PDF | On Oct 1, , Hugh Breakey and others published Book Review: Thieves of State. Editorial Reviews. Review. "The target of her zeal is government corruption around the world. from others so familiar to those of us who have gone through it ourselves. The book may be designed to spur readers to action, to force them to spring from their .
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Thieves of State: Why Corruption. Threatens Global Security. By Sarah. Chayes. New York: W.W. Norton &. Company, Benjamin Dille. Foreign Service. regulations, but also practices of enforcement) that protected the ruling colonizers , not the general population, and newly independent states often left these. Varun Piplani is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Political Science at George Washington University, USA. Varun Piplani*. Sarah Chayes' Thieves of State.
This would have been early Nurallah was telling me what had happened to his brother. We were always doing thissharing stories as we worked. It took hours each day just to process it all.
Improvised bombs would rattle our windows as they detonated, pounding the air like thunderclaps, or like great objects falling in the next room. I used the formal Arabic word for explosion: infijar. The guys had trouble pronouncing it.
The Pashtu was so much more intuitive: pataw. Wed climb up to the roof to look for the smoke, or else not, for fear of presenting a target. Wed try to guess the direction of the sound and think of someone to call on that side of town. Wed listen avidly to stories of the Talibans rule a few dozen miles away in the flat, vine-studded village where Abd al-Ahads brother tended his landthe makeshift mines the militants buried to keep people indoors at night, the taxes they collected, the telephone tree where they hung the carcasses of cell phones they confiscated from passersby and broke with rocks.
They didnt hang the people there; they hung the people at the former schoolhouse. Just as often, the horror stories were about the Afghan government.
An Albany man whose father was blown up in a explosion during a funeral at a mosque had to pay a bribe to get provincial clerks to fill out the death certificate. Big, gutsy Nargis from the wild country in the north, with her gypsy air, was married to the garbage mana wizened white-beard who heeled a little to the right as he trundled his wheelbarrow from house to house on our well-kept dirt street.
They, like so many other Kandaharis, lived in the graveyard, in a hovel built over somebodys tomb. Now Nargis was in a panic, because the mayor had announced he was bulldozing the squatters out, in line with the five-year plan.
Thousands of them. In the middle of an insurgency. One day, weathered elders from Hijran Karez, a village over the rocky ridge to the east of town, came and knelt on our floor to tell their story. President Hamid Karzais younger half-brother Ahmed Wali had claimed dozens of acres in the watershed of their precious spring as eminent domainand then proceeded to subdivide it and sell it off like his own private property. Bulldozers protected by police brandishing AKs and driving U.
That was the kind of story Nurallah was telling. His brother Najib owned an auto-parts store at bustling Shikarpur Gate, the mouth of the narrow road linking their village to the cityan ancient byway that had once led southward through the passes all the way to India.
At dusk it is clogged with a riot of vegetable sellers handcarts beset by shoppers, Toyota pickup trucks, horse-drawn taxis, and three-wheeled rickshaws clambering around and through the throng like gaudy dung beetles.
Nurallahs brother Najib had gone to Chaman, just across the border in Pakistan, where the streets are lined with cargo containers serving as shops, and used motor oil cements the dust to the ground in a glossy tarmac, and every variety of automotive organ or sinew is laid bare, spread out, and strung up for sale. He had made his downloads and set off back to Kandahar. He paid his customs dues Nurallah emphasized the remarkable pointbecause thats the law.
He paid at every checkpoint on the way back, fifty afghanis, a hundred afghanis. A dollar or two every time an unkempt, underage police boy in green fatigues slouched out of a sandbagged lean-to into the middle of the roadeight times in the sixty-six miles when last I counted. And then when he reached the entrance to town, the police there wanted five hundred afghanis.
Five hundred! A double arch marks the place where the road that swoops down from Kabul joins the road leading in from Pakistan.
The police range from one side to the other, like spear fishermen hunting trout in a narrows. He refused, Nurallah continued.
