A Game as Old as Empire
Steven Hiatt, ed.
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Buy *A Game as Old as Empire: The Secret World of Economic Hit Men and the Web of Global Corruption* by Steven Hiatt online

A Game as Old as Empire: The Secret World of Economic Hit Men and the Web of Global Corruption
Steven Hiatt, ed.
310 pages
February 2007
rated 5 of 5 possible stars

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Why do people around the world hate the United States? Who are economic Hit Men (EHMs), what are their jobs, and why should we want to put a stop to their dealings? Why is “Free Trade,” a term much in vogue, really an oxymoron? What, if anything, can we do to make sure that Third World countries in the future are no longer victims of the First World forces such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF), which claim to be working to aid them? These and many other extremely important questions are asked and answered in A Game as Old as Empire, edited by Steven Hiatt and introduced by a person who is perhaps the world’s most well-known former EHM, John Perkins, who authored the best-selling Confessions of an Economic Hit Man. It is an engrossing look into the underbelly of greed and corruption being spread to countries around the world in the name of furthering freedom and democracy.

Each chapter is from a different contributor with his/her own experiences of seeing with their own eyes what types of devastation can be wrought by economic manipulation of countries' economies. Money that’s loaned to Third World countries often goes to the pockets and private bank accounts of the dictators who run them rather than to the poor of the country, who really need the aid the most. What’s more, the First World countries that loan the money expect to be repaid at some time, and the massive burden of repayment falls on the shoulders of the people of the country who can least afford to pay the ever-increasing interest rates and other costs. The First World countries and banks doing the loaning and giving the aid know this very well yet continue loaning money to these countries over and over again, ensuring themselves a steady income from these accrued interest rates and debts coming in.

What’s the result of manipulating the world’s money? Economies and the environment damaged even further, increased poverty and starvation, civil wars and people dying, just so the filthiest of the filthy rich can get even richer. Also, what better way is there for First World countries - the United States and England, to name two - to gain many of the benefits of having colonies and possessions without being forced to rule them, maintain them, and look after the welfare of the citizens of said countries?

Aid is much-needed, and a percentage of it can and does help at least some of the people who need it the most. It should not be stopped. But better ways of distributing the money, food, and other forms of aid surely can be found. The current system is all too often concerned mainly with making sure countries are really not helped in any major ways, the easier to exploit the countries’ riches and natural resources. Economic hit men are behind scenes working to make these types of takeovers happen:

A London bank sets up an offshore subsidiary, staffed by men and women with respectable university degrees dressed in the same designer outfits you would ex- pect to see in the City or an Wall Street. Yet their work each day consists of hiding embezzled funds, laundering the profits from drug sales, and helping multi- National corporations evade taxes. They are economic hit men. An IMF (International Monetary Fund) team arrives in an African capital armed with the power to extend vitally needed loans--at the price of slashing its education and European exporters. They are economic hit men. A consultant sets up shop in Baghdad’s Green Zone, where, protected by the U.S. Army, he writes new laws governing exploitation of Iraq’s oil reserves. He is an economic hit man.
To say that reading A Game as Old as Empire is an eye-opening experience is an understatement. Everyone concerned about the terrible plight of Third World countries should be informed with the knowledge to be gained from this highly illuminating book. Money and other aid which we have been led to believe is going to help the poorest of the poor around the world instead too frequently goes to the dictators of these countries, making the lives of the most downtrodden that much more miserable - and makeing the general populations fear any “help” from First World countries, instead of welcoming it.

Don’t hate the players, don’t hate the game; hate the reasons for playing the game, which is, plainly and simply put, to increase the wealth and power of the already wealthiest and most powerful countries in the world and to further the empires of First World countries. We need to change this current system of trying to dominate the countries of the world in the name of giving them as much aid as we possibly can. Advice and further information about the efforts of people to resist this attempted domination is given in the book’s final chapter, “Global Uprising: The Web of Resistance,” Buy this book, read it, be shocked by it. If we work together, there’s at least the glimmer of a hope we can change the ways aid and loans are currently being given and can one day accomplish the long-hoped for goal of wiping out hunger and poverty in the world forever.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at www.curledup.com. © Douglas R. Cobb, 2007

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