Anthology – Peoples’ Plan for Life, Now and Forever …
“What happened next astounded me. While in the reference section of the BPL an attractive brunette woman came up and sat in a chair across the table from me. 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 used 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 you 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 DHMs.
“Claudine told me that there were two primary objectives of my 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 paid 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 of dollars in a country. Specifically, I would produce studies that projected economic growth twenty to twenty-five years into the future 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 investing in a new national railroad network or a telecommunications 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 it would bring superior benefits to the GNP.
“The unspoken aspect of every one of these projects was that they were intended to create large profits for the contractors, and to make 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 taken 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…