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96 On 23 April 2008, United States Attorney General Michael Mukasey offered a stark and foreboding assessment of the rising threat from international organized crime, asserting that the new global criminals are “more sophisticated, they are richer, they have greater influence over government and political institutions worldwide . . . and [they] are far more involved in our everyday lives than many people appreciate. . . . [Consequently], we can’t ignore criminal syndicates in other countries on the naïve assumption that they are a danger only in their homeland, whether it is located in Eurasia, Africa, or anywhere else.”1 Mukasey’s troubling portents echo a growing chorus of prognostications regarding the unprecedented (and transnational) dangers associated with criminality today.2 But, how fundamentally new and different is “organized crime”in today’s increasingly globalized world?3 How extensive are the ostensibly expanding links between international organized crime and domestic, state-based corruption? How significant a threat do such links pose, and under what conditions? Finally, why—since, as the conventional wisdom suggests, corruption and criminality are most likely to thrive where governance is weakest —are the majority of the world’s significant transnational criminal networks actually based in more highly functioning states? Even today, the connections between international criminal organizations, and between them and their host governments, in the post–Cold War period remain poorly understood. A decade and a half ago Williams suggested that 5 Kleptocratic Interdependence: Trafficking, Corruption, and the Marriage of Politics and Illicit Profits kelly m. greenhill The author thanks Peter Andreas, Johann Graf Lambsdorff, Corbin Lyday, Ben Oppenheim, Robert Rotberg, and participants at a pair of workshops, sponsored by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Program on Intrastate Conflict and Conflict Resolution at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government for valuable comments and suggestions on earlier versions of this chapter. The author also thanks Jarrod Niebloom for research assistance. 05 0328-0 ch5.qxd 7/15/09 3:47 PM Page 96 the difficulties facing analysts were two-fold. First, there were little reliable data upon which to draw. This problem was exacerbated by the fact that the relevant connections and relationships were developing and mutating so rapidly that they were outstripping observers’ abilities to identify and explain them. Second, there were few extant models upon which to draw in conceptualizing the nature of these illicit linkages.4 This chapter does not claim to have solved the data problem.5 However, by drawing upon a cross-national sample of scholars’ and practitioners’ insights and observations regarding the world’s most significant transnational criminal organizations and their domestic and international alliances, this theory-building chapter offers a new model that aims to sharpen our understanding of the nature of the aforementioned connections and their implications.6 Specifically, this chapter posits that the available, albeit case-specific, evidence suggests that the nature of the changes we have witnessed in the post–Cold War world are more quantitative than qualitative. In the aggregate, the problem of international organized crime (and associated corruption) is likely bigger and more threatening. But the nature of international organized crime is not fundamentally new or different.7 Moreover, while the links between transnational criminal organizations (TCOs) and corruption are real and substantial, their effects across countries are highly variable, both in degree and in consequence. In the most egregious cases, the relationships between criminals and corrupt officials may assume an advanced form of what this author terms “kleptocratic interdependence”—namely, a set of profit- and power-driven, self-reinforcing domestic and international relationships between criminal groups and government officials. In its most basic form, criminals provide financial succor to receptive (would-be) political leaders, who, once in power, in turn strive to protect those providing their largesse. These activities concomitantly serve to strengthen and enrich both the criminals and the corrupt politicians, helping them to consolidate their power while heightening their mutual dependency.8 In more advanced forms, TCOs may actually share the functions of sovereignty with the state. It is these relationships and their consequences upon which this chapter focuses. These symbiotic and strategic interrelationships are likewise not new. However , in our new so-called“flattened”world, they unfortunately provide TCOs with novel economic and political opportunities to exploit as well as with a prominence that allows them to threaten both national and international security in myriad ways.9 Again, this is not to say that the threat that TCOs pose, and, by extension, what is needed to combat them, is novel...


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