corruption, many things are different when comparing corruption in Afghanistan, Somalia, Denmark and New Zealand. However, some things never change. The thing that has changed in Denmark and New Zealand that might change the situation for the better in Afghanistan, Somalia, and the U.S. is the facilitation of whistle blowing.
In Afghanistan and Somalia, war has made corruption much of what it is.
An example is readily available from Somalia. In this case, the current president of Somalia attacked a recent United Nations report that said that his government's security forces were ineffective and corrupt. The report said that much as half of the food aid to his country was routinely stolen. The corruption is pervasive, amongst the Somali armed forces and amongst private contractors (Gettleman, 2010).
One remedy for corruption is seen in an organization know as Transperancy International. This organization is leading the fight against corruption worldwide. Since it was founded in 1993, it has grown into over 90 locally established national chapters and chapters that are being formed. The bodies fight corruption in their home countries across the board with players from government, civil society, business and media in order to promote transparency in elections, public administration, in procurement and in business. The network of chapters uses advocacy campaigns to promote anti-corruption reforms. The organization feels that transparency is the best and most effective way to fight corruption in both business and in government ("Transparency international, " 2010). Organizations such as TI rank countries according to the level of corruption in them and provide a yardstick to measure corruption with.
Corruption is also pervasive in Afghanistan. For instance, General H. Petraeus at almost every meeting with senior NATO officials at his Afghanistan headquarters says that the biggest problem for the U.S. war campaign in Afghanistan is government corruption. Petraeus's predecessor Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal also had much of the same problems. The counterinsurgency goals depend on fighting the corruption which is the top reason that many Afghans support the Taliban over the government. According to General Petraeus, corruption and black-market business that is just a bit less that Afghanistan's gross domestic product. According to U.N. statistics, it is estimated that about half of the country's GDP comes from smuggling and the illicit taxes that are levied on lorries crisscrossing Afghanistan. $2.5 billion in bribes is paid every year, with stolen Afghan government revenue topping $1 billion. Billions more is also pilfered from foreign aid and NATO contracts according to a briefing prepared by the anti-corruption task force of NATO (Partlow, 2010). As we have seen above, this is also the case in Afghanistan. Unfortunately, the influences of corruption are pervasive. They stifle business and government planning, inject despair and paralysis into the system and lead to an eventual breakdown of society and government in the case of Afghanistan and Somalia to the extent that at best they have an ineffective central government in constant battle with rebellious elements and warlords (Afghanistan) or a completely collapsed and failed state like Somalia where the government and society completely fell apart and the state itself proved itself a failed entity.
The populations of both countries, both of which were battlegrounds between the U.S. And former Soviet Union during the Cold War, have fallen into selling drugs to make up for the collapse of the majority of the limited legitimate economy. In an article for the Washington Post by Emily Wax, she documents how former fifth grade school teacher Maryann Ali now sells khat, a chewable narcotic plant, to support herself. It is one of few remaining jobs in war-torn Somalia and she does it simply to survive. In addition to destabilizing Somalia, it has also affected neighboring Kenya and Ethiopia where farmers began uprooting their coffee plants and growing khat when the world coffee market crashed in the 1990s and early 2000s. Today, Kenya exports about $250 million of khat annually. This beats out tea as one of the county's most lucrative exports, according to the Kenyan government. (Wax, 2006). In Afghanistan, Professor Alfred McCoy of the University of Wisconsin Madison is a researcher who documents the history of opium sales and complicity on the part of the U.S. CIA and its allies in Third World Wars. His series of books, including the Politics of Heroin have provided documentation of by how the CIA backed Afghan mujahadeen prosecuted their war against the Soviets with the sale of opium and how this trade have blossomed into the present drug dominated Afghan economy (McCoy, 2010).
As documented in the Wax article, normal social services break down and talented individuals such as Maryann Ali end up engaging their efforts in the illegitimate economy since it is the only one available. What economic activity remains (and the local populations depend upon this for their livelihood) is dependent upon phenomena such as the drug trade. If the Somali and Afghan regimes do not tolerate the illicit activity (and many times they are complicit at best, if not the dominating element), they may be overthrown as was the Taliban regime when it attempted to eradicate opium poppy in 2001, as documented in McCoy's research that has received accolades even from the Economist ("Coincidental spike?, " 2010).
The drug trade brings with it a universally documented litany of negative effects. Crime rates and lawlessness go through the roof. The illicit, violent nature of the economy makes normal economic activity and planning impossible. Needless to say, poverty levels also go through the roof and the countries affected have basket case economies that have to be bailed out by the rest of the normally functioning world. As documented above, this puts ethical governments and international organizations in a double bind. They must help and interact with the people (warts and all so to speak) and make agonizing decisions everyday about how to handle unavoidable everyday interactions with the criminal elements that make up the economy and could overthrow them and their aid efforts easily.
Interestingly enough, the U.S., Afghanistan and Somalia show some disturbing commonalities despite their obvious differences in locations as different as southwest Asia, the horn of Africa and North America. All three have growing populations with soaring poverty, decrepit economies crippled by war, declining educational systems and governments, businesses and charities have to deal with war-time economies. Like a patient with multiple physical problems, the body politic is sick all over and only so much can be done for a dying patient.
New Zealand and Denmark have been lifted up high as paragons of moral integrity. Both countries have low populations, fairly profitable GDP's, high educational availability and lower poverty and crime rates. However, corruption is always just under the radar screens even in these countries even in far flung locations such as the south Pacific and in the north of Western Europe. Our friends at TI give Denmark and New Zealand very high ratings in terms of fighting corruption giving both a score of 9.4, the highest in the world ("The 2006 transparency," 2007).
Denmark has been especially active in this venue. In 2004, the Danish government launched an Action Plan to fight corruption and developed a Code of Conduct which in few words can be boiled down to a zero tolerance policy. In addition, it established an Anti-Corruption Hotline to enable people to report misuse of government funds. In other words, it facilitated the might of the almighty whistle blower as the watchdog of the Danish governmental system ("Anti-corruption," 2006 ). New Zealand has a similar system. Whistle blower protection legislation in New Zealand is centered on the Protected Disclosures Act 2000 (PDA) concerned with government agencies. ("Caslon analytics guide," 2008) In comparison, the U.S. is still grappling with protecting whistleblowers in government, let alone in business. The differences in the violence…