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Thieves of State: Why Corruption Threatens…
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Thieves of State: Why Corruption Threatens Global Security

by Sarah Chayes

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Amazing work. interesting motif of alternating between accounts of the author's time in Afghanistan, and selections from various historical works on the danger's of corruption. Very well worth the time.

Note: Borrowed from the Anne Arundel County Library as audio CD

(2018)
  bohannon | Jun 20, 2018 |
Fascinating book about the terrible costs of corruption in developing nations, and also about the costs to America of supporting corrupt regimes and systems in the name of stability (and patronizing assumptions that the citizens of those regimes are inured to corruption so it’s not a big deal). Chayes has extensive experience in Afghanistan, but also discusses various Middle Eastern countries where she identifies similar dynamics, and says that other experts saw similarities with narcoterrorism etc. in other afflicted countries. The basic argument: when corruption reaches down into citizens’ everyday lives, such that they can’t plan on going to market or getting a business license without paying a bribe—and maybe without even any certainty about how much the officials/police will take—they are outraged, and willing to listen to radicals who promise that only strict religious control can fix the worldly corruption in government. Corrupt regimes then use the threat of religious extremists and separatists to extract more support from the US, which support they use to strengthen their power networks and to validate their legitimacy. Chayes tells a terrifically depressing story of American officials who were either ignorant of the corruption going on in their names (as she initially was) or indifferent, not understanding corruption’s devastating long-term effects on security. It’s hard not to read books like this and think that we should really just get the hell out, and not just militarily; Chayes has suggestions for constructive engagement that pushes in the direction of reform, but her experience indicates that the political will to implement tough stances against corrupt officials is generally lacking in American representatives abroad. ( )
  rivkat | Jul 8, 2015 |
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Book description
A former adviser to the Joint Chiefs of Staff explains how government’s oldest problem is its greatest destabilizing force.

The world is blowing up. Every day a new blaze seems to ignite: the bloody implosion of Iraq and Syria; the East-West standoff in Ukraine; abducted schoolgirls in northern Nigeria. Is there some thread tying these frightening international security crises together? In a riveting account that weaves history with fast-moving reportage and insider accounts from the Afghanistan war, Sarah Chayes identifies the unexpected link: corruption.

Since the late 1990s, corruption has reached such an extent that some governments resemble glorified criminal gangs, bent solely on their own enrichment. These kleptocrats drive indignant populations to extremes―ranging from revolution to militant puritanical religion. Chayes plunges readers into some of the most venal environments on earth and examines what emerges: Afghans returning to the Taliban, Egyptians overthrowing the Mubarak government (but also redesigning Al-Qaeda), and Nigerians embracing both radical evangelical Christianity and the Islamist terror group Boko Haram. In many such places, rigid moral codes are put forth as an antidote to the collapse of public integrity.

The pattern, moreover, pervades history. Through deep archival research, Chayes reveals that canonical political thinkers such as John Locke and Machiavelli, as well as the great medieval Islamic statesman Nizam al-Mulk, all named corruption as a threat to the realm. In a thrilling argument connecting the Protestant Reformation to the Arab Spring, Thieves of State presents a powerful new way to understand global extremism. And it makes a compelling case that we must confront corruption, for it is a cause―not a result―of global instability.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0393239462, Hardcover)

A former adviser to the Joint Chiefs of Staff explains how government’s oldest problem is its greatest destabilizing force.

The world is blowing up. Every day a new blaze seems to ignite: the bloody implosion of Iraq and Syria; the East-West standoff in Ukraine; abducted schoolgirls in northern Nigeria. Is there some thread tying these frightening international security crises together? In a riveting account that weaves history with fast-moving reportage and insider accounts from the Afghanistan war, Sarah Chayes identifies the unexpected link: corruption.

Since the late 1990s, corruption has reached such an extent that some governments resemble glorified criminal gangs, bent solely on their own enrichment. These kleptocrats drive indignant populations to extremes—ranging from revolution to militant puritanical religion. Chayes plunges readers into some of the most venal environments on earth and examines what emerges: Afghans returning to the Taliban, Egyptians overthrowing the Mubarak government (but also redesigning Al-Qaeda), and Nigerians embracing both radical evangelical Christianity and the Islamist terror group Boko Haram. In many such places, rigid moral codes are put forth as an antidote to the collapse of public integrity.

The pattern, moreover, pervades history. Through deep archival research, Chayes reveals that canonical political thinkers such as John Locke and Machiavelli, as well as the great medieval Islamic statesman Nizam al-Mulk, all named corruption as a threat to the realm. In a thrilling argument connecting the Protestant Reformation to the Arab Spring, Thieves of State presents a powerful new way to understand global extremism. And it makes a compelling case that we must confront corruption, for it is a cause—not a result—of global instability.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:20 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

A former advisor to the Joint Chiefs of Staff explains the common role of corruption in today's international uprisings, tracing corruption since the 1990s while arguing that corrupt governments have been largely responsible for extreme acts of rebellion.… (more)

» see all 2 descriptions

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