.

John Perkins: That's the argument. But in fact, if you go to Catholic countries in South America, you'll see that Osama bin Laden is a hero amongst a lot of people. He's on billboards. He's on T-shirts. It's very unfortunate that this mass murderer has become the symbol of a David who is standing up to a Goliath. The way they see it. He's like a Robin Hood to many people.

Twenty-four thousand people die every day from lack of nutrition. Thirty thousand children die every single day from – diseases for which we have cures. For which we have medicines. And that shouldn't be happening. It doesn't need to happen. That's over 50,000 people every single day dying terrible, painful, awful, needless deaths. So 3,000 at the World Trade Center was atrocious, terrible; 200,000 or whatever [from] the tsunami is atrocious and terrible. And they make the news. But these 50,000 plus that die every single day needlessly, don't ever make the news. And their families and the people in those countries are very angry. Because we could prevent that. And in fact, our policies and especially many of our corporate policies, foster those kinds of conditions that create situations where those people are dying of lack of nutrition and lack of medicines. (emphasis added)

David Brancaccio: There will be Americans who reflect on this and say look we tried to share the wealth and for whatever reason, it came to naught.

John Perkins: We didn't try to share the wealth. We Americans believe that that's what we're doing. We're a good hearted compassionate people. But the fact of the matter ...

      Who is John Perkins? How knowledgeable is he? Mark Bruzonsky included the following brief preface to the transcript:

“John Perkins was recruited by the National Security Agency during his last year at Boston University's School of Business Administration, 1968. He spent the next three years in the Peace Corps in South America and then in 1971 joined the international consulting firm of Chas. T. Main, a Boston-based company of 2000 employees that kept a very low profile. As Chief Economist and Director of Economics and Regional Planning at Chas. T. Main, Perkins says his primary job was to convince Less Developed Countries (LDCs) around the world to accept multibillion dollar loans for infrastructure projects and to see to it that most of this money ended up at Main, Bechtel, Halliburton, Brown and Root, and other U.S. engineering/construction companies. The loans left the recipient countries wallowing in debt and highly vulnerable to outside political and commercial interests. He documents his experience in the New York Times bestseller Confessions of an Economic Hitman.”

      Amy Goodman’s interview is, as expected, far more incisive and penetrating than David Brancaccio’s. It’s at The Brancaccio interview, well worth reading for its contrast with that of Goodman, is at

      I was introduced to Mark Bruzonsky’s work by Bill Templer, the Chicago-born Israeli whose essay “Contemplating the Tsunami” I posted last month, at By now I’ve been reading Bruzonsky’s fairly frequent e-mail dispatches for perhaps two months. Although his main emphasis is on the Middle East, and explicitly the Israel-U.S. connection and its impact on the region, his arena of interest is global. I find him valuable. He pulls no punches. His site is at

—G.S., March 18, 2005

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Last update of this page: March 18, 2005