J Perkins Re his book Confessions of an Economic Hitman



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Confessions of an Economic Hitman
by John Perkins


The New Confessions of an Economic Hitman
by John Perkins

by John Perkins

An Economic Hit Man Confesses and Calls to Action | John Perkins | TEDxTraverseCity

TEDx Talks

Published on Jun 24, 2016

John Perkins describes the methods he used to bribe and threaten the heads of state of countries on four continents in order to create a global empire and he reveals how the leaders who did not “play the game" were assassinated or overthrown. He brings us up to date about the way the economic hit man system has spread from developing countries to the US, Europe, and the rest of the world and offers a strategy for turning this around. “Each of us," he says, “can participate in this exciting revolution. We can transform a system that is consuming itself into extinction into one that is sustainable and regenerative." John's books, including The New Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, have sold over a million copies, spent more than 70 weeks on the New York Times bestseller lists, and are published in more than 30 languages. As Chief Economist at a major consulting firm, his experiences advising the World Bank, UN, IMF, U.S. government, Fortune 500 corporations, and heads of state convinced him to devote his life to facilitating changes in social, political, and economic systems, as well as in general consciousness. He was founder and CEO of a highly successful alternative energy company and is a founder and board member of Dream Change and The Pachamama Alliance, nonprofits dedicated to creating a sustainable, just, peaceful, and thriving world. John's courage in writing his books and speaking out against his former bosses exemplifies the courage shown by our Founding Fathers and Mothers when they stood up to the British Empire. Like them, John defied threats and bribes and took action. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at


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 Confessions of an Economic Hitman


J Perkins

PART I : 1963—197 1 1 An Economic Hit Man Is Born

3 2 "In for Life" 12

3/ Indonesia: Lessons for an EHM 20

4 Saving a Country from Communism 2 3

5 Selling My Soul 2 8 PART II : 1971—197 5

PART II : 1971—197 5

6 My Role as Inquisitor 3 7

7 Civilization on Trial 4 2

8 Jesus, Seen Differently 47

9 Opportunity of a Lifetime 52

10 Panama's President and Hero 5 8

11 Pirates in the Canal Zone 63

12 Soldiers and Prostitutes 6 7

13 Conversations with the General 7 1

14 Entering a New and Sinister Period in Economic History 7

15 The Saudi Arabian Money-laundering Affair 8 1

16 Pimping, and Financing Osama bin Laden 9 3

PART III : 1975—198 1

17 Panama Canal Negotiations and Graham Greene 101

18 Iran's King of Kings 108

19 Confessions of a Tortured Man 11 3

20 The Fall of a King 117

21 Colombia: Keystone of Latin America 120

22 American Republic versus Global Empire 124

23 The Deceptive Resume 131

24 Ecuador's President Battles Big Oil 141

25 I Quit 146



26 Ecuador's Presidential Death 153

27 Panama: Another Presidential Death 158

28 My Energy Company, Enron, and George W. Bush 162

29 I Take a Bribe 167

30 The United States Invades Panama 173

31 An EHM Failure in Iraq 182

32 September 11 and its Aftermath for Me, Personally 189

33 Venezuela: Saved by Saddam 196

34 Ecuador Revisited 203

35 Piercing the Veneer 211

Epilogue 221

John Perkins Personal History 226

Notes 230

Index 240

About the Author 248

Economic hit men (EHMs) are highly paid professionals who cheat countries around the globe out of trillions of dollars. They funnel money from the World Bank, the U.S. Agency for International Development ( USAID), and other foreign "aid" organizations into the coffers of huge corporations and the pockets of a few wealthy families who control the planet's natural resources. Their tools include fraudulent financial reports, rigged elections, pay() s, extortion, sex, and murder. They play a game as old as empire, but one that has taken on new and terrifying dimensions during this time of globalization. I should know; I was an EHM

I wrote that in 1982, as the beginning of a book with the working title, Conscience of an Economic Hit Man . The book was dedicated to the presidents of two countries, men who had been my clients , whom I respected and thought of as kindred spirits -- Jaime Roldos , president of Ecuador, and Omar Torrijos, president of Panama . Both had just died in fiery crashes. Their deaths were not accidental . They were assassinated because they opposed that fraternity of corporate , government, and banking heads whose goal is global empire . We EHMs failed to bring Roldos and Torrijos around, and the other type of hit men, the CIA-sanctioned jackals who were always right behind us, stepped in.

I was persuaded to stop writing that book. I started it four more times during the next twenty years. On each occasion, my decision to begin again was influenced by current world events : the U.S. invasion of Panama in 1989, the first Gulf War, Somalia, the rise of Osama bin Laden. However, threats or bribes always convinced me to stop . In 2003, the president of a major publishing house that is owned by a powerful international corporation read a draft of what had now become Confessions of an Economic Hit Man. He described it viii Confessions of an Economic Hit Man as "a riveting story that needs to be told."

Then he smiled sadly, shook his head, and told me that since the executives at world head - quarters might object, he could not afford to risk publishing it . He advised me to fictionalize it. "We could market you in the mold of a novelist like John Le Carre or Graham Greene ." But this is not fiction . It is the true story of my life . A more coura - geous publisher, one not owned by an international corporation, ha s agreed to help me tell it .

This story must be told. We live in a time of terrible crisis — and tremendous opportunity. The story of this particular economic hit man is the story of how we got to where we are and why we currently face crises that seem insurmountable . This story must be told because only by understanding our past mistakes will we be able t o take advantage of future opportunities ; because 9/11 happened and so did the second war in Iraq ; because in addition to the three thou - sand people who died on September 11, 2001, at the hands of terrorists, another twenty-four thousand died from hunger and related causes. In fact, twenty-four thousand people die every single day because they are unable to obtain life-sustaining food.  Most importantly, this story must be told because today, for the first time in history, one nation has the ability, the money, and the power to change all this. It is the nation where I was born and the one I serve d as an EHM: the United States of America.

What finally convinced me to ignore the threats and bribes?

The short answer is that my only child, Jessica, graduated from college and went out into the world on her own. When I recently told her that I was considering publishing this book and shared my fears with her, she said, "Don't worry, dad. If they get you, I'll take over where you left off. We need to do this for the grandchildren I hope to give you someday!" That is the short answer.

The longer version relates to my dedication to the country wher e I was raised, to my love of the ideals expressed by our Founding Fathers, to my deep commitment to the American republic that today promises "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" for all people , everywhere, and to my determination after 9/11 not to sit idly by any longer while EHMs turn that republic into a global empire . That is the skeleton version of the long answer; the flesh and blood are added in the chapters that follow.

This is a true story. I lived every minute of it. The sights, the people, the conversations, and the feelings I describe were all a part of my life. It is my personal story, and yet it happened within the large r context of world events that have shaped our history, have brough t us to where we are today, and form the foundation of our children's futures. I have made every effort to present these experiences, people , and conversations accurately. Whenever I discuss historical event s or re-create conversations with other people, I do so with the help of several tools: published documents; personal records and notes; recollections — my own and those of others who participated ; the five manuscripts I began previously ; and historical accounts by other authors, most notably recently published ones that disclose information that formerly was classified or otherwise unavailable . References are provided in the end notes, to allow interested readers t o pursue these subjects in more depth. In some cases, I combine several dialogues I had with a person into one conversation to facilitate the flow o the narrative.

My publisher asked whether we actually referred to ourselves a s economic hit men. I assured him that we did, although usually only by the initials. In fact, on the day in 1971 when I began working with my teacher Claudine, she informed me, "My assignment is to mold you into an economic hit man. No one can know about your involvement — not even your wife?' Then she turned serious. "Once you're in, you're in for life ."

Claudine's role is a fascinating example of the manipulation that underlies the business I had entered. Beautiful and intelligent, sh e was highly effective ; she understood my weaknesses and used the m to her greatest advantage . Her job and the way she executed it exemplify the subtlety of the people behind this system .

Claudine pulled no punches when describing what I would b e called upon to do . My job, she said, was "to encourage world leaders to become part of a vast network that promotes U .S. commercial interests. In the end, those leaders become ensnared in a web of deb t that ensures their loyalty. We can draw on them whenever we desire — to satisfy our political, economic, or military needs. In turn, they bolster their political positions by bringing industrial parks, power plants, and airports to their people . The owners of U.S. engineering/construction companies become fabulously wealthy ."

Today we see the results of this system run amok. Executives at our most respected companies hire people at near-slave wages t o x Confessions of an Economic Hit Man Preface xi toil under inhuman conditions in Asian sweatshops. Oil companie s wantonly pump toxins into rain forest rivers, consciously killin g people, animals, and plants, and committing genocide among ancient cultures. The pharmaceutical industry denies lifesaving medicines to millions of HIV-infected Africans . Twelve million families in our owm United States worry about their next meal . 2 The energy industry creates an Enron. The accounting industry creates an Andersen. The income ratio of the one-fifth of the world's population in the wealthiest countries to the one-fifth in the poorest went from 30 to 1 in 1960 to 74 to 1 in 1995. 3 The United States spends over $87 bil - lion conducting a war in Iraq while the United Nations estimate s that for less than half that amount we could provide clean water, adequate diets, sanitation services, and basic education to every person on the planet. 4

And we wonder why terrorists attack us ?

Some would blame our current problems on an organized conspiracy. I wish it were so simple . Members of a conspiracy can be rooted out and brought to justice . This system, however, is fueled by something far more dangerous than conspiracy. It is driven not by a small band of men but by a concept that has become accepted as gospel : the idea that all economic growth benefits humankind an d that the greater the growth, the more widespread the benefits . This belief also has a corollary : that those people who excel at stoking the fires of economic growth should be exalted and rewarded, while those born at the fringes are available for exploitation .

The concept is, of course, erroneous . We know that in many countries economic growth benefits only a small portion of the population and may in fact result in increasingly desperate circumstance s for the majority. This effect is reinforced by the corollary belief that the captains of industry who drive this system should enjoy a special status, a belief that is the root of many of our current problems and is perhaps also the reason why conspiracy theories abound . When men and women are rewarded for greed, greed becomes a corrupting motivator. When we equate the gluttonous consumption of the earth's resources with a status approaching sainthood, when w e teach our children to emulate people who live unbalanced lives, an d when we define huge sections of the population as subservient to a n elite minority, we ask for trouble. And we get it.

In their drive to advance the global empire, corporations, banks, and governments (collectively the corporatocracy) use their financial and political muscle to ensure that our schools, businesses, and media support both the fallacious concept and its corollary . They have brought us to a point where our global culture is a monstrous ma - chine that requires exponentially increasing amounts of fuel and maintenance, so much so that in the end it will have consume d everything in sight and will be left with no choice but to devour itself

The corporatocracy is not a conspiracy, but its members do endorse common values and goals. One of corporatocracy's most im - portant functions is to perpetuate and continually expand an d strengthen the system. The lives of those who "make it," and their accoutrements — their mansions, yachts, and private jets — are presented as models to inspire us all to consume, consume, consume . Every opportunity is taken to convince us that purchasing things is our civiN uty, that pillaging the earth is good for the economy an d therefore serves our higher interests. People like me are paid outrageously high salaries to do the system's bidding. If we falter, a mor e malicious form of hit man, the jackal, steps to the plate. And if the jackal fails, then the job falls to the military.

This book is the confession of a man who, back when I was a n EHM, was part of a relatively small group . People who play similar roles are more abundant now. They have more euphemistic titles, and they walk the corridors of Monsanto, General Electric, Nike , General Motors, WalMart, and nearly every other major corporation in the world. In a very real sense, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man is their story as well as mine

It is your story too, the story of your world and mine, of the firs t truly global empire . History tells us that unless we modify this story, it is guaranteed to end tragically . Empires never last . Every one of them has failed terribly. They destroy many cultures as they race toward greater domination, and then they themselves fall . No country or combination of countries can thrive in the long term by exploiting others.

This book was written so that we may take heed and remold our story. I am certain that when enough of us become aware of how we are being exploited by the economic engine that creates an insatiabl e appetite for the world's resources, and results in systems that foste r slavery, we will no longer tolerate it. We will reassess our role in a world where a few swim in riches and the majority drown in poverty, pollution, and violence . We will commit ourselves to navigating a course toward compassion, democracy, and social justice for all .

 Admitting to a problem is the first step toward finding a solution . Confessing a sin is the beginning of redemption . Let this book, then, be the start of our salvation . Let it inspire us to new levels of dedication and drive us to realize our dream of balanced and honorabl e societies.

