That corruption breeds extremism is one of the abiding lessons of the last decade plus. Whether it is Nigeria, Egypt, Somalia, Tunisia, Iraq, Afghanistan or Uzbekistan, allowing what a recent Carnegie Endowment report terms “acute, systemic” corruption to fester is the equivalent of putting out a welcome mat for extremists, home-grown and foreign. Eleven days after President Trump takes office, the world will see whether his national security team has absorbed this lesson.
January 31, 2017, is the day the Trump Administration must tell an American judge whether it will continue negotiations with the Government of Uzbekistan over the return $850 million in bribes paid in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act the Department of Justice has frozen. Following a Bush Administration policy continued by the Obama Administration, the U.S. government position has been that such funds should go back the country of origin only if:
- the government take steps to curb grand corruption and
- the monies are used to improve the lives of ordinary citizens.
Candidate Trump called the FCPA a “horrible” law. On the 31st the world will see what that means in practice. He could, as I explain here an article for the U.S. newspaper The Hill, tell the judge he has decided to turn the money over to the Uzbek government without strings. That result would certainly show how horrible he thinks the FCPA is. It would also ease the task the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, the Islamic Jihad Union, and the other radical groups in Central Asia have set of overthrowing the endemically corrupt Uzbek government.
Will the Trump Administration realize that fighting extremism requires fighting corruption? Visit this blog February 1 for at least the first answer to the question.