Will the Trump Administration Realize that Fighting Extremism Requires Fighting Corruption?

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:

  1. the government take steps to curb grand corruption and
  2. 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.

4 thoughts on “Will the Trump Administration Realize that Fighting Extremism Requires Fighting Corruption?

  1. Fighting corruption means above all prohibiting Swiss banks to clear transactions in USD. Equally, European governments should refuse the EU passport to all Swiss, Luxembourg banks that may facilitate money laundering and other criminal activities. Only when governments will realize that sanctions similar to those imposed to North Corea, western citizens will be able to trust their law makers who seemed captured by vested interests.

  2. In short, I wouldn’t count on it. As the New York Times explained in a recent article “Shielding Seized Assets From Corruption’s Clutches”, it is complex and challenging to repatriate money to systemically corrupt nations such that it benefits the lives of ordinary citizens. It seems to me that Trump does not do well with complexity. He has also demonstrated a poor understanding of both corruption and extremism. Regarding the former, he refuses to recognize his own conflicts of interest; and for the latter, he and some of his advisors dangerously elide violent extremists with 1.6 billion Muslims around the world.

    Absent a clearly-worded statement, I am unconvinced that a Trump administration decision NOT to return the money would indicate some nuanced understanding of the connection between corruption and extremism. We will know more on February 1st.

    • You did not miss a follup post containing an update. In fact your comment prompted me to write this update. Thanks.

      The court issued another stay on January 31 (it has yet to be entered into the online data base PACER). The stay gives the US government and the government of Uzbekistan another 90 days to try to negotiate an agreed resolution to the two cases. So the good news that at least so far the Trump Administration sees the advantage to returning the assets with conditions.

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