Without the many people whose lives I shared and who are de - scribed in the following pages, this book would not have been written . I am grateful for the experiences and the lessons .

 Beyond them, I thank the people who encouraged me to go ou t on a limb and tell my story : Stephan Rechtschaffen, Bill and Lynne Twist, Ann Kemp, Art Roffey, so many of the people who participated in Dream Change trips and workshops, especially my cofacilitators, Eve Bruce, Lyn Roberts-Herrick, and Mary Tendall, an d my incredible wife and partner of twenty-five years, Winifred, an d our daughter Jessica .

I am grateful to the many men and women who provided personal insights and information about the multinational banks , international corporations, and political innuendos of various countries, with special thanks to Michael Ben-Eli, Sabrina Bologni, Jua n Gabriel Carrasco, Jamie Grant, Paul Shaw, and several others, who wish to remain anonymous but who know who you are .

Once the manuscript was written, Berrett-Koehler founder Steve n Piersanti not only had the courage to take me in but also devote d endless hours as a brilliant editor, helping me to frame and refram e the hook. My deepest thanks go to Steven, to Richard Perl, who introduced me to him, and also to Nova Brown, Randi Fiat, Allen Jones , Chris Lee, Jennifer Liss, Laurie Pellouchoud, and Jenny Williams , who read and critiqued the manuscript ; to David Korten, who no t only read and critiqued it but also made me jump through hoops t o satisfy his high and excellent standards; to Paul Fedorko, my agent ; to Valerie Brewster for crafting the book design ; and to Todd Manza, my copy editor, a wordsmith and philosopher extraordinaire .

A special word of gratitude to Jeevan Sivasubramanian, Berrett - Koehler's managing editor, and to Ken Lupoff, Rick Wilson, Maria Jesus Aguilo, Pat Anderson, Marina Cook, Michael Crowley, Robi n Donovan, Kristen Frantz, Tiffany Lee, Catherine Lengronne, Diann e Platner — all the BK staff who recognize the need to raise consciousness and who work tirelessly to make this world a better place . I must thank all those men and women who worked with me at MAIN and were unaware of the roles they played in helping EHM shape the global empire ; I especially thank the ones who worked for me and with whom I traveled to distant lands and shared so man y precious moments. Also Ehud Sperling and his staff at Inner Traditions International, publisher of my earlier books on indigenous cul tures and shamanism, and good friends who set me on this path a s an author. I am eternally grateful to the men and women who took me int o their homes in the jungles, deserts, and mountains, in the cardboard shacks along the canals of Jakarta, and in the slums of countless cities around the world, who shared their food and their lives wit h me and who have been my greatest source of inspiration .

John Perkins August 2004


Quito, Ecuador's capital, stretches across a volcanic valley high i n the Andes, at an altitude of nine thousand feet . Residents of this city, which was founded long before Columbus arrived in the Americas , are accustomed to seeing snow on the surrounding peaks, despit e the fact that they live just a few miles south of the equator.

The city of Shell, a frontier outpost and military base hacked out of Ecuador's Amazon jungle to service the oil company whose nam e it bears, is nearly eight thousand feet lower than Quito . A steaming city, it is inhabited mostly by soldiers, oil workers, and the indigenous people from the Shuar and Kichwa tribes who work for them as prostitutes and laborers.

To journey from one city to the other, you must travel a road that is both tortuous and breathtaking . Local people will tell you that during the trip you experience all four seasons in a single day.

Although I have driven this road many times, I never tire of the spectacular scenery. Sheer cliffs, punctuated by cascading waterfall s and brilliant bromeliads, rise up one side . On the other side, the eart h drops abruptly into a deep abyss where the Pastaza River, a headwater of the Amazon, snakes its way down the Andes. The Pastaza carries water from the glaciers of Cotopaxi, one of the world's highest active volcanoes and a deity in the time of the Incas, to the Atlantic Ocean over three thousand miles away.

In 2003, I departed Quito in a Subaru Outback and headed fo r Shell on a mission that was like no other I had ever accepted . I was hoping to end a war I had helped create. As is the case with so many things we EHMs must take responsibility for, it is a war that is virtually unknown anywhere outside the country where it is fought . I was on my way to meet with the Shuars, the Kichwas, and thei r neighbors the Achuars, the Zaparos, and the Shiwiars—tribes determined to prevent our oil companies from destroying their homes, families, and lands, even if it means they must die in the process. For them, this is a war about the survival of their children and cultures, while for us it is about power, money, and natural resources. It is one part of the struggle for world domination and the dream of a few greedy men, global empire. '

That is what we EHMs do best: we build a global empire . We are an elite group of men and women who utilize international financia l organizations to foment conditions that make other nations sub - servient to the corporatocracy running our biggest corporations, ou r government, and our banks. Like our counterparts in the Mafia, EHMs provide favors. These take the form of loans to develop infrastructure — electric generating plants, highways, ports, airports, or industrial parks. A condition of such loans is that engineering an d construction companies from our own country must build all thes e projects. In essence, most of the money never leaves the United States; it is simply transferred from banking offices in Washington to engineering offices in New York, Houston, or San Francisco.

D to the fact that the money is returned almost immediately to torpor ions that are members of the corporatocracy (the creditor), the recipient country is required to pay it all back, principal plus interest. If an EHM is completely successful, the loans are s o large that the debtor is forced to default on its payments after a few years. When this happens, then like the Mafia we demand our pound of flesh. This often includes one or more of the following : control over United Nations votes, the installation of military bases, or access to precious resources such as oil or the Panama Canal . Of course, the debtor still owes us the money—and another country is added to our global empire .

Driving from Quito toward Shell on this sunny day in 2003, I thought back thirty-five years to the first time I arrived in this part of the world . I had read that although Ecuador is only about the siz e of Nevada, it has more than thirty active volcanoes, over 15 percen t of the world's bird species, and thousands of as-yet-unclassifie d plants, and that it is a land of diverse cultures where nearly as man y people speak ancient indigenous languages as speak Spanish . I found it fascinating and certainly exotic ; yet, the words that kept coming to mind back then were pure, untouched, and innocent. Much has changed in thirty-five years.

At the time of my first visit in 1968, Texaco had only just discov - ered petroleum in Ecuador's Amazon region. Today, oil accounts for nearly half the country's exports. A trans-Andean pipeline built shortly after my first visit has since leaked over a half million barrels xvi Prologue xvii of oil into the fragile rain forest — more than twice the amount spille d by the Exxon Valdez. 2 Today, a new 51.3 billion, three hundred-mil e pipeline constructed by an EHM-organized consortium promises t o make Ecuador one of the worl d's top ten suppliers of oil to the Unite d States. 3 Vast areas of rain forest have fallen, macaws and jaguars have all but vanished, three Ecuadorian indigenous cultures hav e been driven to the verge of collapse, and pristine rivers have bee n transformed into flaming cesspools .

During this same period, the indigenous cultures began fightin g back. For instance, on May 7, 2003, a group of American lawyers representing more than thirty thousand indigenous Ecuadoria n people filed a $1 billion lawsuit against ChevronTexaco Corp . The suit asserts that between 1971 and 1992 the oil giant dumped int o open holes and rivers over four million gallons per day of toxic wastewater contaminated with oil, heavy metals, and carcinogens , and that the company left behind nearly 350 uncovered waste pits that continue to kill both people and animals.4

Outside the window of my Outback, great clouds of mist rolled i n from the forests and up the Pastaza's canyons . Sweat soaked my shirt , and my stomach began to churn, but not just from the intense tropical heat and the serpentine twists in the road . Knowing the part I had played in destroying this beautiful country' was once again takin g its toll. Because of my fellow EHMs and me, Ecuador is in far wors e shape today than she was before we introduced her to the miracles of modern economics, banking, and engineering . Since 1970, during this period known euphemistically as the Oil Boom, the officia l poverty level grew from 50 to 70 percent, under- or unemployment increased from 15 to 70 percent, and public debt increased fro m $240 million to $16 billion. Meanwhile, the share of national resources allocated to the poorest segments of the population declined fro m 20 to 6 percent. '

Unfortunately, Ecuador is not the exception . Nearly every country we EHMs have brought under the global empire's umbrella has suffered a similar fate . 6 Third world debt has grown to more than S2. 5 trillion, and the cost of servicing it — over $375 billion per year as of 2004 — is more than all third world spending on health and education, and twenty times what developing countries receive annually in foreign aid. Over half the people in the world survive on less than two dollars per day, which is roughly the same amount they received in the early 1970s. Meanwhile, the top 1 percent of third world households accounts for 70 to 90 percent of all private financia l wealth and real estate ownership in their country ; the actual percentage depends on the specific country ?

The Subaru slowed as it meandered through the streets of the beautiful resort town of Banos, famous for the hot baths created b y underground volcanic rivers that flow from the highly active Moun t Tungurahgua . Children ran along beside us, waving and trying t o sell us gum and cookies. Then we left Banos behind. The spectacular scenery ended abruptly as the Subaru sped out of paradise an d into a modern vision of Dante's Inferno.

A gigantic monster reared up from the river, a mammoth gray wall. Its dripping concrete was totally out of place, completely un - natural and incompatible with the landscape . Of course, seeing it there sgild not have surprised me . I knew all along that it would be waiting in mbush . I had encountered it many times before and i n the past had praised it as a symbol of EHM accomplishments . Even so, it made my skin crawl .

That hideous, incongruous wall is a dam that blocks the rushing Pastaza River, diverts its waters through huge tunnels bored into the mountain, and converts the energy to electricity. This is the 156- megawatt Agoyan hydroelectric project . It fuels the industries that make a handful of Ecuadorian families wealthy, and it has been the source of untold suffering for the farmers and indigenous people who live along the river. This hydroelectric plant is just one of many projects developed through my efforts and those of other EHMs. Such projects are the reason Ecuador is now a member of the global empire, and the reason why the Shuars and Kichwas and their neighbors threaten war against our oil companies.

Because of EHM projects, Ecuador is awash in foreign debt an d must devote an inordinate share of its national budget to paying thi s off, instead of using its capital to help the millions of its citizen s officially classified as dangerously impoverished . The only way Ecuador can buy down its foreign obligations is by selling its rain forest s to the oil companies. Indeed, one of the reasons the EHMs set their sights on Ecuador in the first place was because the sea of oil beneath its Amazon region is believed to rival the oil fields of th e Middle East. 8 The global empire demands its pound of flesh in the form of oil concessions.

These demands became especially urgent after September 11 , 2001, when Washington feared that Middle Eastern supplies might cease . On top of that, Venezuela, our third-largest oil supplier, ha d recently elected a populist president, Hugo Chavez, who took a strong stand against what he referred to as U.S. imperialism; he threatened to cut off oil sales to the United States. The EHMs had failed in Iraq and Venezuela, but we had succeeded in Ecuador ; now we would milk it for all it is worth.

Ecuador is typical of countries around the world that EHMs hav e brought into the economic-political fold . For every $100 of crud e taken out of the Ecuadorian rain forests, the oil companies receive $75 . Of the remaining S25, three-quarters must go to paying off the foreign debt. Most of the remainder covers military and other government expenses — which leaves about $2.50 for health, education , and programs aimed at helping the poor. 9 Thus, out of every $100 worth of oil torn from the Amazon, less than $3 goes to the people who need the money most, those whose lives have been so adversely impacted by the dams, the drilling, and the pipelines, and who are dying from lack of edible food and potable water.

All of those people—millions in Ecuador, billions around the planet—are potential terrorists. Not because they believe in communism or anarchism or are intrinsically evil, but simply because they are desperate . Looking at this dam, I wondered —as I have so often in so many places around the world—when these people would take action, like the Americans against England in the 1770s or Latin Americans against Spain in the early 1800s.

The subtlety of this modern empire building puts the Roma n centurions, the Spanish conquistadors, and the eighteenth- an d nineteenth-century European colonial powers to shame . We EHMs are crafty; we learned from history. Today we do not carry swords. We do not wear armor or clothes that set us apart . In countries like Ecuador, Nigeria, and Indonesia, we dress like local schoolteacher s and shop owners. In Washington and Paris, we look like government bureaucrats and bankers . We appear humble, normal . We visit project sites and stroll through impoverished villages. We profess altruism, talk with local papers about the wonderful humanitarian things we are doing . We cover the conference tables of government committee s with our spreadsheets and financial projections, and we lecture at the Harvard Business School about the miracles of macroeconomics .

