A former adviser to the Joint Chiefs of Staff explains how government's oldest problem is its greatest destabilizing force. Thieves of State argues that corruption is not just a nuisance; it is a major source of geopolitical turmoil. Since the late 1990s, corruption has grown such that some governments now resemble criminal gangs, provoking extreme reactions ranging from revolution to militant puritanical religion.
Through intensive firsthand reporting, Sarah Chayes explores the security implications of corruption throughout our world: Afghans returning to the Taliban, Egyptians overthrowing the Mubarak government - but also redesigning Al Qaeda - and Nigerians embracing both evangelical Christianity and Islamist terrorist groups like Boko Haram. The pattern, moreover, pervades history. Canonical political thinkers such as John Locke and Machiavelli, as well as the great medieval Islamic statesman Nizam al-Mulk, all named corruption as a threat to the realm.
In a thrilling argument that connects the Protestant Reformation to the Arab Spring, Chayes asserts that we cannot afford not to attack corruption, for it is a cause, and not a result, of global instability.
©2015 Sarah Chayes (P)2015 Recorded Books
This book could have been merely good, if the author simply shared her first-hand experiences with corruption. Instead, she went beyond by researching historic writings on corruption and drawing parallels to current day. In addition, she also gives many reasonable options for fighting corruption moving forward.
While some reviewers have found the narration to be "shrill," I found it had extra weight when the thoughts were stressed as the author intended. Some statements are meant to have impact and the voicing should reflect that.
All around this is an outstanding book. It moves beyond merely reporting on facts, to understanding causes, and recommending solutions.
I like the narrator -- she happens to be the author -- but have not read the printed book.
It is a powerful, instructive account of reality. It should be required reading for us all.
Nothing to laugh about, but it is certainly "for to weep".
Wake up, everybody.
I recommend all read this clearly written book to help join the dots in why extremism of whatever religious type exists.
The book is relatively short, but contains some interesting idea of the importance that corruption has in disrupting and undermining the social fabric of societies. Fairness is the glue that keeps a community together. It is melting like the polar icecap.
Faced with mindless duty, when an audio book player slips into a rear pocket and mini buds pop into ears, old is made new again.
“Thieves of State” is a tiresome revelation by an author one admires for confronting state sanctioned corruption, but denies her argued etiology for corruption’s existence. Unquestionably, Hamid Karzai and his administration were corrupt during the ten years of his presidency. There is ample proof of corruption in Afghanistan; certainly during Karzai’s administration, and probably still today. Interestingly, Sarah Chayes reveals that Karzai’s corruption is abetted by America’s own CIA.As Chayes notes, Mubarak’s government in Egypt was comparably corrupt, and probably is still corrupt. Chayes ten years in Afghanistan and her ability to speak Arabic offer tremendous credibility to her observations. However, her suggestion that corruption threatens global security is tiresome because “Thieves of State” exist in all forms of government, including the United States.
Listening to “Thieves of State” is tiresome because America lives in a glass house. If America makes the mistake of invading Iraq or throwing money at the Afghanistan economy, it is only we Americans who are to blame. It is not the fault of Afghani or Iraqi corruption. It is the fault of an outside country interfering in a society and choosing not to invest in understanding that society. If one does not speak Arabic, one has little chance of understanding Arabic culture.
Respectfully, Chayes invested her time in understanding Afghanistan which puts her far and away ahead of most Americans but she misses the root cause of corruption which is unregulated human nature. That is why many countries that have poor government regulation turn to religion. If a secular government cannot regulate human nature, Taliban-like tyrannies fill the vacuum with public executions or Mullah’ Dictates. Neither secular nor religious governance is a guarantee of perfect human justice, equality, or equity. Justice, equality, and equity must come from the desire of indigenous populations.
This book provides a detailed look at governmental corruption and a compelling call for the United States and international community to start treating it as a core national security issue, not a minor problem that can be swept under the rug. The author uses vivid examples that keep the story interesting and not dry. The narration is great. Highly recommended.
Ms Chayes reviews historical works on failures in governance and effects of current abuses of funds and of power today. A well written book and presentation.
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