Posted by & filed under Multilingual identity.

Are you multilingual and looking for a job? How about being a spy or economic hit man?

Candidate character description:

Multilingual, sensitive to other cultures, can mix with local populations in difficult areas around the world, can get used to harsh living conditions, can gain trust of people if different countries, smart, and resourceful.

Education: Economics, international affairs.

Job: Be an economic hit man. Lie for the US government. Manipulate international leaders and governments to accept “economic aid” contracts and bad loans that favor the US and not the recipient country.

I fit the character description and educational profile, but the job doesn’t appeal to me. I’ve been mistaken on several occasions as a spy, but I never knew the term “economic hitman” until the book Confessions of an Economic Hit Man by John Perkins was published. I didn’t expect to relate so well to the narrator. I was just curious about the book because several people had mentioned it to me as a good book to read to understand how the US exaggerates how much foreign aid it gives to developing countries.

There were several parallels between my life and the author’s life, despite our 30 year age difference.

1)He attended a New England boarding school, but was not from a family that could afford such an education. (His dad was a teacher at the school.)

  • I got a scholarship to go to a college preparatory school for two years.2) In college, he was recruited by the National Security Agency. The CIA and US Military tried recruiting me after college because of my foreign language skills.
    He was a Peace Corps volunteer in Ecuador.
  • My sister was a Peace Corps volunteer there.3) In Latin America, he went off the beaten-path and went to places most Americans never visited. Since he spoke Spanish, local people were very fond of him and showed him things most Americans never saw in depth, including the slums and marginal neighborhoods.
  • Same with me!4) His first job involved projecting electricity usage in Indonesia and inflating those numbers.
  • I had a college internship at the French Electricity Company charting electricity usage. (I didn’t over-inflate any numbers.)5) He conned foreign leaders and government agencies into accepting loans for US foreign aid programs that the governments could never pay back. The loans mostly went to US construction and engineering firms to build dams, oil company and infrastructure projects, and building sites the countries may not have even needed. Some of the dams and electric grid projects displaced people, polluted waterways and caused uproars.
  • When I worked in Bosnia, my salary was paid out of the US Department of Agriculture’s Monetization programs that dumped surplus American subsidized crops and milk powder on foreign markets. The USDA “gave” the surplus crops to US non governmental organizations working in developing or post-crisis countries to sell on the local market and use the proceeds to fund their programs. Well, the subsidized crops could be cheaper than the locally produced ones. So, then these NGOs who were supposedly doing good deeds could dominate the local market for these crops and outsell local producers. I was working on agricultural development programs. Therefore, outselling the local farmers was counterproductive. Luckily, none of my projects involved the same USDA Monetization program milk powder that was being sold on the Bosnian market.US taxpayers are not only paying to subsidize crops, but if the government takes farmer surplus and keeps it from the local market, then the government is artificially keeping prices higher than they should be.6) In pre-revolutionary Iran, two men took Mr. Perkins to a private meeting and told him that they were confiding in him because he was in between two worlds; he was in the middle.

    *I am in between more than just two worlds, I am in the middle of a lot of worlds, cultures, ways of thinking and languages. People tell me all sorts of things about their countries and leaders that they would never tell a mainstream person. Right now, I am in between so many worlds that I sometimes feel like I am floating.

    Wow! If those spy agencies had taken a hold of me after college, what would I be doing right now?

    I bet there are other people like me with mixed linguistic and cultural backgrounds who are prey to be recruited for these types of spy-like or economic infiltration assignments.

    I believe that those of us with a multilingual and multicultural background can do good in this world and not just exploit our talents and ancestry for the profit of corporations and greedy governments. My path is to teach others how to learn foreign languages easily using music and the media and be their own communicators. It took me a long time to find my niche.

    I hope my cohorts find their paths that benefit humanity.