Thieves of State

Thieves of State

Why Corruption Threatens Global Security

Book - 2015 | First edition
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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.
Publisher: New York, NY :, W.W. Norton & Company,, [2015]
Edition: First edition
Copyright Date: ©2015
ISBN: 9780393239461
Characteristics: x, 262 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm


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Jun 12, 2015

Excellent review of the seriousness of corruption on the stability of some underdeveloped countries. While she doesn't focus for very long on problems in the West, she doesn't give them a pass either. The weakest part (though she makes a serious effort) is coming up with ways to reduce the scope of the problem.

Feb 23, 2015

A fresh point of view on what might make people accept extremist leaders as the lesser of evils. The daily extortion within these countries has got to be a tremendous drain (imagine how upset we get over an occasional unfair traffic ticket or IRS audit). On the other hand it also details how difficult these are to change from the outside because corruption is embedded from top to bottom of the economy and bureaucracy, in a different way for each country.

Dec 10, 2014

[In the Author Notes they neglected to mention that Chayes was a special advisor to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to Gen. Stanley McChrystal, ran an NGO founded by President Karzai's brother [in Afghanistan, where he was involved in certain financial scandals, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera!!!!]
The critic from the Publishers Weekly correctly sums up the book: /// Chayes (Punishment of Virtue) argues here that corruption among foreign governments angers local populations and thereby undermines U.S. foreign policy. \\\ Foreign governments intefering with US foreign policy?!?!?! So this godforsaken newsy wannabe has never read the IG's report on total SEC corruption? [All those people with 6-figure salaries viewing porn all day long?] The report on the FDIC after Bair left? Borowsky's report on those TARP funds and PPP? This pathetic author never read the SIGIR report on unbelievable thievery and corruption among US officers, US senior noncoms and contractors in Iraq? [Can't mention the SIGAR report in Afghanistan - - they are now classified!] Did she ever bother to report on Julie Sirrs [formerly with the DIA] and the Unocal and CIA arming and financing of the Taliban in the 1990s? Of course not! This book is a complete abomination of an idiotically corrupt author blaming everyone but the source! There were ONLY 2 whistleblowers at the NSA, CIA, EPA, and one - - Ms. Sirrs - - at the DIA! ONLY 1 at WaMu, and Merrill Lynch! None anywhere else????? ONLY 1 at the Federal Reserve - - Oops! Carmen Segarra is Canadian, so she doesn't count.

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