We are on the record, in the open . Or so we portray ourselves and s o are we accepted . It is how the system works. We seldom resort t o anything illegal because the system itself is built on subterfuge, an d the system is by definition legitimate .

However—and this is a very large caveat—if we fail, an eve n more sinister breed steps in, ones we EHMs refer to as the jackals, men who trace their heritage directly to those earlier empires. The jackals are always there, lurking in the shadows . When they emerge , heads of state are overthrown or die in violent "accidents "10 And if by chance the jackals fail, as they failed in Afghanistan and Iraq, then the old models resurface. When the jackals fail, young Americans are sent in to kill and to die.

As I passed the monster, that hulking mammoth wall of gray con - crete rising from the river, I was very conscious of the sweat tha t soaked my clothes and of the tightening in my intestines . I headed on down int~the jungle to meet with the indigenous people who ar e determined to fight to the last man in order to stop this empire I helped create, and I was overwhelmed with feelings of guilt. How, I asked myself, did a nice kid from rural New Hampshir e ever get into such a dirty business ?

PAM' I : 1963-1971


An Economic Hit Man Is Born

It began innocently enough.

I was an only child, born into the middle class in 1945 . Both my parents came from three centuries of New England Yankee stock ; their strict, moralistic, staunchly Republican attitudes reflecte d generations of puritanical ancestors. They were the first in their families to attend college — on scholarships. My mother became a high school Latin teacher. My father joined World War II as a Navy lieu - tenant and was in charge of the armed guard gun crew on a highl y flammable merchant marine tanker in the Atlantic . When I was born, in Hanover, New Hampshire, he was recuperating from a bro - ken hip in a Texas hospital. I did not see him until I was a year old.

He took a job teaching languages at Tilton School, a boys' board - ing school in rural New Hampshire . The campus stood high on a hill, proudly—some would say arrogantly—towering over the town of the same name . This exclusive institution limited its enrollment to about fifty students in each grade level, nine through twelve . The students were mostly the scions of wealthy families from Buenos Aires, Caracas, Boston, and New York.

My family was cash starved; however, we most certainly did not see ourselves as poor. Although the school's teachers received very little salary, all our needs were provided free: food, housing, heat, water, and the workers who mowed our lawn and shoveled our snow. Beginning on my fourth birthday, I ate in the prep school dinin g 3 room, shagged balls for the soccer teams my dad coached, and handed out towels in the locker room .

It is an understatement to say that the teachers and their wive s felt superior to the locals . I used to hear my parents joking about being the lords of the manor, ruling over the lowly peasants — the townies. I knew it was more than a joke .

My elementary and middle school friends belonged to that peasant class ; they were very poor. Their parents were dirt farmers, lumber - jacks, and mill workers . They resented "the preppies on the hill," an d in turn, my father and mother discouraged me from socializing wit h the townie girls, who they called "tarts" and "sluts ." I had shared schoolbooks and crayons with these girls since first grade, and over the years, I fell in love with three of them : Ann, Priscilla, and Judy. I had a hard time understanding my parents' perspective ; however, I deferred to their wishes .

Every year we spent the three months of my dad's summer vacation at a lake cottage built by my grandfather in 1921 . It was surrounded by forests, and at night we could hear owls and mountain lions . We had no neighbors ; I was the only child within walking distance . In the early years, I passed the days by pretending that the trees were knights of the Round Table and damsels in distress named Ann, Priscilla, or Judy (depending on the year). My passion was, I had n o doubt, as strong as that of Lancelot for Guinevere — and even more secretive.

At fourteen, I received free tuition to Tilton School . With my parents' prodding, I rejected everything to do with the town and never saw my old friends again . When my new classmates went home to their mansions and penthouses for vacation, I remained alone on the hill. Their girlfriends were debutantes; I had no girlfriends . All the girls I knew were "sluts"; I had cast them off, and they had forgotten me . I was alone — and terribly frustrated.

My parents were masters at manipulation ; they assured me that I was privileged to have such an opportunity and that some day I would be grateful. I would find the perfect wife, one suited to our high moral standards. Inside, though, I seethed. I craved female companionship — sex ; the idea of a slut was most alluring.

However, rather than rebelling, I repressed my rage and expresse d my frustration by excelling . I was an honor student, captain of two varsity teams, editor of the school newspaper. I was determined to show up my rich classmates and to leave Tilton behind forever. During my senior year, I was awarded a full athletic scholarship to Brown and an academic scholarship to Middlebury . I chose Brown, mainly because I preferred being an athlete — and because it was located i n a city. My mother had graduated from Middlebury and my fathe r had received his master's degree there, so even though Brown was i n the Ivy League, they preferred Middlebury . "What if you break your leg?" my father asked . "Better to take the academic scholarship ." I buckled .

Middlebury was, in my perception, merely an inflated version o f Tilton — albeit in rural Vermont instead of rural New Hampshire . True, it was coed, but I was poor and most everyone else was wealthy, and I had not attended school with a female in four years . I lacked confidence, felt outclassed, was miserable . I pleaded with my dad to let me drop out or take a year off. I wanted to move to Boston an d learn about life and women . He would not hear of it. "How can I pretend to prepare other parents' kids for college if my own won't stay in one?" he asked .

I have come to understand that life is composed of a series o f coincidences . How we react to these—how we exercise what some refer to as free will — is everything; the choices we make within the boundaries of the twists of fate determine who we are . Two major coincidences that shaped my life occurred at Middlebury One cam e in the form of an Iranian, the son of a general who was a persona l advisor to the shah; the other was a beautiful young woman named Ann, like my childhood sweetheart.

The first, whom I will call Farhad, had played professional socce r in Rome. He was endowed with an athletic physique, curly blac k hair, soft walnut eyes, and a background and charisma that made him irresistible to women. He was my opposite in many ways . I worked hard to win his friendship, and he taught me many thing s that would serve me well in the years to come . I also met Ann. Al - though she was seriously dating a young man who attended another college, she took me under her wing . Our platonic relationship was the first truly loving one I had ever experienced .

Farhad encouraged me to drink, party, and ignore my parents . I consciously chose to stop studying . I decided I would break my academic leg to get even with my father . My grades plummeted; I lost my scholarship. Halfway through my sophomore year, I elected t o 4 Part I : 1963—1971 An Economic Hit Man Is Born 5 drop out. My father threatened to disown me ; Farhad egged me on. I stormed into the dean's office and quit school . It was a pivotal moment in my life.

Farhad and I celebrated my last night in town together at a local bar. A drunken farmer, a giant of a man, accused me of flirting wit h his wife, picked me up off my feet, and hurled me against a wall . Farhad stepped between us, drew a knife, and slashed the farme r open at the cheek. Then he dragged me across the room and shove d me through a window, out onto a ledge high above Otter Creek. We jumped and made our way along the river and back to our dorm .

The next morning, when interrogated by the campus police, I lie d and refused to admit any knowledge of the incident . Nevertheless, Farhad was expelled. We both moved to Boston and shared an apartment there . I landed a job at Hearst's RecordAmerican/SundayAdvertiser newspapers, as a personal assistant to the editor in chief of the Sunday Advertiser.

Later that year, 1965, several of my friends at the newspaper we e drafted. To avoid a similar fate, I entered Boston University's College of Business Administration . By then, Ann had broken up with her old boyfriend, and she often traveled down from Middlebury to visit. I welcomed her attention. She graduated in 1967, while I still had another year to complete at BU. She adamantly refused to move in with me until we were married . Although I joked about being blackmailed, and in fact did resent what I saw as a continuation of my parents' archaic and prudish set of moral standards, I enjoyed our times together and I wanted more . We married.

Ann's father, a brilliant engineer, had masterminded the navigational system for an important class of missile and was rewarded with a high-level position in the Department of the Navy. His best friend, a man Ann called Uncle Frank (not his real name), was employed as an executive at the highest echelons of the National Security Agency (NSA), the country's least-known — and by most accounts largest — spy organization.

Shortly after our marriage, the military summoned me for my physical. I passed and therefore faced the prospect of Vietnam upon graduation. The idea of fighting in Southeast Asia tore me apart emotionally, though war has always fascinated me . I was raised on tales about my colonial ancestors — who include Thomas Paine and Ethan Allen — and I had visited all the New England and upstate New York battle sites of both the French and Indian and the Revolutionary wars. I read every historical novel I could find . In fact, when Army Special Forces units first entered Southeast Asia, I was eager to sign up. But as the media exposed the atrocities and the inconsistencies of U.S. policy, I experienced a change of heart . I found myself wondering whose side Paine would have taken . I was sure he would have joined our Vietcong enemies.

Uncle Frank came to my rescue . He informed me that an NSA j b made one eligible for draft deferment, and he arranged for a series of meetings at his agency, including a day of grueling polygraph - monitored interviews. I was told that these tests would determine whether I was suitable material for NSA recruitment and training , and if I was, would provide a profile of my strengths and weaknesses , which would be used to map out my career. Given my attitude to - ward the Vietnam War, I was convinced I would fail the tests .

Under examination, I admitted that as a loyal American I op posed the war, and I was surprised when the interviewers did not pursue this subject. Instead, they focused on my upbringing, my attitudes toward my parents, the emotions generated by the fact I grew up as a poor puritan among so many wealthy, hedonistic preppies. They also explored my frustration about the lack of women, sex , and money in my life, and the fantasy world that had evolved as a result. I was amazed by the attention they gave to my relationship with Farhad and by their interest in my willingness to lie to the campus police to protect him.

 At first I assumed all these things that seemed so negative to m e marked me as an NSA reject, but the interviews continued, suggesting otherwise. It was not until several years later that I realized that from an NSA viewpoint these negatives actually are positive . Their assessment had less to do with issues of loyalty to my country than with the frustrations of my life. Anger at my parents ; .,, an obsession with women, and my ambition to live the good life gave them a hook; I was seducible. My determination to excel in school and in sports, my ultimate rebellion against my father, my ability to get along with foreigners, and my willingness to lie to the police were exactly the types of attributes they sought . I also discovered, later, that Farhad's father worked for the U.S. intelligence community in Iran; my friendship with Farhad was therefore a definite plus.

A few weeks after the NSA testing, I was offered a job to star t 6 Part I : 1963—1971 An Economic Hit Man Is Born 7 training in the art of spying, to begin after I received my degree from BU several months later. However, before I had officially accepted this offer, I impulsively attended a seminar given at BU by a Peace Corps recruiter. A major selling point was that, like the NSA, Peace Corps jobs made one eligible for draft deferments .

The decision to sit in on that seminar was one of those coincidence s that seemed insignificant at the time but turned out to have life - changing implications . The recruiter described several places i n the world that especially needed volunteers. One of these was the Amazon rain forest where, he pointed out, indigenous people lived very much as natives of North America had until the arrival of Europeans.

I had always dreamed of living like the Abnakis who inhabited New Hampshire when my ancestors first settled there . I knew I had Abnaki blood in my veins, and I wanted to learn the type of fores t lore they understood so well. I approached the recruiter after his talk and asked about the possibility of being assigned to the Amazon . He assured me there was a great need for volunteers in that region an d that my chances would be excellent . I called Uncle Frank.

To my surprise, Uncle Frank encouraged me to consider the Peace Corps. He confided that after the fall of Hanoi — which in those day s was deemed a certainty by men in his position—the Amazon would become a hot spot.

"Loaded with oil," he said . "We'll need good agents there — people who understand the natives ." He assured me that the Peace Corps would be an excellent training ground, and he urged me to become proficient in Spanish as well as in local indigenous dialects . "You might," he chuckled, "end up working for a private company instead of the government."

 I did not understand what he meant by that at the time . I was being upgraded from spy to EHM, although I had never heard the term and would not for a few more years . I had no idea that there were hundreds of men and women scattered around the world , working for consulting firms and other private companies, people who never received a penny of salary from any government agency and yet were serving the interests of empire . Nor could I have guessed that a new type, with more euphemistic titles, would number in the thousands by the end of the millennium, and that I would play a significant role in shaping this growing army.

