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A Game as Old as Empire: The Secret World of…

A Game as Old as Empire: The Secret World of Economic Hit Men and the Web… (original 2007; edition 2007)

by Steven Hiatt, John Perkins (Introduction)

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1381141,279 (3.46)2
John Perkins' controversial and bestselling expose, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, revealed for the first time the secret world of economic hit men (EHMs). But Perkins' Confessions contained only a small piece of this sinister puzzle. The full story is far bigger, deeper, and darker than Perkins' personal account revealed. Here other EHMs, journalists, and investigators join Perkins to tell their own stories, providing the first probing and expansive look into this pervasive web of systematic corruption. With chapters spotlighting how specific countries around the globe have been subverted, A Game As Old As Empire uncovers the inner workings of the institutions behind these economic manipulations. The contributors detail concrete examples of how the "economic hit man game" is still being played- an officer of an offshore bank hiding hundreds of millions of dollars in stolen money, IMF advisers slashing Ghana's education and health programs, a mercenary defending a European oil company in Nigeria, a consultant rewriting Iraqi oil law, and executives financing warlords to secure supplies of coltan ore in Congo. Together they show how this system of corruption and plunder operates in real life, and reveal the price that the rest of the world must pay as a result. Most important, A Game As Old As Empire connects the dots, showing how the various pieces of this system come together to create the world's first truly global empire.… (more)
Title:A Game as Old as Empire: The Secret World of Economic Hit Men and the Web of Global Corruption
Authors:Steven Hiatt
Other authors:John Perkins (Introduction)
Info:Berrett-Koehler Publishers (2007), Hardcover, 310 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:Ex Libris David G. Nye

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A Game as Old as Empire: The Secret World of Economic Hit Men and the Web of Global Corruption by Steven Hiatt (2007)


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This book is a compilation of essays written by former international bankers, development economists, foreign aid workers, and others. It's about offshore banking, bad loan schemes, "debt relief," tax evasion, incompetent World Bank projects. It's about the people who profit from these things, and the developing countries who get hosed by them.

I thought about writing a post entitled "Who was raped in order to make your cellphone?" One chapter explains the war in the Congo and the quest for an element called "coltan" used in cell phones, computers, PlayStations, etc. You can read the link instead for a full story. Some of the ingredients in your cellphone probably comes from the Congo....
The chapter about coltan starts with the story of a Congolese woman who gives birth to a still-born son (the pregnancy was the result of a rape) and minutes later is raped and tortured by men from the plundering Rwandan army. Really messed-up stories from Christian aid workers in the Congo. Why was she raped?

American and European multinationals who are in desperate need of the high-priced ore helped fund the Rwandan and Ugandan armies in their invasion of the Congo, where the ore is located, in order to help facilitate its mining. The armies systematically rape women of all ages and conditions in the villages they come across, like a hate crime. The ore is then exported via Rwanda to the West and the proceeds go mostly to the government who sponsor the atrocities. The multinational firms basically just look the other way at how it's acquired. Many Western companies acquired the mines when the Congolese government sold them off. Many former elected government officials serve on the boards of these firms, like Alcatel. Firms like Hewlett-Packard, Dell, Nokia, etc. claim not to use coltan from the Congo, but it's impossible for them not to.

Think Blood Diamond except with coltan. The violence has really warped these Congolese societies, as you might imagine. Truth is always much more unbelievable than fiction ever could be.
*UPDATE* Nicholas Kristof has an op-ed from the Congo today.

None of the other chapters are this graphic and emotional, however. Most are much more academic and it would help you to have an extensive economics background to read and critique them.

Confessions blew my mind 2 years ago, shook me to the core of my being like few books ever have. If you want an intriguing and sometimes suspenseful read, it's your book. If you're looking for more information and a more academic read then Empire is your book.

The 2 books together have taught me to always be aware of who I'm working for and be careful how I pursue a career in development. It's also made me think again about putting faith in models and being dogmatic about market efficiencies when there are so many caveats out there. ( )
  justindtapp | Jun 3, 2015 |
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