Enemies foreign and domestic: Confronting kleptocrats at home and abroad
A new working group report from the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy
As Putin and his kleptocratic regime of oligarchs wage a devastating war in Ukraine, the costs of corruption have never been so starkly visible. Beyond Russia, recent examples of corruption in China, Afghanistan, the Northern Triangle, the Solomon Islands, and elsewhere, prove that rampant corruption poses a significant threat to aspirations for a greener, healthier, more peaceful, and more democratic world. Countries such as Russia and China have elevated their brand of corruption into a distinct and powerful aspect of their foreign policy. They employ this strategic corruption abroad to stunt economic growth; prop-up fellow authoritarian regimes; exacerbate social inequality; erase political trust; accelerate pandemics and degrade healthcare systems; exploit the environment; and propel state oppression. As U.S. policymakers seek to counter this strategic corruption, they must first recognize the extent to which domestic laws and actors within the United States enable this corruption to fester.
In the fall of 2021 and spring of 2022, ISD convened a series of New Global Commons working group meetings with participants drawn from academia, think tanks, government, international organizations, non-governmental organizations, and the private sector. The group crafted workable definitions of corruption, evaluated the unique political and related threats posed by corruption and kleptocracy, assessed Russia and China’s use of strategic corruption, and developed principles and recommendations for government and non-government entities to build a global, sustained, anti-corruption response.