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  • Author: Vivek S. Sharma
  • Publication Date: 11-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The National Interest
  • Institution: The Nixon Center
  • Abstract: CORRUPTION, MORE often than not, seems to resemble a plague. Afghanistan, where the CIA and British intelligence (in competition with the Iranians) have quite literally been handing over duffel bags stuffed full with taxpayer money to Prime Minister Hamid Karzai and his associates, is perhaps the most prominent example of its invasiveness and hardiness. Nothing seems to be able to eradicate it. Immunization efforts fail. Mutations occur. The only course seems to be to attempt to adapt to it. For despite the efforts expended by several American presidents on behalf of Karzai's administration, the United States has no surer way of ensuring influence and access to Karzai and his advisers than through direct cash payments into a slush fund designed to purchase the loyalty of important and powerful personages within the Afghan government. The bankruptcy of the Western strategy in Afghanistan could hardly be expressed in more vivid terms. Such failures in Afghanistan, not to mention Iraq, have occurred while the broader (and noncoercive) dimensions of "state building" or more generally "development" have also paid less-than-stellar returns. It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the project of implanting "good" institutions in non-Western societies, whether through conquest (as in Iraq and Afghanistan) or through consensual, noncoercive means (as in Cambodia), has turned out to be a thankless task.
  • Topic: Corruption, Development
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Denmark