Ann and I applied to the Peace Corps and requested an assignment in the Amazon. When our acceptance notification arrived, my first reaction was one of extreme disappointment. The letter state d that we would be sent to Ecuador. Oh no, I thought. I requested the Amazon, not Africa. I went to an atlas and looked up Ecuador. I was dismayed when I could not find it anywhere on the African continent. In the index, though, I discovered that it is indeed located in Latin America, and I saw on the map that the river systems flowing off its Andean glaciers form the headwaters to the mighty Amazon . Further reading assured me that Ecuador's jungles were some of the world's most di verse and formidable, and that the indigenous people still live d much as they had for millennia. We accepted. Ann and I completed Peace Corps training in Southern California and headed for Ecuador in September 1968 . We lived in the Amazon with the Shuar whose lifestyle did indeed resemble that of precolonial North American natives ; we also worked in the Andes with descendants of the Incas . It was a side of the world I never dreamed still existed. Until then, the only Latin Americans I had met were the wealthy preppies at the school where my father taught . I found myself sympathizing with these indigenous people who subsisted on hunting and farming. I felt an odd sort of kinship with them. Somehow, they reminded me of the townies I had left behind .

One day a man in a business suit, Einar Greve, landed at the airstrip in our community. He was a vice president at Chas . T. Main, Inc. (MAIN), an international consulting firm that kept a very low profile and that was in charge of studies to determine whether the World Bank should lend Ecuador and its neighboring countries billions of dollars to build hydroelectric dams and other infrastructure projects. Einar also was a colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve.

He started talking with me about the benefits of working for a company like MAIN . When I mentioned that I had been accepted by the NSA before joining the Peace Corps, and that I was considerin g going back to them, he informed me that he sometimes acted as an NSA liaison; he gave me a look that made me suspect that part of hi s assignment was to evaluate my capabilities . I now believe that h e was updating my profile, and especially sizing up my abilities to survive in environments most North Americans would find hostile .

We spent a couple of days together in Ecuador, and afterwar d 8 Part I : 1963—1971 An Economic Hit Man Is Born 9 communicated by mail . He asked me to send him reports assessing Ecuador's economic prospects. I had a small portable typewriter, loved to write, and was quite happy to comply with this request. Over a period of about a year, I sent Einar at least fifteen long letters. In these letters, I speculated on Ecuador's economic and political future, and I appraised the growing frustration among the indigenous communities as they struggled to confront oil companies, international development agencies, and other attempts to draw them int o the modern world.

 When my Peace Corps tour was over, Einar invited me to a job interview at MAIN headquarters in Boston. During our private meeting, he emphasized that MAIN's primary business was engineering but that his biggest client, the World Bank, recently had begun insisting that he keep economists on staff to produce the critical economic forecasts used to determine the feasibility and magnitude o f engineering projects. He confided that he had previously hired three highly qualified economists with impeccable credentials — two with master's degrees and one with a PhD . They had failed miserably.

"None of them," Einar said, "can handle the idea of producing economic forecasts in countries where reliable statistics aren't available." He went on to tell me that, in addition, all of them had found it impossible to fulfill the terms of their contracts, which require d them to travel to remote places in countries like Ecuador, Indonesia , Iran, and Egypt, to interview local leaders, and to provide persona l assessments about the prospects for economic development i n those regions. One had suffered a nervous breakdown in an isolate d Panamanian village ; he was escorted by Panamanian police to the airport and put on a plane back to the United States.

"The letters you sent me indicate that you don't mind sticking your neck out, even when hard data isn't available . And given your living conditions in Ecuador, I'm confident you can survive almost anywhere." He told me that he already had fired one of those economists and was prepared to do the same with the other two, if I accepted the job .

So it was that in January 1971 I was offered a position as an economist with MAIN. I had turned twenty-six — the magical age when the draft board no longer wanted me. I consulted with Ann's family; they encouraged me to take the job, and I assumed this reflected Uncle Frank's attitude as well . I recalled him mentioning the possibility I would end up working for a private firm . Nothing was ever state d openly, but I had no doubt that my employment at MAIN was a con - sequence of the arrangements Uncle Frank had made three years earlier, in addition to my experiences in Ecuador and my willingness to write about that country's economic and political situation .

My head reeled for several weeks, and I had a very swollen ego . I had earned only a bachelor's degree from BU, which did not seem t o warrant a position as an economist with such a lofty consulting company I knew that many of my BU classmates who had been rejected by the draft and had gone on to earn MBAs and other graduate degrees would be overcome with jealousy I visualized myself as a dashing secret agent, heading off to exotic lands, lounging beside hotel swimming pools, surrounded by gorgeous bikini-clad women, martini in hand.

Although this was merely fantasy, I would discover that it held elements of truth . Einar had hired me as an economist, but I was so n to learn that my real job went far beyond that, and that it was in fact closer to James Bond's than I ever could have guessed .


"In for Life"

In legal parlance, MAIN would be called a closely held corporation ; roughly 5 percent of its two thousand employees owned the company . These were referred to as partners or associates, and their position was coveted . Not only did the partners have power over everyone else, but also they made the big bucks . Discretion was their hallmark ; they dealt with heads of state and other chief executive officers who expect their consultants, like their attorneys and psychotherapists, to honor a strict code of absolute confidentiality. Talking with the press was taboo. It simply was not tolerated. As a consequence, hardly anyone outside MAIN had ever heard of us, although many were familiar with our competitors, such as Arthur D . Little, Stone & Webster, Brown & Root, Halliburton, and Bechtel.

 I use the term competitors loosely, because in fact MAIN was in a league by itself. The majority of our professional staff was engineers, yet we owned no equipment and never constructed so much as a storage shed . Many MAINers were ex-military ; however, we did no t contract with the Department of Defense or with any of the military services. Our stock-in-trade was something so different from the norm that during my first months there even I could not figure out what we did. I knew only that my first real assignment would be in Indonesia, and that I would be part of an eleven-man team sent t o create a master energy plan for the island of Java .

I also knew that Einar and others who discussed the job with m e were eager to convince me that Java's economy would boom, and that if I wanted to distinguish myself as a good forecaster (and to therefore be offered promotions), I would produce projections that demonstrated as much.

"Right off the chart," Einar liked to say. He would glide his fingers through the air and up over his head . "An economy that will soar like a bird! "

Einar took frequent trips that usually lasted only two to three days . No one talked much about them or seemed to know where h e had gone. When he was in the office, he often invited me to sit with him for a few minutes over coffee . He asked about Ann, our new apartment, and the cat we had brought with us from Ecuador . I grew bolder as I came to know him better, and I tried to learn more about him and what I would be expected to do in my job. But I never received answers that satisfied me ; he was a master at turning conversations around. On one such occasion, he gave me a peculiar look.

"You needn't worry," he said . "We have high expectations for you. I was in Washington recently . . ." His voice trailed off and he smiled inscrutably. "In any case, you know we have a big project in Kuwait . It'll be a while before you leave for Indonesia . I think you should use some of your time to read up on Kuwait. The Boston Public Library is a great resource, and we can get you passes to the MIT and Harvard libraries."

After that, I spent many hours in those libraries, especially in the BPL, which was located a few blocks away from the office and very close to my Back Bay apartment. I became familiar with Kuwait as well as with many books on economic statistics, published by the Unite d Nations, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the World Bank. I knew that I would be expected to produce econometric models for Indonesia and Java, and I decided that I might as well get started by doing one for Kuwait.

 However, my BS in business administration had not prepared me as an econometrician, so I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to go about it. I went so far as to enroll in a couple of courses on the subject. In the process, I discovered that statistics can be manipulated to produce a large array of conclusions, including those substantiating the predilections of the analyst .

MAIN was a macho corporation. There were only four women who held professional positions in 1971 . However, there were perhaps two hundred women divided between the cadres of persona

l 12 " In for Life" 13 secretaries — every vice president and department manager had one — and the steno pool, which served the rest of us. I had become accustomed to this gender bias, and I was therefore especially astounded by what happened one day in the BPL's reference section .

An attractive brunette woman came up and sat in a chair across the table from me. In her dark green business suit, she looked very sophisticated. I judged her to be several years my senior, but I tried to focus on not noticing her, on acting indifferent . After a few minutes, without a word, she slid an open book in my direction . It contained a table with information I had been searching for about Kuwait — and a card with her name, Claudine Martin, and her title , Special Consultant to Chas. T. Main, Inc. I looked up into her soft green eyes, and she extended her hand. `

"I've been asked to help in your training," she said . I could not believe this was happening to me .

Beginning the next day, we met in Claudine's Beacon Street apartment, a few blocks from MAIN's Prudential Center headquarters. During our first hour together, she explained that my position was an unusual one and that we needed to keep everything highly confidential. She told me that no one had given me specifics about my job because no one was authorized to — except her. Then she informed me that her assignment was to mold me into an economic hit man.

The very name awakened old cloak-and-dagger dreams. I was embarrassed by the nervous laughter I heard coming from me . She smiled and assured me that humor was one of the reasons they use d the term. "Who would take it seriously?" she asked .

I confessed ignorance about the role of economic hit men .

"You're not alone," she laughed . "We're a rare breed, in a dirty business. No one can know about your involvement — not even your wife :' Then she turned serious. "I'll be very frank with you, teach yo u all I can during the next weeks. Then you'll have to choose . Your decision is final. Once you're in, you're in for life ." After that, she seldom used the full name ; we were simply EHMs.

I know now what I did not then — that Claudine took full advantage of the personality weaknesses the NSA profile had disclosed about me. I do not know who supplied her with the information — Einar, the NSA, MAIN's personnel department, or someone else — only that she used it masterfully. Her approach, a combination of physical seduction and verbal manipulation, was tailored specifically for me , and yet it fit within the standard operating procedures I have since seen used by a variety of businesses when the stakes are high and the pressure to close lucrative deals is great. She knew from the start that I would not jeopardize my marriage by disclosing our clandestine activities. And she was brutally frank when it came to describing the shadowy side of things that would he expected of me .

I have no idea who paid her salary, although I have no reason to suspect it was not, as her business card implied, MAIN. At the time, I was too naive, intimidated, and bedazzled to ask the questions that today seem so obvious.

Claudine told me that there were two primary objectives of m y work. First, I was to justify huge international loans that would funnel money back to MAIN and other U.S. companies (such as Bechtel , Halliburton, Stone & Webster, and Brown & Root) through massive engineering and construction projects. Second, I would work to bankrupt the countries that received those loans (after they had pai d MAIN and the other U.S. contractors, of course) so that they would be forever beholden to their creditors, and so they would present easy targets when we needed favors, including military bases, UN votes, or access to oil and other natural resources .

 My job, she said, was to forecast the effects of investing billions o f dollars in a country. Specifically, I would produce studies that projected economic growth twenty to twenty-five years into the futur e and that evaluated the impacts of a variety of projects . For example , if a decision was made to lend a country $1 billion to persuade its leaders not to align with the Soviet Union, I would compare the benefits of investing that money in power plants with the benefits of in - vesting in a new national railroad network or a telecommunication s system. Or I might be told that the country was being offered the opportunity to receive a modern electric utility system, and it would be up to me to demonstrate that such a system would result in sufficient economic growth to justify the loan. The critical factor, in every case , was gross national product. The project that resulted in the highest average annual growth of GNP won. If only one project was under consideration, I would need to demonstrate that developing i t would bring superior benefits to the GNP.

The unspoken aspect of every one of these projects was that the y were intended to create large profits for the contractors, and to make 14 Part I: 1963-1971 " In for Life" 15 a handful of wealthy and influential families in the receiving countries very happy; while assuring the long-term financial dependence and therefore the political loyalty of governments around the world. The larger the loan, the better. The fact that the debt burden placed on a country would deprive its poorest citizens of health, education, and other social services for decades to come was not take n into consideration.

Claudine and I openly discussed the deceptive nature of GNP. For instance, the growth of GNP may result even when it profits only one person, such as an individual who owns a utility company, and even if the majority of the population is burdened with debt . The rich get richer and the poor grow poorer. Yet, from a statistical standpoint, this is recorded as economic progress.

Like U.S. citizens in general, most MAIN employees believed we were doing countries favors when we built power plants, highways, and ports. Our schools and our press have taught us to perceive all of our actions as altruistic . Over the years, I've repeatedly heard comments like, "If they're going to burn the U.S . flag and demonstrate against our embassy, why don't we just get out of their damn country and let them wallow in their own poverty? "

People who say such things often hold diplomas certifying that they are well educated. However, these people have no clue that the main reason we establish embassies around the world is to serve our own interests, which during the last half of the twentieth century meant turning the American republic into a global empire. Despite credentials, such people are as uneducated as those eighteenth - century colonists who believed that the Indians fighting to defend their lands were servants of the devil.

