All Corruption Is Political: Learning From Failure in Afghanistan and Myanmar

Armed Afghan policemen sit with confiscated poppy bulbs during a poppy eradication sweep of a farmer’s field in the village of Karezaq, Afghanistan, April 11, 2004 (AP photo by David Guttenfelder).
Armed Afghan policemen sit with confiscated poppy bulbs during a poppy eradication sweep of a farmer’s field in the village of Karezaq, Afghanistan, April 11, 2004 (AP photo by David Guttenfelder).
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Corruption and criminality have long bedeviled both conflict and post-conflict settings. As illicit economies that predated or emerged from the years of conflict persist and grow, they often undermine apparent battlefield victories and aspirational regime transitions to the point of eviscerating stability and liberalization. From Somalia to Afghanistan to Myanmar to South Sudan to Haiti, the stabilization efforts of international and local actors have often been held hostage to the unsavory behavior of elites, both old and new. One reason why anti-corruption and anti-crime efforts have struggled is that they have been understood as technical, institution-building efforts rather than as […]

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