In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

1 Corruption is a human condition and an ancient phenomenon. From Mesopotamian times, if not before, public notables have abused their offices for personal gain; both well-born and common citizens have sought advantage by corrupting those holding power or controlling access to perquisites. The exercise of discretion, especially forms of discretion that facilitate or bar entry to opportunity, is a magnetic impulse that invariably attracts potential abusers. Moreover, since nearly all tangible opportunities are potentially zero-sum in their impact on individuals or classes of individuals, it is almost inevitable that claimants will seek favors from authorities and that authorities, in turn, appreciating the strength of their positions, will welcome inducements. Until avarice and ambition cease to be human traits, corruption will continue to flourish. Self-interest dictates the using and granting of favors. Merit will determine outcomes and advancement only in a minority of nations, and the riptide of corruption—even in the most abstemious nations and societies —always exists as an undertow to be resisted. Indeed, in many nations, obtaining even rightful entitlements in a timely fashion, or at all, is characteristically subject to inducement. Almost everywhere, and from time immemorial , there is a presumption that most desirable outcomes are secured through illicitly pressed influence or hard-bought gains. United States Senate seats are, in one case, almost exchanged for cash. Nigerian governmentally awarded construction contracts are procured for no less than a hefty percentage of the total project value. The outcomes of Thai elections are determined almost entirely by the purchase of votes and voters. So too were U. S. elections in the early days of the republic; Americans, who readily understood the importance of influence and access from their founding days, always feared the power of corrupt politicians. French politicians and political parties have long depended on corruptly illegal flows of funds from 1 How Corruption Compromises World Peace and Stability robert i. rotberg 01 0328-0 ch1.qxd 7/15/09 3:43 PM Page 1 2 Robert I. Rotberg wealthy corporations or individuals, or foreign polities, a continuing scandal that was investigated and exposed in the 1990s.1 Dickens and Eliot were as fully aware in the British nineteenth century of the power of corrupt practice as were much earlier authors and commentators . Eliot’s Felix Holt, The Radical, for example, bemoans parliamentarians being unashamed “to make public questions which concern the welfare of millions a mere screen for their own petty private ends.” She also writes that “corruption is not felt to be a damming disgrace,”using the word itself explicitly . Felix Holt’s and Eliot’s own remedies for corrupt practice seem to be the force of an aroused public opinion, certainly a form of accountability.2 This book takes as givens that corruption is common everywhere in the early twenty-first century, that almost no nations and no collections of leadership are immune to the temptations of corruption, that we know more than ever before about the mechanisms and impacts of corruption, that corrupt practices are more egregious and more obscenely excessive in the world’s newer nations, and that what is truly novel in this century is that corruption is much more a threat to world order than ever in the past. Corruption is no longer largely confined to the political sphere, where wily politicians and their officials siphon money from the state, fiddle bids, or demand emoluments for giving citizens what is rightfully theirs. There is a new critical security dimension to corruption, compromising world peace and stability. Now areas of the globe are positively at risk because of corrupt practices within states and the impact of such practices across transnational borders. This volume shows how the peace of the world is systematically compromised by corruption that facilitates the possible proliferation of weapons of mass destruction; that assists the spread of terror and terroristic practices; and that strengthens the malefactors who traffic illicitly in humans, guns, and drugs, and who launder money. Corrupt practices undercut noble international efforts to improve the health, educational attainments, welfare, prosperity , and human rights of the inhabitants of the troubled planet. No arena of human endeavor is now immune from the destructive result of corruption. Indeed, as Robert Legvold’s chapter demonstrates forcibly, numerous areas of the globe, especially within the post-Soviet sphere, are now controlled by criminals and criminalized states whose entire focus is the promotion of corruption . In Africa there are such states, too, Zimbabwe and Equatorial Guinea offering the...


Additional Information

MARC Record
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.