Within several months, I would leave for the island of Java in the country of Indonesia, described at that time as the most heavily populated piece of real estate on the planet . Indonesia also happened t o be an oil-rich Muslim nation and a hotbed of communist activity .

"It's the next domino after Vietnam," is the way Claudine put it . "We must win the Indonesians over. If they join the Communist bloc, well. . ." She drew a finger across her throat and then smiled sweetly. "Let's just say you need to come up with a very optimistic forecast of the economy, how it will mushroom after all the new power plants and distribution lines are built . That will allow USAID and the international banks to justify the loans. You'll be well rewarded, of course, and can move on to other projects in exotic places. The world is your shopping cart ." She went on to warn me that my rol e would be tough. "Experts at the banks will come after you. It's their job to punch holes in your forecasts — that 's what they're paid to do. Making you look bad makes them look good ." One day I reminded Claudine that the MAIN team being sent t o Java included ten other men . I asked if they all were receiving the same type of training as me . She assured me they were not. "They're engineers," she said. "They design power plants, transmission and distribution lines, and seaports and roads to bring in the fuel. You're the one who predicts the future . Your forecasts determine the magnitude of the systems they design — and the size of the loans. You see, you're the key." Every time I walked away from Claudine's apartment, I wondered whether I was doing the right thing . Somewhere in my heart, I suspected I was not. But the frustrations of my past haunted me . MAIN seemed to offer everything my life had lacked, and yet I kept asking myself if Tom Paine would have approved. In the end, I convinced myself that by learning more, by experiencing it, I could better expose it later —the old "working from the inside" justification . When I shared this idea with Claudine, she gave me a perplexed look. "Don't be ridiculous. Once you're in, you can never get out . You must decide for yourself, before you get in any deeper." I understood her, and what she said frightened me . After I left, I strolled down Commonwealth Avenue, turned onto Dartmouth Street, and assured myself that I was the exception. One afternoon some months later, Claudine and I sat in a window settee watching the snow fall on Beacon Street. `We're a small, exclusive club," she said. "We're paid — well paid — to cheat countries around the globe out of billions of dollars. A large part of your job is to encourage world leaders to become part of a vast network that promotes U.S. commercial interests. In the end, those leaders become ensnared in a web of debt that ensures their loyalty . We can draw on them whenever we desire — to satisfy our political, economic , or military needs. In turn, these leaders bolster their political positions by bringing industrial parks, power plants, and airports to their people . Meanwhile, the owners of U.S. engineering and construction companies become very wealthy." That afternoon, in the idyllic setting of Claudine's apartment, 16 Part I: 1963—1971 "In for Life" 17 relaxing in the window while snow swirled around outside, I learned the history of the profession I was about to enter. Claudine described how throughout most of history, empires were built largely through military force or the threat of it . But with the end of World War II , the emergence of the Soviet Union, and the specter of nuclear holocaust, the military solution became just too risky.

The decisive moment occurred in 1951, when Iran rebelled against a British oil company that was exploiting Iranian natural resources and its people.

 The company was the forerunner of British Petroleum, today's BP. In response, the highly popular, democratically electe d Iranian prime minister (and TIME magazine's Man of the Year in 1951), Mohammad Mossadegh, nationalized all Iranian petroleum assets. An outraged England sought the help of her World War II ally, the United States. However, both countries feared that military retaliation would provoke the Soviet Union into taking action on be - half of Iran.

Instead of sending in the Marines, therefore, Washington dispatched CIA agent Kermit Roosevelt (Theodore's grandson) . He performed brilliantly, winning people over through payoffs and threats . He then enlisted them to organize a series of street riots and violent demonstrations, which created the impression that Mossadegh was both unpopular and inept. In the end, Mossadegh went down, and he spent the rest of his life under house arrest . The pro-America n Mohammad Reza Shah became the unchallenged dictator. Kermit Roosevelt had set the stage for a new profession, the one whose rank s I was joining. '

Roosevelt's gambit reshaped Middle Eastern history even as it rendered obsolete all the old strategies for empire building . It also coincided with the beginning of experiments in "limited nonnuclear military actions," which ultimately resulted in U.S. humiliations in Korea and Vietnam . By 1968, the year I interviewed with the NSA , it had become clear that if the United States wanted to realize its dream of global empire (as envisioned by men like presidents Johnson and Nixon), it would have to employ strategies modeled on Roosevelt's Iranian example. This was the only way to beat the Soviets without the threat of nuclear war.

There was one problem, however. Kermit Roosevelt was a CIA employee. Had he been caught, the consequences would have been dire . He had orchestrated the first U.S. operation to overthrow a foreign government, and it was likely that many more would follow, but it was important to find an approach that would not directly implicate Washington .

Fortunately for the strategists, the 1960s also witnessed anothe r type of revolution: the empowerment of international corporations and of multinational organizations such as the World Bank and th e IMF. The latter were financed primarily by the United States an d our sister empire builders in Europe . A symbiotic relationship developed between governments, corporations, and multinational organizations .

 By the time I enrolled in BU's business school, a solution to the Roosevelt-as-CIA-agent problem had already been worked out . U.S. intelligence agencies — including the NSA — would identify prospective EHMs, who could then be hired by international corporations . These EHMs would never be paid by the government; instead, they would draw their salaries from the private sector. As a result, their dirty work, if exposed, would be chalked up to corporate greed rather than to government policy. In addition, the corporations that hired them, although paid by government agencies and their multinational banking counterparts (with taxpayer money), would be insulated from congressional oversight and public scrutiny, shielded by a growing body of legal initiatives, including trademark, international trade, and Freedom of Information laws. 2

"So you see," Claudine concluded, "we are just the next generation in a proud tradition that began back when you were in first grade ."



Indonesia: Lessons for an EHM

In addition to learning about my new career, I also spent time reading books about Indonesia . "The more you know about a country before you get there, the easier your job will be," Claudine had advised . I took her words to heart.

When Columbus set sail in 1492, he was trying to reach Indonesia, known at the time as the Spice Islands. Throughout the colonial era, it was considered a treasure worth far more than the Americas . Java, with its rich fabrics, fabled spices, and opulent kingdoms, was both the crown jewel and the scene of violent clashes between Span - ish, Dutch, Portuguese, and British adventurers. The Netherlands emerged triumphant in 1750, but even though the Dutch controlled Java, it took them more than 150 years to subdue the outer islands.

When the Japanese invaded Indonesia during World War II , Dutch forces offered little resistance . As a result, Indonesians, especially the Javanese, suffered terribly. Following the Japanese surrender, a charismatic leader named Sukarno emerged to declare independence. Four years of fighting finally ended on December 27, 1949 , when the Netherlands lowered its flag and returned sovereignty to a people who had known nothing but struggle and domination for more than three centuries. Sukarno became the new republic's first president.

Ruling Indonesia, however, proved to be a greater challenge tha n defeating the Dutch . Far from homogeneous, the archipelago o f about 17,500 islands was a boiling pot of tribalism, divergent cultures, dozens of languages and dialects, and ethnic groups who nursed centuries-old animosities. Conflicts were frequent and brutal, an d Sukarno clamped down . He suspended parliament in 1960 and was named president-for-life in 1963. He formed close alliances wit h Communist governments around the world, in exchange for military equipment and training. He sent Russian-armed Indonesian troops into neighboring Malaysia in an attempt to spread communism throughout Southeast Asia and win the approval of the world's Socialist leaders.

Opposition built, and a coup was launched in 1965. Sukarno escaped assassination only through the quick wits of his mistress. Many of his top military officers and his closest associates were les s lucky. The events were reminiscent of those in Iran in 1953. In the end, the Communist Party was held responsible — especially thos e factions aligned with China. In the Army-initiated massacres tha t followed, an estimated three hundred thousand to five hundred thou - sand people were killed . The head of the military, General Suharto , took over as president in 1968.

By 1971, the United States' determination to seduce Indonesi a away from communism was heightened because the outcome of the Vietnam War was looking very uncertain . President Nixon had begu n a series of troop withdrawals in the summer of 1969, and U.S . strategy was taking on a more global perspective. The strategy focused on preventing a domino effect of one country after another falling unde r Communist rule, and it focused on a couple of countries ; Indonesi a was the key. MAIN'S electrification project was part of a comprehensive plan to ensure American dominance in Southeast Asia.

The premise of U.S. foreign policy was that Suharto would serv e Washington in a manner similar to the shah of Iran . The United States also hoped the nation would serve as a model for other countries in the region . Washington based part of its strategy on th e assumption that gains made in Indonesia might have positive repercussions throughout the Islamic world, particularly in the explosiv e Middle East. And if that were not incentive enough, Indonesia had oil. No one was certain about the magnitude or quality of its reserves, but oil company seismologists were exuberant over the possibilities.

As I pored over the books at the BPL, my excitement grew. I began to imagine the adventures ahead. In working for MAIN, I would be trading the rugged Peace Corps lifestyle for a much more luxurious 20 Indonesia : Lessons for an EHM 21 and glamorous one . My time with Claudine already represented the realization of one of my fantasies; it seemed too good to be true. I felt at least partially vindicated for serving the sentence at that all-boys ' prep school. Something else was also happening in my life : Ann and I were not getting along. I think she must have sensed that I was leading two lives . I justified it as the logical result of the resentment I felt toward her for forcing us to get married in the first place . Never mind that she had nurtured and supported me through the challenges of our Peace Corps assignment in Ecuador; I still saw her as a continuation of my pattern of giving in to my parents' whims . Of course, as I look back on it, I'm sure my relationship with Claudine was a major factor. I could not tell Ann about this, but she sensed it. In any case, we decided to move into separate apartments .

One day in 1971, about a week before my scheduled departure for Indonesia, I arrived at Claudine's place to find the small dining room table set with an assortment of cheeses and breads, and there was a fine bottle of Beaujolais. She toasted me .

"You've made it." She smiled, but somehow it seemed less than sincere . "You're now one of us."

We chatted casually for half an hour or so ; then, as we were finishing off the wine, she gave me a look unlike any I had seen before . "Never admit to anyone about our meetings," she said in a stern voice. "I won't forgive you if you do, ever, and I'll deny I ever met you." She glared at me — perhaps the only time I felt threatened by her — and then gave a cold laugh . "Talking about us would make life dangerous for you ."

I was stunned . I felt terrible. But later, as I walked alone back to the Prudential Center, I had to admit to the cleverness of the scheme. The fact is that all our time together had been spent in her apartment. There was not a trace of evidence about our relationship , and no one at MAIN was implicated in any way . There was also part of me that appreciated her honesty ; she had not deceived me the wa y my parents had about Tilton and Middlebury


Saving a Country from Communism

I had a romanticized vision of Indonesia, the country where I was t o live for the next three months. Some of the books I read featured photographs of beautiful women in brightly colored sarongs, exoti c Balinese dancers, shamans blowing fire, and warriors paddling lon g dugout canoes in emerald waters at the foot of smoking volcanoes. Particularly striking was a series on the magnificent black-saile d galleons of the infamous Bugi pirates, who still sailed the seas of th e archipelago, and who had so terrorized early European sailors tha t they returned home to warn their children, "Behave yourselves, o r the Bugimen will get you ." Oh, how those pictures stirred my soul.

I had a romanticized vision of Indonesia, the country where I was t o live for the next three months. Some of the books I read featured photographs of beautiful women in brightly colored sarongs, exoti c Balinese dancers, shamans blowing fire, and warriors paddling lon g dugout canoes in emerald waters at the foot of smoking volcanoes. Particularly striking was a series on the magnificent black-saile d galleons of the infamous Bugi pirates, who still sailed the seas of th e archipelago, and who had so terrorized early European sailors tha t they returned home to warn their children, "Behave yourselves, o r the Bugimen will get you ." Oh, how those pictures stirred my soul.

My expectations were high, and I suppose they mirrored those o f the great explorers. Like Columbus, though, I should have known t o temper my fantasies. Perhaps I could have guessed that the beaco n shines on a destiny that is not always the one we envision . Indonesia 22 Part I : 1963—1971 23 offered treasures, but it was not the chest of panaceas I had come t o expect. In fact, my first days in Indonesia's steamy capital, Jakarta, i n the summer of 1971, were shocking.