He said he had paid his customs dueshe showed them the receipt. He said he had paid the bribes at every checkpoint all along the way, and he was not paying again. I waited a beat. So what happened? They reached into his window and smacked him.
They hit him? I was shocked. Najib might be a sunny guy, but Kandahar tempers are strung on tripwires. For a second I thought wed have to go bail him out. What did he do? Nurallahs eyes, beneath his widows peak, were banked and smoldering. What could he do? He paid the money. But then he pulled over to the side of the road and called me. I told him to stay right there. And Matiullah had scoffed at him: Did he die of it? The police buzzards had seen Najib make the call.
They had descended on him, snatched the phone out of his hand, and smashed it. Now Nurallah was ablaze. Theyre the police! They should be showing people what the law is; they should be enforcing the law. And theyre the ones breaking it. Nurallah was once a police officer himself. He left the force the day his own boss, Kabul police chief Zabit Akrem, was assassinated in that blast in the mosque in My sacred oath, he vowed, concluding: If I see someone planting an IED on a road, and then I see a police truck coming, I will turn away.
I will not warn them. I caught my breath. So maybe he didnt mean it literally. Maybe Nurallah wouldnt actually connive with the Taliban. Still, if a former police officer like him was even mouthing such thoughts, then others were acting on them.
Afghan government corruption was manufacturing Taliban. I had entered Kandahar in December , on the heels of the fleeing Taliban, as a reporter for National Public Radio. Before long I resolved to set aside my journalism career and stay, to help Afghans rebuild their shattered but extraordinary societyand discover in this crisis, I hoped, an unanticipated opportunity. My focus was on economic reconstruction, not rule of law. Yet within weeks I was hearing stories of shakedowns by thugs in uniform, the private militia of Kandahars warlord governor.
As early as , Kandaharis were pointing anxiously to the presence of notorious criminals in their new government. Years later, due to my long experience in country, I was asked to serve as an adviser to the U.
By then I had watched that early chaotic warlordism take hold and solidify. I had listened to hours of my neighbors anguish about it. And so, given the opportunity, I spent much of my energy trying to persuade international officials to take corruption seriously. I was sure that unless they recognized the danger it presented and addressed it head on, they would never win the war.
That morning, in other words, was hardly the first time I had considered that kleptocratic governanceacute and systemic public corruptionwas fodder for an expanding insurgency.
Nurallahs tale was just the most striking demonstration. Corruption, it made plain, was not solely a humanitarian affair, an issue touching on principles or values alone. It was a matter of national securityAfghan national security and, by extension, that of the United States. And if corruption was driving people to violent revolt in Afghanistan, it was probably doing likewise in other places. Acute government corruption may in fact lie at the root of some of the worlds most dangerous and disruptive security challengesamong them the spread of violent extremism.
That basic fact, elusive to this day, is what this book seeks to demonstrate. This lack of oversight can be caused or exacerbated by the ability of the kleptocratic officials to control both the supply of public funds and the means of disbursal for those funds.
Kleptocratic rulers often treat their country's treasury as a source of personal wealth, spending funds on luxury goods and extravagances as they see fit.
Many kleptocratic rulers secretly transfer public funds into hidden personal numbered bank accounts in foreign countries to provide for themselves if removed from power. Such export incomes constitute a form of economic rent and are easier to siphon off without causing the income to decrease.
A specific case of kleptocracy is Raubwirtschaft, German for "plunder economy" or "rapine economy", where the whole economy of the state is based on robbery, looting and plundering the conquered territories. Such states are either in continuous warfare with their neighbours or they simply milk their subjects as long as they have any taxable assets.
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Programs Projects. Regions and Countries Issues. Preview this publication. Why Corruption Threatens Global Security. Sarah Chayes. Corruption is a cause—not a result—of global instability. Sarah Chayes is internationally recognized for her innovative thinking on corruption and its implications. Refocus the European Union: