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Sunday, August 22, 2021

Sometimes a SIGAR is just a SIGAR

We've known for years. Below, a must-read.
Click the cover.
For a decade, I had been working to combat corruption. I’d analyzed it in countries like Nigeria and Afghanistan—where I had lived for years after the terrorist attacks of 9/11.

I had set up a small manufacturing cooperative in downtown Kandahar: Taliban country. We were women and men working together—a minor revolution. We were nine different tribes and ethnic groups, ten if you count me, in twenty people. With improvised bombs detonating sometimes every day, we bought apricot kernels in bulk and pressed wild pistachios and distilled essential oils and laughed our heads off as we mixed and kneaded and polished soaps to look like river-worn cobbles and concocted fragrant lotions, and talked politics all day long. And I discovered something I could never have imagined. Religious fanaticism, these men and women told me, was not driving their friends and cousins into the arms of the extremist Taliban. Indignation at their government’s corruption was—and at Americans’ role in enabling it.

It was a remarkable idea. I asked around, trying it out on other Afghans, trying to understand the structure of what I soon could see was a system. I went to work for the U.S. military leadership: serving two commanders of the international forces in Kabul, then the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the Pentagon. I helped launch the first anticorruption efforts the United States undertook. In 2010, in response to an almost comically ambivalent plan put forth by the State Department, Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Admiral Mike Mullen—my boss—persuaded his colleagues that it was time, in his words, “to get serious.” He put me in charge of redrafting the plan. He passed the result to the deputy national security advisor for Iraq and Afghanistan, Douglas Lute.

And there it sat.

Chayes, Sarah. On Corruption in America (pp. 5-6). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.    

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