The beauty was certainly present. Gorgeous women sportin g colorful sarongs. Lush gardens ablaze with tropical flowers . Exoti c Balinese dancers. Bicycle cabs with fanciful, rainbow-colored scenes painted on the sides of the high seats, where passengers reclined i n front of the pedaling drivers. Dutch Colonial mansions and turrete d mosques. But there was also an ugly, tragic side to the city . Lepers holding out bloodied stumps instead of hands . Young girls offering their bodies for a few coins. Once-splendid Dutch canals turned int o cesspools. Cardboard hovels where entire families lived along the trash-lined banks of black rivers. Blaring horns and choking fumes. The beautiful and the ugly, the elegant and the vulgar, the spiritual and the profane. This was Jakarta, where the enticing scent of cloves and orchid blossoms battled the miasma of open sewers for dominance.

I had seen poverty before . Some of my New Hampshire classmates lived in cold-water tarpaper shacks and arrived at schoo l wearing thin jackets and frayed tennis shoes on subzero winter days , their unwashed bodies reeking of old sweat and manure . I had lived in mud shacks with Andean peasants whose diet consisted almost entirely of dried corn and potatoes, and where it sometimes seemed that a newborn was as likely to die as to experience a birthday. I had seen poverty, but nothing to prepare me for Jakarta.

Our team, of course, was quartered in the country's fanciest hotel, the Hotel InterContinental Indonesia . Owned by Pan American Airways, like the rest of the InterContinental chain scattered around the globe, it catered to the whims of wealthy foreigners, especially oil executives and their families. On the evening of our first day, our project manager Charlie Illingworth hosted a dinner for us in the elegant restaurant on the top floor.

Charlie was a connoisseur of war; he devoted most of his free time to reading history books and historical novels about great military leaders and battles. He was the epitome of the pro-Vietnam War armchair soldier. As usual, this night he was wearing khaki slack s and a short-sleeved khaki shirt with military-style epaulettes.

After welcoming us, he lit up a cigar. "To the good life," he sighed , raising a glass of champagne.

We joined him. "To the good life ." Our glasses clinked.

Cigar smoke swirling around him, Charlie glanced about the room. "We will be well pampered here," he said, nodding his head appreciatively. "The Indonesians will take very good care of us. As will the U.S . Embassy people. But let's not forget that we have a mission to accomplish." He looked down at a handful of note cards. "Yes, we're here to develop a master plan for the electrification of Java — the most populated land in the world. But that's just the tip of the iceberg."

His expression turned serious ; he reminded me of George C. Scott playing General Patton, one of Charlie's heroes. "We are here to accomplish nothing short of saving this country from the clutches o f communism. As you know, Indonesia has a long and tragic history. Now, at a time when it is poised to launch itself into the twentieth century, it is tested once again . Our responsibility is to make sure that Indonesia doesn't follow in the footsteps of its northern neighbors, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos . An integrated electrical system is a key element. That, more than any other single factor (with the possible exception of oil), will assure that capitalism and democracy rule.

`"Speaking of oil," he said. He took another puff on his cigar and flipped past a couple of the note cards. "We all know how dependent our own country is on oil . Indonesia can be a powerful ally to us in that regard. So, as you develop this master plan, please do everything you can to make sure that the oil industry and all the others that serve it—ports, pipelines, construction companies—get whatever they are likely to need in the way of electricity for the entire duration of this twenty-five-year plan."

He raised his eyes from his note cards and looked directly at me . "Better to err on the high side than to underestimate. You don't want the blood of Indonesian children — or our own — on your hands . Yo u don't want them to live under the hammer and sickle or the Red flag of China! "

As I lay in my bed that night, high above the city, secure in th e luxury of a first-class suite, an image of Claudine came to me . Her discourses on foreign debt haunted me . I tried to comfort myself b y recalling lessons learned in my macroeconomics courses at business school. After all, I told myself, I am here to help Indonesia rise out of a medieval economy and take its place in the modern industria l world. But I knew that in the morning I would look out my window , 24 Part I : 1963—1971 Saving a Country from Communism 25 across the opulence of the hotel's gardens and swimming pools, and see the hovels that fanned out for miles beyond . I would know that babies were dying out there for lack of food and potable water, an d that infants and adults alike were suffering from horrible disease s and living in terrible conditions.

Tossing and turning in my bed, I found it impossible to deny tha t Charlie and everyone else on our team were here for selfish reasons. We were promoting U.S. foreign policy and corporate interests. We were driven by greed rather than by any desire to make life better fo r the vast majority of Indonesians . A word came to mind : corporatocracy. I was not sure whether I had heard it before or had just invented it, but it seemed to describe perfectly the new elite who had made up their minds to attempt to rule the planet.

This was a close-knit fraternity of a few men with shared goals , and the fraternity's members moved easily and often between corporate boards and government positions. It struck me that the current president of the World Bank, Robert McNamara, was a perfect example. He had moved from a position as president of Ford Motor Company, to secretary of defense under presidents Kennedy an d Johnson, and now occupied the top post at the world's most powerful financial institution.

I also realized that my college professors had not understood the true nature of macroeconomics : that in many cases helping an economy grow only makes those few people who sit atop the pyrami d even richer, while it does nothing for those at the bottom except t o push them even lower. Indeed, promoting capitalism often results in a system that resembles medieval feudal societies. If any of my pro - fessors knew this, they had not admitted it — probably because bi g corporations, and the men who run them, fund colleges. Exposing the truth would undoubtedly cost those professors their jobs—just as such revelations could cost me mine.

These thoughts continued to disturb my sleep every night that I spent at the Hotel InterContinental Indonesia. In the end, my primary defense was a highly personal one : I had fought my way out of that New Hampshire town, the prep school, and the draft . Through a combination of coincidences and hard work, I had earned a place in the good life. I also took comfort in the fact that I was doing the right thing in the eyes of my culture . I was on my way to becomin g a successful and respected economist . I was doing what business school had prepared me for. I was helping implement a development model that was sanctioned by the best minds at the world's top think tanks.

Nonetheless, in the middle of the night I often had to console my - self with a promise that someday I would expose the truth . Then I would read myself to sleep with Louis L' Amour novels about gun - fighters in the Old West .


Selling My Soul

Our eleven-man team spent six days in Jakarta registering at th e U.S. Embassy, meeting various officials, organizing ourselves, and relaxing around the pool. The number of Americans who lived at the Hotel InterContinental amazed me. I took great pleasure in watching the beautiful young women — wives of U.S. oil and construction company executives—who passed their days at the pool and their evenings in the half dozen posh restaurants in and around the hotel.

Then Charlie moved our team to the mountain city of Bandung . The climate was milder, the poverty less obvious, and the distractions fewer. We were given a government guesthouse known as the Wisma, complete with a manager, a cook, a gardener, and a staff of servants. Built during the Dutch colonial period, the Wisma was a haven. Its spacious veranda faced tea plantations that flowed across rolling hills and up the slopes of Java's volcanic mountains. In addition to housing, we were provided with eleven Toyota off-road vehicles, each with a driver and translator. Finally, we were presented with memberships to the exclusive Bandung Golf and Racket Club , and we were housed in a suite of offices at the local headquarters o f Perusahaan Umum Listrik Negara (PLN), the government-owned electric utility company.

For me, the first several days in Bandung involved a series o f meetings with Charlie and Howard Parker. Howard was in his seventies and was the retired chief load forecaster for the New England Electric System. Now he was responsible for forecasting the amount of energy and generating capacity (the load) the island of Java would need over the next twenty-five years, as well as for breaking this down into city and regional forecasts. Since electric demand is highly correlated with economic growth, his forecasts depended on my economic projections. The rest of our team would develop the master plan around these forecasts, locating and designing power plants, transmission and distribution lines, and fuel transportation system s in a manner that would satisfy our projections as efficiently as possible. During our meetings, Charlie continually emphasized the importance of my job, and he badgered me about the need to be very optimistic in my forecasts. Claudine had been right; I was the key to the entire master plan.

"The first few weeks here," Charlie explained, "are about dat a collection."

He, Howard, and I were seated in big rattan chairs in Charlie's plush private office . The walls were decorated with batik tapestries depicting epic tales from the ancient Hindu texts of the Ramayana . Charlie puffed on a fat cigar.

"The engineers will put together a detailed picture of the current electric system, port capacities, roads, railroads, all those sorts o f things." He pointed his cigar at me . "You gotta act fast. By the end of month one, Howard'll need to get a pretty good idea about the ful l extent of the economic miracles that'll happen when we get the ne w grid online . By the end of the second month, he'll need more detail s — broken down into regions. The last month will be about filling in the gaps. That'll be critical. All of us will put our heads together then. So, before we leave we gotta be absolutely certain we have all the information we'll need. Home for Thanksgiving, that's my motto . There's no coming back ."

Howard appeared to be an amiable, grandfatherly type, but h e was actually a bitter old man who felt cheated by life . He had never reached the pinnacle of the New England Electric System and h e deeply resented it. "Passed over," he told me repeatedly, "because I refused to buy the company line ." He had been forced into retirement and then, unable to tolerate staying at home with his wife, had accepted a consulting job with MAIN. This was his second assignment, and I had been warned by both Einar and Charlie to watch 28 Selling My Soul 29 out for him. They described him with words like stubborn, mean, and vindictive.

As it turned out, Howard was one of my wisest teachers, although not one I was ready to accept at the time . He had never received the type of training Claudine had given me . I suppose they considered him too old, or perhaps too stubborn. Or maybe they figured he was only in it for the short run, until they could lure in a more pliable full-timer like me . In any case, from their standpoint, he turned ou t to be a problem. Howard clearly saw the situation and the role they wanted him to play, and he was determined not to be a pawn . All the adjectives Einar and Charlie had used to describe him were appropriate, but at least some of his stubbornness grew out of his personal commitment not to be their servant . I doubt he had ever heard the term economic hit man, but he knew they intended to use him to promote a form of imperialism he could not accept.

He took me aside after one of our meetings with Charlie . He wore a hearing aid and fiddled with the little box under his shirt that con - trolled its volume.

"This is between you and me," Howard said in a hushed voice . We were standing at the window in the office we shared, looking out at the stagnant canal that wound past the PLN building . A young woman was bathing in its foul waters, attempting to retain some semblance of modesty by loosely draping a sarong around her other - wise naked body. "They'll try to convince you that this economy is going to skyrocket," he said. "Charlie's ruthless. Don't let him get to you . "

His words gave me a sinking feeling, but also a desire to convince him that Charlie was right; after all, my career depended on pleasing my MAIN bosses.

 "Surely this economy will boom," I said, my eyes drawn to the woman in the canal. "Just look at what's happening ."

"So there you are," he muttered, apparently unaware of the scene in front of us. "You've already bought their line, have you? "

A movement up the canal caught my attention . An elderly man had descended the bank, dropped his pants, and squatted at the edge of the water to answer nature's call . The young woman saw him but was undeterred ; she continued bathing. I turned away from the window and looked directly at Howard.

"I've been around," I said . "I may be young, but I just got back from three years in South America. I've seen what can happen whe n oil is discovered . Things change fast."

"Oh, I've been around too," he said mockingly. "A great many years. I'll tell you something, young man . I don't give a damn for your oil discoveries and all that. I forecasted electric loads all my life — during the Depression, World War II, times of bust and boom . I've seen what Route 128's so-called Massachusetts Miracle did fo r Boston. And I can say for sure that no electric load ever grew b y more than 7 to 9 percent a year for any sustained period . And that's in the best of times. Six percent is more reasonable ."

I stared at him. Part of me suspected he was right, but I felt defensive. I knew I had to convince him, because my own conscience cried out for justification .

"Howard, this isn't Boston . This is a country where, until now, n o one could even get electricity. Things are different here ."

He turned on his heel and waved his hand as though he could brush me away.

 "Go ahead," he snarled. "Sell out. I don't give a damn what you come up with ." He jerked his chair from behind his desk and fell int o it. "I'll make my electricity forecast based on what I believe, not some pie-in-the-sky economic study." He picked up his pencil and started to scribble on a pad of paper.

It was a challenge I could not ignore . I went and stood in front of his desk.

"You'll look pretty stupid if I come up with what everyone expect s — a boom to rival the California gold rush — and you forecast electricity growth at a rate comparable to Boston in the 1960s "

He slammed the pencil down and glared at me. "Unconscionable ! That's what it is. You — all of you — " he waved his arms at the office s beyond our walls, "you've sold your souls to the devil . You're in it for the money. Now," he feigned a smile and reached under his shirt, "I'm turning off my hearing aid and going back to work ."

It shook me to the core. I stomped out of the room and headed for Charlie's office . Halfway there, I stopped, uncertain about what I intended to accomplish . Instead, I turned and walked down the stairs, out the door, into the afternoon sunlight . The young woman was climbing out of the canal, her sarong wrapped tightly about he r body. The elderly man had disappeared . Several boys played in the 30 Part I : 1963—1971 Selling My Soul 31 canal, splashing and shouting at each other. An older woman was standing knee-deep in the water, brushing her teeth; another was scrubbing clothes.

A huge lump grew in my throat. I sat down on a slab of broken concrete, trying to disregard the pungent odor from the canal . I fought hard to hold back the tears; I needed to figure out why I felt so miserable .

You're in it for the money . I heard Howard's words, over and over. He had struck a raw nerve .

The little boys continued to splash each other, their gleeful voice s filling the air. I wondered what I could do. What would it take to make me carefree like them? The question tormented me as I sat there watching them cavort in their blissful innocence, apparently unaware of the risk they took by playing in that fetid water. An elderly, hunchbacked man with a gnarled cane hobbled along the ban k above the canal. He stopped and watched the boys, and his face broke into a toothless grin.

Perhaps I could confide in Howard ; maybe together we would arrive at a solution . I immediately felt a sense of relief. I picked up a little stone and threw it into the canal . As the ripples faded, however, so did my euphoria. I knew I could do no such thing . Howard was old and bitter. He had already passed up opportunities to advance his own career. Surely, he would not buckle now. I was young, just starting out, and certainly did not want to end up like him .

Staring into the water of that putrid canal, I once again saw images of the New Hampshire prep school on the hill, where I had spent vacations alone while the other boys went off to their debutante balls. Slowly the sorry fact settled in . Once again, there was n o one I could talk to.

That night I lay in bed, thinking for a long time about the people in my life — Howard, Charlie, Claudine, Ann, Einar, Uncle Frank — wondering what my life would be like if I had never met them . Where would I be living? Not Indonesia, that was for sure . I wondered also about my future, about where I was headed. I pondered the decision confronting me. Charlie had made it clear that he expected Howard and me to come up with growth rates of at least 17 percent per annum. What kind of forecast would I produce?

Suddenly a thought came to me that soothed my soul . Why had it not occurred to me before? The decision was not mine at all . Howard had said that he would do what he considered right, regardless of my conclusions. I could please my bosses with a high economic forecast and he would make his own decision ; my work would have no effect on the master plan . People kept emphasizing the importance of m y role, but they were wrong . A great burden had been lifted. I fell into a deep sleep .

 A few days later, Howard was taken ill with a severe amoebic attack. We rushed him to a Catholic missionary hospital. The doctors prescribed medication and strongly recommended that he return immediately to the United States. Howard assured us that he already had all the data he needed and could easily complete the load forecast from Boston . His parting words to me were a reiteration of his earlier warning .

 "No need to cook the numbers," he said . "I'll not be part of that scam, no matter what you say about the miracles of economic growth! "

PART I I : 1971-1975


My Role as Inquisitor

Our contracts with the Indonesian government, the Asian Development Bank, and USAID required that someone on our team visit all the major population centers in the area covered by the master plan . I was designated to fulfill this condition . As Charlie put it, "You survived the Amazon ; you know how to handle bugs, snakes, and bad water."

Along with a driver and translator, I visited many beautiful places and stayed in some pretty dismal lodgings. I met with local business and political leaders and listened to their opinions about the prospects for economic growth. However, I found most of them reluctant to share information with me. They seemed intimidated by my presence. Typically, they told me that I would have to check with their bosses, with government agencies, or with corporate headquarters i n Jakarta. I sometimes suspected some sort of conspiracy was directed at me.

These trips were usually short, not more than two or three days . In between, I returned to the Wisma in Bandung. The woman who managed it had a son a few years younger than me . His name was Rasmon, but to everyone except his mother he was Rasy. A student of economics at a local university, he immediately took an interest i n my work . In fact, I suspected that at some point he would approach me for a job. He also began to teach me Bahasa Indonesia .

Creating an easy-to-learn language had been President Sukarno' s highest priority after Indonesia won its independence from Holland . 37

Over 350 languages and dialects are spoken throughout the archipelago,' and Sukarno realized that his country needed a commo n vocabulary in order to unite people from the many islands and cultures. He recruited an international team of linguists, and Bahas a Indonesia was the highly successful result. Based on Malay, it avoid s many of the tense changes, irregular verbs, and other complication s that characterize most languages . By the early 1970s, the majority o f Indonesians spoke it, although they continued to rely on Javanes e and other local dialects within their own communities. Rasy was a great teacher with a wonderful sense of humor, and compared to learning Shuar or even Spanish, Bahasa was easy.

Rasv owned a motor scooter and took it upon himself to introduce me to his city and people . "I'll show you a side of Indonesia you haven't seen," he promised one evening, and urged me to hop on behind him.

We passed shadow-puppet shows, musicians playing traditional instruments, fire-blowers, jugglers, and street vendors selling ever y imaginable ware, from contraband American cassettes to rare indigenous artifacts. Finally, we ended up at a tiny coffeehouse populate d by young men and women whose clothes, hats, and hairstyles would have been right in fashion at a Beatles concert in the late 1960s ; however, everyone was distinctly Indonesian . Rasy introduced me to a group seated around a table and we sat down.

They all spoke English, with varying degrees of fluency, but they appreciated and encouraged my attempts at Bahasa . They talke d about this openly and asked me why Americans never learned their language . I had no answer. Nor could I explain why I was the only American or European in this part of the city, even though you could always find plenty of us at the Golf and Racket Club, the posh restaurants, the movie theaters, and the upscale supermarkets.

It was a night I shall always remember. Rasy and his friends treated me as one of their own . I enjoyed a sense of euphoria from being there, sharing their city, food, and music, smelling the clove cigarettes and other aromas that were part of their lives, joking an d laughing with them. It was like the Peace Corps all over again, an d I found myself wondering why I had thought that I wanted to travel first class and separate myself from people like this. As the night wore on, they became increasingly interested in learning my thoughts about their country and about the war my country was fighting i n Vietnam. Every one of them was horrified by what they referred to a s "the illegal invasion," and they were relieved to discover I shared their feelings.

By the time Rasy and I returned to the guesthouse it was late an d the place was dark. I thanked him profusely for inviting me into hi s world: he thanked me for opening up to his friends . We promised to do it again, hugged, and headed off to our respective rooms.

That experience with Rasy whetted my appetite for spending more time away from the MAIN team. The next morning, I had a meeting with Charlie and told him I was becoming frustrated trying to obtain information from local people . In addition, most of the statistics I needed for developing economic forecasts could only be found a t government offices in Jakarta . Charlie and I agreed that I would need to spend one to two weeks in Jakarta.

He expressed sympathy for me, having to abandon Bandung for the steaming metropolis, and I professed to detest the idea. Secretly, however, I was excited by the opportunity to have some time t o myself, to explore Jakarta and to live at the elegant Hotel InterContinental Indonesia . Once in Jakarta, however, I discovered that I now viewed life from a different perspective . The night spent with Rasy and the young Indonesians, as well as my travels around the country, had changed me . I found that I saw my fellow Americans i n a different light. The young wives seemed not quite so beautiful . The chain-link fence around the pool and the steel bars outside the windows on the lower floors, which I had barely noticed before, no w took on an ominous appearance. The food in the hotel's elegant restaurants seemed insipid.

I noticed something else too . During my meetings with political and business leaders, I became aware of subtleties in the way the y treated me. I had not perceived it before, but now I saw that many o f them resented my presence. For example, when they introduced m e to each other, they often used Bahasa terms that according to m y dictionary translated to inquisitor and interrogator. I purposely neglected disclosing my knowledge of their language — even my translator knew only that I could recite a few stock phrases — and I purchased a good Bahasa/English dictionary, which I often use d after leaving them.

Were these addresses just coincidences of language?

Misinter- a game than reality. It was as though we were playing a game of poker. pretations in my dictionary? I tried to convince myself they were . We kept our cards hidden. We could not trust each other or count on Yet, the more time I spent with these men, the more convinced I be- the reliability of the information we shared. Yet, this game was came that I was an intruder, that an order to cooperate had come deadly serious, and its outcome would impact millions of lives for down from someone, and that they had little choice but to comply . I decades to come. had no idea whether a government official, a banker, a general, o r the U.S. Embassy had sent the order. All I knew was that although they invited me into their offices, offered me tea, politely answered my questions, and in every overt manner seemed to welcome my presence, beneath the surface there was a shadow of resignation and is rancor.

It made me wonder, too, about their answers to my questions and 4 about the validity of their data . For instance, I could never just walk into an office with my translator and meet with someone ; we first had to set up an appointment. In itself, this would not have seemed so strange, except that doing so was outrageously time consuming . Since the phones seldom worked, we had to drive through the traffic-choked streets, which were laid out in such a contorted manne r that it could take an hour to reach a building only blocks away . Once there, we were asked to fill out several forms. Eventually, a male secretary would appear. Politely— always with the courteous smile for 1 I which the Javanese are famous—he would question me about th e types of information I desired, and then he would establish a tim e for the meeting. I I Without exception, the scheduled appointment was at least several days away, and when the meeting finally occurred I was hande d a folder of prepared materials . The industry owners gave me five - and ten-year plans, the bankers had charts and graphs, and the gov - ernment officials provided lists of projects that were in the process of 1 leaving the drawing boards to become engines of economic growth. Everything these captains of commerce and government provided, and all they said during the interviews, indicated that Java wa s poised for perhaps the biggest boom any economy had ever enjoyed . No one — not a single person — ever questioned this premise or gave me any negative information . As I headed back to Bandung, though, I found myself wondering about all these experiences ; something was deeply disturbing . It occurred to me that everything I was doing in Indonesia was more like a game than reality. It was as though we were playing a game of poker.

We kept our cards hidden. We could not trust each other or count on the reliability of the information we shared. Yet, this game was  deadly serious, and its outcome would impact millions of lives for decades to come.

CHAPTER 7 Civilization on Trial

"I'm taking you to a dalang," Rasy beamed. "You know, the famou s Indonesian puppet masters." He was obviously pleased to have me back in Bandung. "There's a very important one in town tonight: '

He drove me on his scooter through parts of his city I did no t know existed, through sections filled with traditional Javanes e lcampong houses, which looked like a poor person's version of tiny tile-roofed temples. Gone were the stately Dutch Colonial mansion s and office buildings I had grown to expect . The people were obviously poor, yet they bore themsel v es with great pride. They wore threadbare but clean batik sarongs, brightly colored blouses, and wide-brimmed straw hats. Everywhere we went we were greete d with smiles and laughter. When we stopped, children rushed up to touch me and feel the fabric of my jeans. One little girl stuck a fragrant frangipani blossom in my hair.

We parked the scooter near a sidewalk theater where several hundred people were gathered, some standing, others sitting in portabl e chairs. The night was clear and beautiful . Although we were in the heart of the oldest section of Bandung, there were no streetlights, s o the stars sparkled over our heads. The air was filled with the aroma s of wood fires, peanuts, and cloves.

Rasy disappeared into the crowd and soon returned with many of the young people I had met at the coffeehouse . They offered me ho t tea, little cakes, and sate, tiny bits of meat cooked in peanut oil. I must have hesitated before accepting the latter, because one of the women pointed at a small fire. "Very fresh meat," she laughed. "Just cooked." Then the music started—the hauntingly magical sounds of the garnalong, an instrument that conjures images of temple bells . "The dalang plays all the music by himself," Rasy whispered. "He also works all the puppets and speaks their voices, several languages . We'll translate for you ." It was a remarkable performance, combining traditional legends with current events . I would later learn that the dalang is a shaman who does his work in trance . He had over a hundred puppets and he spoke for each in a different voice . It was a night I will never forget, and one that has influenced the rest of my life . After completing a classic selection from the ancient texts of the Ramayana, the dalang produced a puppet of Richard Nixon, complete with the distinctive long nose and sagging jowls. The U.S. president was dressed like Uncle Sam, in a stars-and-stripes top hat and tails . He was accompanied by another puppet, which wore a three-piece pin-striped suit. The second puppet carried in one hand a bucket decorated with dollar signs. He used his free hand to wave an American flag over Nixon's head in the manner of a slave fanning a master . A map of the Middle and Far East appeared behind the two, the various countries hanging from hooks in their respective positions . Nixon immediately approached the map, lifted Vietnam off its hook , and thrust it to his mouth. He shouted something that was translated as, "Bitter! Rubbish. We don't need any more of this!" Then h e tossed it into the bucket and proceeded to do the same with othe r countries. I was surprised, however, to see that his next selections did no t include the domino nations of Southeast Asia. Rather, they were all Middle Eastern countries — Palestine, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Iraq , Syria, and Iran . After that, he turned to Pakistan and Afghanistan. Each time, the Nixon doll screamed out some epithet before drop - ping the country into his bucket, and in every instance, his vituperative words were anti-Islamic : "Muslim dogs," "Mohammed's monsters," and "Islamic devils ." The crowd became very excited, the tension mounting with eac h new addition to the bucket . They seemed torn between fits of laughter, shock, and rage. At times, I sensed they took offense at the puppeteer's language . I also felt intimidated ; I stood out in this crowd, taller 42 Civilization on Trial 43 than the rest, and I worried that they might direct their anger at me . Then Nixon said something that made my scalp tingle when Ras y translated it.

