Peace & Stability Journal Volume 7, Issue 1 - Page 14

Recognizing this problem, the U.S. Embassy in Kabul began working on its own to counter Afghanistan’s rampant corrup- tion. They established a working group, comprised of the An- ti-Corruption Capacity Building, the Kabul Bank, and Borders. In lieu of a specific U.S. Government mission, they focused on “building Afghan government institutional capacity, improv- ing financial regulation and public financial management, and enhancing revenue generation.” 20 However, there is no clear method of tracking the working group’s long-term progress, making it difficult to determine if the U.S.’s strategic goals and objectives were actually achieved. This document recommends that the Secretary of State, in an effort to improve the U.S.’s anti- and counter – corruption practices, should “develop…a comprehensive, coordinated strategy” and “develop an updated operational plan for the implementation of the anti-corruption goals and objectives that outlines benchmarks and timelines for the accomplishment of these goals.” 21 Creating international coalitions to counter-corruption are not as effective as one might believe. While coalitions encourage member countries to stop corrupt behaviors and to hold others accountable, if only to create a more-equal playing field, it is not evident they have taken a hard stance on corruption within their own borders. In fact, it seems that these countries will go to great lengths to hide corruption, in order to keep the inter- national systems functioning. So, when establishing a system to counter-corruption or prevent corruption from taken hold in a new structure, it is important to pay close attention to domes- tic policies, rather than international ones. While a system of mutual accountability is mildly successful, in order to ensure complete success, a healthy system of domestic accountability must also exist. By creating a more specific strategy that includes a way of measuring progress, U.S. agencies would be tasked with rooting out corruption and operating more efficiently. Based on my research, they should have a clear framework for establishing oversight mechanisms and organizations that can identify cor- ruption, set up a plan to counter it, and create better transparen- cy and accountability. Without specific goals and standards to meet, the objectives of the working group may change over time or become less targeted. It is likely that corruption will continue to persist in the face of weak and unorganized efforts, but with a clear goal, it can be mitigated step by step. It is imperative that those U.S. government organizations tasked with countering corruption, measure their progress by creating broad, uniform goals. It is commonly perceived that anti-corruption organizations primarily focus on the public sector, ensuring that those meant to serve the general public are functioning in that interest. However, anti-corruption organizations should also have inter- est in working within the private sector. In today’s “neoliberal world,” “non-state actors” often have “great power and influ- ence” and play a large role in “corrupt transactions.” 24 While a country’s government may have a strong anti- corruption framework, if their businesses are engaged in corrupt activity, it can delegitimize the entire system. For example, prior to the Great Recession, the big banks on Wall Street created a ponzy- like scheme to repackage low-grade loans into groups of AAA quality Collateralized Debt Obligations (CDO), which were sold to investors across the globe. 25 When these risky loans eventually defaulted, the U.S. financial system collapsed, which spiraled into faraway economies. Since the Great Recession, the U.S. and its financial sector have lost the respect and trust of many. Therefore, it is imperative that governments create an economic sphere that limits the opportunity for corruption. Economies with high instances of government intervention have been shown to foster more corrupt transactions between public officials and private businesses. 3. Turning a Blind Eye to Bribery: Explaining Failures to Comply with the International Anti-Corruption Regime A common perception exists that democracies, especially those with highly transparent processes, are more compliant with international anti-corruption agreements. It is argued that these democracies have a high occurrence of “moral suasion and socialization,” as well as “foreign and domestic interests favor- ing compliance.” 22 However, Gilbert and Sharman argue that attaining such ideals is a relatively long-term view. In the short- term, these highly transparent democracies have an incentive to “prioritize the national economic interest in the form of jobs and export earnings, while minimizing bad publicity.” 23 While many politicians in a democratic process openly support inter- national anti-corruption initiatives, it does not necessarily mean that they themselves carry out the spirit of these agreements. In fact, because of the electoral process, they have a high incentive to employ whatever means necessary to stay in power, and to sweep any evidence of scandal under the rug. 12 4. The Limitations of Neoliberal Logic in the Anti-Corrup- tion Industry: Lessons from Papua New Guinea Therefore, a free market and economic privatization are the means to a corruption-free private sector. Anti-corruption organizations should work with the public sector to encourage free market reforms, and to increase transparency on all ends. By giving businesses a free space to operate, with only necessary regulations, there is less need for them to offer kickbacks and bribes to public officials. Furthermore, a free market will likely lead to a better economic climate, creating more prosperity in general. Anti-corruption organizations should guide both the public and private sector, reducing entanglement and creating