Thieves of State: Why Corruption Threatens Global Security Reprint Edition, Kindle Edition
Use the Amazon App to scan ISBNs and compare prices.
Enter your mobile phone or email address
By pressing "Send link," you agree to Amazon's Conditions of Use.
You consent to receive an automated text message from or on behalf of Amazon about the Kindle App at your mobile number above. Consent is not a condition of any purchase. Message & data rates may apply.
- Highlight, take notes, and search in the book
- In this edition, page numbers are just like the physical edition
- Length: 273 pages
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
- Page Flip: Enabled
Switch back and forth between reading the Kindle book and listening to the Audible book with Whispersync for Voice. Add the Audible book for a reduced price of $7.49 when you buy the Kindle book.
The Amazon Book Review
Book recommendations, author interviews, editors' picks, and more. Read it now
From the Author
Thanks very much for visiting this page, and for your interest in Thieves of State. I wrote this book to address a dumbfounding impasse: the inability of senior U.S. officials to make the connection between acute and abusive corruption and dramatic global upheavals, from the rise of violent extremism to the revolutions of the Arab Spring or Ukraine. What Thieves of State does is take you with me, so you can experience for yourself not just the abuse and humiliation of everyday corruption in many countries, but also the inner workings of the U.S. government as it reached a decision not to address the problem.
We'll also take a fascinating historical detour, for history has much to teach us about how people have grappled with these issues - and about how similar their responses have been across time and culture. We'll detail hard-nosed options for different approaches, and we'll take a glance in the mirror.
It is an unusual book: no dry, expository policy-wonk analysis, rather a riveting story that will keep you engaged. But you'll also find plenty of thought-provoking, even sometimes provocative, analysis. I hope that you like it, and that you will let me know your thoughts either way. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From the Inside Flap
THIEVES OF STATE
by Sarah Chayes
Reprinted here with permission.
The question of pursuing a serious anticorruption policy was finally put to rest in January 2011. The battle was waged in the margins of an interagency document called "Objective 2015." It had occurred to someone that the U.S. government really ought to have a picture of what it was trying to achieve in Afghanistan - what the country would need to look like by the end of 2014 if it were to weather the withdrawal of international troops without imploding.
The document was an embarrassment. Just the grammatical errors in the first paragraph made me flinch. Rather than identify true minimal requirements for Afghanistan to survive without international troops, it cut down ambitions to fit what was deemed "achievable" - whether or not such goals were sufficient to ensure Afghanistan could continue to exist.
It seemed to me, for example, that for the Afghan government to last, motivations for joining the insurgency had to diminish. Afghans had better think more highly of their government by 2015 than they did in 2011. Yet in the document, the very modest goal of an upward trend in Afghans' confidence in their government was not listed as essential to mission success. It was considered only a "nice-to-have."
The real anticorruption fight, however, was not over such fundamentals. It played out in the fine print of the document's "implementation guidelines." Over the furious dissent of mid-level Justice Department (DoJ) officials, seconded by the Joint Staff - but not by their own chief, Attorney General Eric Holder - the documents barred DoJ attorneys from mentoring anticorruption cases. They could do generalized capacity building, but they could not help shepherd specific cases against specific Afghan government officials. The investigations units, even if they were able to continue functioning, would never be able to bring a case to court. The courageous anticorruption prosecutors could never hope for backup from U.S. officials if they were intimidated, harassed, or demoted.
The gavel had come down. By way of an apparently insignificant detail buried deep in an interagency document - a few words of guidance to DoJ attorneys - the U.S. decision to turn a blind eye to Afghan corruption was finally spelled out.
NOT TILL the spring of 2013 did the penny drop as to what had prompted Petraeus's sudden change of heart in the summer of 2010 - and ultimately, what made the U.S. government shrink from addressing corruption in Afghanistan. On April 28, Matthew Rosenberg of the New York Times reported that the CIA had been paying millions of dollars per year, in cash, to President Karzai. Toward the end of his article was the nugget of information that told the whole story.
The CIA's bagman was Muhammad Zia Salehi - that aide to Karzai who had been arrested, and then quickly released, in the summer of 2010. U.S. officials had walked into a circular firing squad. Salehi, the subject of the U.S. government's corruption test case, was also the U.S. government's intermediary for cash payments to Karzai. The choice of this target may have been deliberate - an effort to flush out into the open the profound contradiction at the heart of U.S. policy.
Two senior U.S. officials told me later that throughout the investigation of Salehi, the planning for the arrest, and his liberation within a few hours, CIA personnel had remained silent about their relationship with him. Even afterward, despite strong words at Principals' Committee meetings and that Joint Staff "top twenty" list, the CIA never provided the U.S. ambassador or the key cabinet secretaries with the names of the Afghans it was paying. The station chief in Kabul continued to hold private meetings with Karzai, with no other U.S. officials present.
In other words, a secret CIA agenda - which involved enabling the very summit of Afghanistan's kleptocracy - was in direct conflict with the anticorruption agenda. And with no one explicitly arbitrating this contradiction, the CIA's agenda won out.
After those first few weeks in command, Petraeus veered hard away from governance efforts and devoted himself to targeted killing, which he intensified considerably. Targeted killing of individual terrorist suspects is the special domain of the CIA, which Petraeus left Kabul to run - until his tenure there was cut short by an extramarital affair that had germinated in the Yellow Building at ISAF headquarters.