"Give this one to the World Bank. See what it can do to make u s some money off Indonesia." He lifted Indonesia from the map and moved to drop it into the bucket, but just at that moment another puppet leaped out of the shadows. This puppet represented an Indonesian man, dressed in batik shirt and khaki slacks, and he wore a sign with his name clearly printed on it .

"A popular Bandung politician," Rasy explained .

This puppet literally flew between Nixon and Bucket Man and held up his hand . "Stop!" he shouted . "Indonesia is sovereign."

The crowd burst into applause . Then Bucket Man lifted his flag and thrust it like a spear into the Indonesian, who staggered an d died a most dramatic death. The audience members booed, hooted, screamed, and shook their fists. Nixon and Bucket Man stood there, looking out at us. They bowed and left the stage.

"I think I should go," I said to Rasy.

He placed a hand protectively around my shoulder. "It's okay," he said. "They have nothing against you personally." I wasn't so sure.

Later we all retired to the coffeehouse. Rasy and the others assured me that they had not been informed ahead of time about the Nixon-World Bank skit . "You never know what to expect from that puppeteer," one of the young men observed .

I wondered aloud whether this had been staged in my honor. Someone laughed and said I had a very big ego . "Typical of Americans," he added, patting my back congenially.

"Indonesians are very conscious of politics," the man in the chair beside me said . "Don't Americans go to shows like this?

" A beautiful woman, an English major at the university, sat across the table from me . "But you do work for the World Bank, don't you? " she asked.

I told her that my current assignment was for the Asian Development Bank and the United States Agency for International Development.

'Aren't they really all the same?" She didn't wait for an answer. "Isn't it like the play tonight showed? Doesn't your government look at Indonesia and other countries as though we are just a bunch of . . " She searched for the word .

"Grapes," one of her friends coached.

"Exactly. A bunch of grapes . You can pick and choose . Keep England. Eat China. And throw away Indonesia .

" 'After you've taken all our oil," another woman added.

I tried to defend myself but was not at all up to the task. I wanted to take pride in the fact that I had come to this part of town and ha d stayed to watch the entire anti-U.S. performance, which I might have construed as a personal assault. I wanted them to see the courage of what I had done, to know that I was the only member o f my team who bothered to learn Bahasa or had any desire to take i n their culture, and to point out that I was the sole foreigner attending this production . But I decided it would be more prudent not to mention any of this. Instead, I tried to refocus the conversation. I asked them why they thought the dalang had singled out Muslim countries, except for Vietnam .

 The beautiful English major laughed at this. "Because that's the plan." "Vietnam is just a holding action," one of the men interjected , "like Holland was for the Nazis. A stepping-stone ."

"The real target," the woman continued, "is the Muslim world ."

I could not let this go unanswered . "Surely," I protested, "you can't believe that the United States is anti-Islamic "

"Oh no?" she asked . "Since when? You need to read one of you r own historians — a Brit named Toynbee . Back in the fifties he predicted that the real war in the next century would not be betwee n Communists and capitalists, but between Christians and Muslims ." `

Arnold Toynbee said that?" I was stunned .

"Yes. Read Civilization on Trial and The World and the West." "But why should there be such animosity between Muslims an d Christians?" I asked .

 Looks were exchanged around the table. They appeared to find it hard to believe that I could ask such a foolish question .

"Because," she said slowly, as though addressing someone slowwitted or hard of hearing, "the West — especially its leader, the U .S. — is determined to take control of all the world, to become the greatest empire in history. It has already gotten very close to succeeding. 44 Part II: 1971—1975 Civilization on Trial 45 The Soviet Union currently stands in its way, but the Soviets will no t endure. Toynbee could see that. They have no religion, no faith, no substance behind their ideology. History demonstrates that faith — soul, a belief in higher powers — is essential . We Muslims have it. We have it more than anyone else in the world, even more than th e Christians. So we wait. We grow strong."

"We will take our time," one of the men chimed in, "and then like a snake we will strike ."

 "What a horrible thought!" I could barely contain myself "What can we do to change this?"

The English major looked me directly in the eyes . "Stop being so greedy," she said, "and so selfish . Realize that there is more to the world than your big houses and fancy stores. People are starving an d you worry about oil for your cars. Babies are dying of thirst and yo u search the fashion magazines for the latest styles. Nations like ours are drowning in poverty, but your people don't even hear our cries for help. You shut your ears to the voices of those who try to tell yo u these things. You label them radicals or Communists . You must ope n your hearts to the poor and downtrodden, instead of driving the m further into poverty and servitude. There's not much time left. If yo u don't change, you're doomed ."

 Several days later the popular Bandung politician, whose puppet stood up to Nixon and was impaled by Bucket Man, was struck an d killed by a hit-and-run driver.

CHAPTER 8 Jesus, Seen Differently

The memory of that dalang stuck with me. So did the words of the beautiful English major. That night in Bandung catapulted me to a new level of thinking and feeling . While I had not exactly ignored the implications of what we were doing in Indonesia, my reaction s had been ruled by emotions, and I usually had been able to calm m y feelings by calling on reason, on the example of history, and on th e biological imperative. I had justified our involvement as part of th e human condition, convincing myself that Einar, Charlie, and the rest of us were simply acting as men always have : taking care of ourselves and our families .

My discussion with those young Indonesians, however, forced me to see another aspect of the issue . Through their eyes, I realized that a selfish approach to foreign policy does not serve or protect futur e generations anywhere . It is myopic, like the annual reports of th e corporations and the election strategies of the politicians who formulate that foreign policy.

As it turned out, the data I needed for my economic forecasts required frequent visits to Jakarta . I took advantage of my time alone there to ponder these matters and to write about them in a journal. I wandered the streets of that city, handed money to beggars, and attempted to engage lepers, prostitutes, and street urchins in conversation.

Meanwhile, I pondered the nature of foreign aid, and I considered the legitimate role that developed countries (DCs, in World 46 Part II: 1971—1975 47 Bank jargon) might play in helping alleviate poverty and misery in less-developed countries (LDCs). I began to wonder when foreign aid is genuine and when it is only greedy and self-serving . Indeed, I began to question whether such aid is ever altruistic, and if not, whether that could be changed . I was certain that countries like my own should take decisive action to help the sick and starving of th e world, but I was equally certain that this was seldom — if ever — the prime motivation for our intervention.

I kept coming back to one main question : if the objective of foreign aid is imperialism, is that so wrong? I often found myself envy - ing people like Charlie who believed so strongly in our system tha t they wanted to force it on the rest of the world. I doubted whethe r limited resources would allow the whole world to live the opulent life of the United States, when even the United States had millions o f citizens living in poverty. In addition, it wasn't entirely clear to me tha t people in other nations actually want to live like us . Our own statistics about violence, depression, drug abuse, divorce, and crime indicated that although ours was one of the wealthiest societies in history, it may also be one of the least happy societies. Why would we want others to emulate us ?

Perhaps Claudine had warned me of all this. I was no longer sur e what it was she had been trying to tell me . In any case, intellectual arguments aside, it had now become painfully clear that my days of innocence were gone. I wrote in my journal:

Is anyone in the U.S. innocent? Although those at th e very pinnacle of the economic pyramid gain the most , millions of us depend — either directly or indirectly—o n the exploitation of the LDCs for our livelihoods. The resources and cheap labor that feed nearly all our businesses come from places like Indonesia, and very littl e ever makes its way back . The loans of foreign aid ensur e that today's children and their grandchildren will be hel d hostage. They will have to allow our corporations to ravage their natural resources and will have to forego education , health, and other social services merely to pay us back . The fact that our own companies already received mos t of this money to build the power plants, airports, and industrial parks does not factor into this formula . Does the excuse that most Americans are unaware of this constitute innocence? Uninformed and intentionally misinformed , yes — but innocent ?

Of course, I had to face the fact that I was now numbered amon g those who actively misinform.

The concept of a worldwide holy war was a disturbing one, bu t the longer I contemplated it, the more convinced I became of its possibility. It seemed to me, however, that if this jihad were to occur it would be less about Muslims versus Christians than it would b e about LDCs versus DCs, perhaps with Muslims at the forefront. We in the DCs were the users of resources; those in the LDCs were th e suppliers. It was the colonial mercantile system all over again, set u p to make it easy for those with power and limited natural resources to exploit those with resources but no power.

I did not have a copy of Toynbee with me, but I knew enough history to understand that suppliers who are exploited long enough will rebel. I only had to return to the American Revolution and Tom Paine for a model . I recalled that Britain justified its taxes by claiming that England was providing aid to the colonies in the form of military protection against the French and the Indians . The colonists had a very different interpretation

What Paine offered to his countrymen in the brilliant Common Sense was the soul that my young Indonesian friends had referred to — an idea, a faith in the justice of a higher power, and a religion o f freedom and equality that was diametrically opposed to the Britis h monarchy and its elitist class systems. What Muslims offered was similar: faith in a higher power and a belief that developed countrie s have no right to subjugate and exploit the rest of the world . Like colonial minutemen, Muslims were threatening to fight for thei r rights, and like the British in the 1770s, we classified such actions a s terrorism. History appeared to be repeating itself.

I wondered what sort of a world we might have if the Unite d States and its allies diverted all the monies expended in colonial wars — like the one in Vietnam — to eradicating world hunger or t o making education and basic health care available to all people , including our own . I wondered how future generations would be 48 Part II : 1971—1975 Jesus, Seen Differently 49 affected if we committed to alleviating the sources of misery and to protecting watersheds, forests, and other natural areas that ensur e clean water, air, and the things that feed our spirits as well as ou r bodies. I could not believe that our Founding Fathers had envisioned the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness to exist only fo r Americans, so why were we now implementing strategies that promoted the imperialist values they had fought against ?

On my last night in Indonesia, I awoke from a dream, sat up in bed, and switched on the light. I had the feeling that someone was in the room with me. I peered around at the familiar Hotel InterContinental furniture, the batik tapestries, and the framed shadow puppets hanging on the walls. Then the dream came back.

I had seen Christ standing in front of me . He seemed like the same Jesus I had talked with every night when, as a young boy, I shared my thoughts with him after saying my formal prayers . Except that the Jesus of my childhood was fair-skinned and blond, while this one had curly black hair and a dark complexion . He bent down and heaved something up to his shoulder . I expected a cross. Instead, I saw the axle of a car with the attached wheel rim protrudin g above his head, forming a metallic halo. Grease dripped like bloo d down his forehead. He straightened, peered into my eyes, and said, "If I were to come now, you would see me differently." I asked him why. "Because," he answered, "the world has changed."

The clock told me it was nearly daylight . I knew I could not go back to sleep, so I dressed, took the elevator to the empty lobby, an d wandered into the gardens around the swimming pool. The moon was bright; the sweet smell of orchids filled the air. I sat down in a lounge chair and wondered what I was doing here, why the coincidences of my life had taken me along this path, why Indonesia . I knew my life had changed, but I had no idea how drastically .

Ann and I met in Paris on my way home, to attempt reconciliation . Even during this French vacation, however, we continued to quarrel . Although there were many special and beautiful moments, I think we both came to the realization that our long history of anger and resentment was too large an obstacle . Besides, there was so much I could not tell her. The only person I could share such things with was Claudine, and I thought about her constantly . Ann and I landed at Boston's Logan Airport and took a taxi to our separate apartments in the Back Bay.

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