Corridors of Power: Mafia Finances, Manning’s Gift to Condi, and More

Corridors of Power: Mafia Finances, Manning’s Gift to Condi, and More

TONY SOPRANO, EAT YOUR HEART OUT -- Italy's harassed store owners paid $8.5 billion in protection money to organized crime in one year, almost all of it in the south and Sicily, where the Mafia and its Neapolitan counterpart, the Camorra, hold sway. About 160,000 businesses were targeted throughout the country, according to the Italian retailers association, Confesercenti. Loan sharks took in double that amount: $17.1 billion. From 2004-2006 Mafia loan sharks "foreclosed" on 165,000 businesses nationwide, and nearly 50,000 hotels.

Confesercenti -- quoted in the newspaper Corriere della Sera -- listed the fixed rates for protection. Market stall holders paid $14 per day per stall. Store owners budgeted between $140 and $200 a month (more in Palermo), and building contractors anything up to $17,000 to keep things from going wrong on a construction site. Paradoxically, says the retailers association, the more mobsters the police arrest, the more protection money needs to be raised to cover lawyers' fees.

SELLING DEMOCRACY -- President Bush has sometimes talked of the U.S. redevelopment programs in Afghanistan and Iraq as a new Marshall Plan. This is something of a stretch. True, the European Recovery Program, known as the Marshall Plan because it was proposed by Gen. George Marshall, then secretary of state, in a speech delivered exactly 50 years ago, was a massive aid package designed to jump start the economies of war-ravaged Europe, both allies and enemies. Ultimately, the United States voted $13 billion in economic and technical assistance, roughly equivalent to almost $100 billion today.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.

More World Politics Review