Thursday, August 26, 2010

The corruption divide

Scott Horton at Harper's:
American policy towards corruption in Central Asia is thus exposed as schizophrenic. On the one hand the United States purports to be resolutely opposed to corruption and prepared to spend enormous sums to expose and prosecute it in the interest of transparency, good government, and saving the taxpayers the expense of corrupt contracts. FBI agents and prosecutors are being moved into the field and are pursuing an unprecedented number of prosecutions in U.S. courts. But on the other hand, it is increasingly apparent that the United States is itself one of the most staggeringly corrupt actors in the region, willing to slide hundreds of millions of dollars under the carpet to foreign government officials to induce them to do Washington’s bidding, on occasion doing this so crudely that it undermines the credibility of the government it has picked as an ally. Indeed, twice now American bribery operations targeting a foreign head of state helped provoke revolutions that toppled a government. Pursuing both of these policies at the same time exposes the United States to well-warranted charges of hypocrisy. Policy-makers in Washington urgently need to settle the question: on which side of the corruption divide do they want to stand?
On both sides, obviously. Corruption is a tool of US policies, so is anti-corruption. Protecting civilians is another tool, so is slaughtering them.

The US has a collection of policies, and a collection of tools. Most are contradictory, ineffective, and pointless, so what? The main task is to keep the contradictory, ineffective, and pointless machine running at all costs. The hopeless task of central Asian domination, to be paid for by the Iraq conquest, has been dead since Cheney was deposed back in '06. But the machine will continue running so long as it is fueled and oiled by the dwindling resources available.


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