Cover image for Thieves of state : why corruption threatens global security
Title:
Thieves of state : why corruption threatens global security
Author:
Chayes, Sarah, 1962- , author.
Publication Information:
New York : W.W. Norton & Company, [2015]

©2015
Physical Description:
x, 262 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
Summary:
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.
Language:
English
Contents:
"If I see somebody planting an IED..." : Afghanistan, 2009 -- "Lord King, how I wish that you were wise" : mirrors for princes, ca. 700-1516 -- Hearing the people's complaints : Kandahar to Kabul, 2001-2009 -- Nonkinetic targeting : Kabul, 2009 -- Vertically integrated criminal syndicates : Kabul, Garmisch, 2009-2010 -- Revolt against kleptocracy : the Arab spring : Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, 2011 -- Variation 1: the (overlooked) military-kleptocratic complex : Egypt, ca. 2010 -- Variation 2: the bureaucratic kleptocracy : Tunisia, ca. 2010 -- Variation 3: the post-Soviet kleptocratic autocracy : Uzbekistan, ca. 2013 -- Variation 4: the resource kleptocracy : Nigeria, ca. 2014 -- Up a level : Afghanistan and Washington, June 2010-January 2011 -- Forging an appeal on Earth : The Netherlands, England, America, ca. 1560-1787 -- Violent extremists -- Remedies -- Self-reflection -- Appendix.
ISBN:
9780393239461
Format :
Book

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Summary

Summary

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.


Author Notes

An award-winning former NPR correspondent, foreign policy expert, and entrepreneur with ten years' experience in Afghanistan, Sarah Chayes is an associate at the Carnegie Endowment and the author of The Punishment of Virtue. She lives in Washington, DC.


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

*Starred Review* Government corruption in the world's hot spots is often ignored at the expense of any real chance for peace, argues Chayes, former NPR correspondent and former advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Drawing on her experiences, Chayes asserts that kleptocratic governance acute and systemic public corruption is provoking insurgency in many parts of the world. She explores the day-to-day frustrations of citizens in Afghanistan, Nigeria, Egypt, and other nations, who can't get basic things done without paying bribes to government officials. Frustration often breeds insurgency as citizens see the Taliban or Boko Haram as agents to address the need for change. Chayes parallels current geopolitics with ancient practices and the philosophers who railed against corruption, including Machiavelli, John Locke, and Islamic statesman Nizam al-Mulk. She criticizes diplomats, reporters, NGO workers herself included for failing to expand their contacts beyond the usual sources to get a broader sense of public concerns over massive crimes committed under the imprimatur of government. From ancient tales of avaricious rulers to modern headlines of greedy politicians, Chayes offers insightful analysis of how government corruption invites instability and insurgency and why we will never see peace in some of the world's hot spots until we address that corruption.--Bush, Vanessa Copyright 2015 Booklist


Publisher's Weekly Review

Chayes (Punishment of Virtue) argues here that corruption among foreign governments angers local populations and thereby undermines U.S. foreign policy. Framing the narrative using medieval and Renaissance texts from the genre known as "mirrors for princes," written in Europe and the Middle East as advice to new rulers, Chayes draws from her own experiences as a reporter and aid worker in Afghanistan to show what happens when populations grow disappointed in their own governments. Most illuminating, however, are Chayes's conversations with people living under corrupt regimes that range from Nigeria, which she says suffers from a "resource curse," to Afghanistan and Syria. As she finds, problems often arise when proxies or intermediaries are able to interpose themselves between governments and the people they govern. As a result, dissent grows at the same time that politics is removed as a means of redress. Meanwhile, U.S. foreign policy, according to Chayes, tends to neglect the networks that foster corruption in favor of targeting individuals, or simply ignoring the issue altogether. Though she acknowledges homegrown American graft, she draws too little distinction between the corruption that greases wheels (such as congressional bills full of pork) and the corruption that actually disrupts progress. Nonetheless, scholars and CNN junkies alike should be intrigued by the issues Chayes brings up and impressed with the solutions she suggests. (Jan.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Choice Review

This is a very powerful, moving, thoughtful, and probing exposé on corruption and global security. It is also a wonderfully written and compelling read. It is not, however, an academic treatise that can or should be treated as a scholarly work capable of building on the existing literature or adding something new to the body of knowledge in terms of being amenable to other rigorous research. This is not a criticism of the book per se, because it was not the goal of the author (who is not an academic) to "play professor." Rather, the book powerfully compares intensely diverse times and places to show how pervasive corruption is and why and how it has always been a threat to global security. More importantly, this work breaks down global North-South prejudicial myths that seem to make corruption a problem of other countries and not a concern of the so-called First World. The discussion of remedies at the end of the book lays out a blueprint for future scholars to take up in serious ways. Hopefully this will happen; otherwise the true potential of this work will remain unfulfilled. Summing Up: Recommended. All readership levels. --Matthew D. Crosston, Bellevue University


Table of Contents

Chapter 1 "If I See Somebody Planting an IED ..." Afghanistan, 2009p. 3
Chapter 2 "Lord King, How I Wish That You Were Wise" Mirrors for Princes, ca. 700-1516p. 8
Chapter 3 Hearing the People's Complaints: Kandahar to Kabul, 2001-2009p. 20
Chapter 4 Nonkinetic Targeting Kabul, 2009p. 39
Chapter 5 Vertically Integrated Criminal Syndicates Kabul, Garmisch, 2009-2010p. 58
Chapter 6 Revolt Against Kleptocracy The Arab Spring: Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, 2011p. 67
Chapter 7 Variation I: The (Overlooked) Military-Kleptocratic Complex Egypt, ca. 2010p. 78
Chapter 8 Variation 2: The Bureaucratic Kleptocracy Tunisia, ca. 2010p. 91
Chapter 9 Variation 3: The Post-Soviet Kleptocratic Autocracy Uzbekistan, ca. 2013p. 101
Chapter 10 Variation 4: The Resource Kleptocracy Nigeria, ca. 2014p. 118
Chapter 11 Up a Level Afghanistan and Washington, June 2010-January 2011p. 135
Chapter 12 Forging an Appeal on Earth: The Netherlands, England, America, ca. 1560-1787p. 156
Chapter 13 Violent Extremistsp. 172
Chapter 14 Remediesp. 184
Epilogue: Self-Reflectionp. 205
Appendixp. 212
Acknowledgmentsp. 219
Notesp. 221
Indexp. 245