The Obama Administration, sickened by the cost in lives and resources that the counterinsurgency approach was exacting, and perhaps uncomfortable with the power and discretion that large-scale military operations place in the hands of the brass, turned increasingly toward special operations and drone warfare to counter security threats. Targeted, technologically advanced, secretive killing, over which the president had direct control, increased after 2010, spreading to Yemen and other theaters.
But the point officials missed in making this shift - and in letting the priorities generated by this strategy trump governance objectives - is that targeted killings still represent a military response to a problem that is fundamentally political and economic in nature: a problem that is rooted in the conduct of government. The current U.S. approach sends a message, wittingly or not, to people who are often driven to violence by the abusively corrupt practices of their ruling cliques, and by frustration at seeing their legitimate grievance systematically ignored. The message seems to be: your grievances are, in fact, of no account. They will not be heard. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
- ASIN : B00L4HAXDM
- Publisher : W. W. Norton & Company; Reprint edition (January 19, 2015)
- Publication date : January 19, 2015
- Language : English
- File size : 4175 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 273 pages
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #294,645 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Where the book falls short is from the author's time overseas and as a result being disconnected from government and corporate corruption in the United States and how it has played a role in these regimes. The USA and the CIA supported the taliban and the CIA employed Osama bin Laden and the bin Laden family in turn has employed GH Bush after he left office. The head of Halliburton, Dick Cheney, moved from the private sector to be the vice president while retaining his stock in Halliburton. Not coincidentally the value of Halliburton stock increased dramatically thanks to the billions of dollars of no-bid contracts they received for Afghanistan and Iraq from the Bush-Cheney government. Reagan got financial support from Rumsfeld (who became a member of Reagan's transition team) and in return on Reagan's first day in office he appointed a new head of the FDA who promptly gave approval for asparteme, a dangerous food additive that had been blocked by FDA scientists, and Donald Rumsfeld as the CEO of Searle became a multi-millionaire as a result.
The author does not realize how pervasive corruption is in all levels of government in the USA. Local governments allow privatization of public lands, public water systems and public hospitals and mass transportation systems and the decisions are made by elected officials who need large campaign donations to get into and remain in office. A US senator can be purchased for as little as $20,000 in campaign contributions The process has become streamlined with the billionaires funding of ALEC, an organization that actually writes the laws for the officials to enact and make into the laws of the land.
Author of “Secrecy World: Inside the Panama Papers Investigation of Illicit Money Networks and the Global Elite” http://amzn.to/2hVuohf
The only flaw I could find in the book is when the author compares todays extremists with the protestant revolution in Holland. Although the motivation was much the same, corrupt officials, it seems to me as revenge thinking and release of hatred is more dominant in Al Quida while the ravaging protestants were more geared towards antiauthoritarian thinking, to destroy oppressors, authoritarian institutions and symbols. Suicide bombers were not used in the Protestant revolutions, and it resulted in the establishment of inclusive institutions and primary schools for all. Al Quida and similar groups does not aim to promote education (except religious) or inclusive institutions, but rather submission to certain leaders, beliefs and dogmas.
Top reviews from other countries
Chayes demonstrates that this corruption is not just perpetrated by small time officials seeking petty backhanders. It goes all the way to the top. In countries from Afghanistan to Algeria, Nigeria to Uzbekistan, it is the ruling elite which manages and takes most benefit from the corruption. The money flows to the top.
More shocking is her demonstration that Western governments deliberately and persistently turn a blind eye to this, indeed actively discourage its reporting. They are too close to and complicit with the corrupt governments with whom they are allies. In this respect, the West is actively propagating the circumstances which feed the terrorists with desperate volunteers who have lost everything - and therefore have nothing to lose.
Chayes presents her argument in writing which is crisp and incisive when analysing corrupt practices, and subtle and atmospheric when evoking the countries and people that suffer from them. She combines first hand personal experience with rigorous analysis of primary sources including US state department memos, informed by Medieval and Renaissance texts on good governance from a France to Persia. One of the most painful facts she presents in her magnificent book is that there is nothing new. Today's corruption follows the template of that against which the writers of "Mirror Books" were warning kings in the 13th century. Plus ca change.
However even though the author notes that corruption isnt the only factor that ignites support for terror groups, the author does seem to neglect the strong idelogical factor for some of these terror groups. The author claims for example that the vast majority of Boko Haram attacks has been focused on goverment officals and the military is simply not true, and furthermore the author claims that boko haram isnt so much against western culture and civilazation, but the real meaning of their name is better understood in the context of the western education that the goverment officals recive and "use" afterwards in their high postions to rob the country. This is partly true, but again there the author neglects that the leaders of boko haram themselfs have claimed hatred for all westeren culture, the then acting leader of Boko Haram as in August 2009, Mallam Sanni Umaru, jettisoned such designation. He charged that “Boko Haram does not in any way mean ‘Western Education is a sin’ as the infidel media continue to portray us. Boko Haram actually means ‘Western Civilization’ is forbidden”.
Furthermore i personally think the author could had done without the chapter where she compared the protestant uprisings in Holland with the current unstability in the middle east. This historical comparsions is interesting, but largely it just feels like filler for the book.
Overall i did like reading the book, and it did expand my horizon on these issues, and would recommend the book.