The argument of Sarah Chayes

14 Sep 2019 3:36 PM | Jeremy Lewis (Administrator)

On 11 Sep. 2019, Sarah Chayes presented a lively view of the scale and pervasiveness of international corruption, originating with her encounters with the US-supported leadership of the Karzai family in Afghanistan. Spreading her observations to other developing countries, she argued that a popular response to local experience of corruption (among police or other local government officials) was to undermine the authority of a regime in favor of alternative movements such as the Taliban. 

She also analyzed corrupt movements among public and private bodies as vertically integrated from officials and bosses down to local officers, and horizontally integrated among both public and private (mafia-type) bodies. 

Skeptical of anti-corruption measures, she reported that most of her practical ideas for the US occupation forces in Afghanistan were not adopted because they would have bucked the trend of funding warlords and elite families to fight against the enemies of the US. 

She indicated that although she supported transparency measures such as open budgeting and freedom of information laws, they were unlikely to change political leaders' behavior in the countries studied. 

Voters' revolts against corrupt regimes were no panacea for her: for example a comedian replacing a regime quickly became corrupt himself. 

Overall, she concluded that corruption was itself a national security threat, stimulating local reactions to regimes. 

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