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tv   Open Phones with Sarah Chayes  CSPAN  April 18, 2016 2:30am-3:01am EDT

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ucla, you can see it is raining in southern california. this is a first in all the years we have covered this festival. we are not going to complain.
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c-span buses, we have a call in set, take your calls and talk about issues of government corruption, why corruption threatens global security. >> it came from experience but i was living in southern afghanistan. i covered the following the taliban and for national public radio. in january 2003, saying i really need to shut up already. i have no intention of focusing on corruption. i was doing standard reconstruction type work but in the very first project i wanted to do was rebuilding a village destroyed in the american
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bombing in 2002, we were trying to rebuild mudbrick houses but in order to build a mudbrick house -- if you have seen a picture of southern afghanistan you will know one of the few abundant resources is stone, but it turned out we couldn't get any stone to the foundation of mudbrick houses because the governor awarded a monopoly to himself so he could crush it into gravel and sell it to the americans who were building their military base for ten times the going price. not a good introduction to corruption but as it went on it was clear that what was actually driving people back into the arms of the talent and was not religious fanaticism or deep-seated hatred of western culture, it was almost the opposite. it was the incredibly corrupt karzai government of afghanistan
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enabled by the us government. it wasn't so much that karzai was getting punished because he was seen as too western. it was the american intervention that was tarnished as being too close to the karzai government. i discovered in 2010 that what i had thought was a specific afghanistan story turned out to be taking place in almost every other country in the world where there was a violent religious extremist movement. it was unbelievable. i started looking at nigeria, central asia, then you have the arab spring so you have half a dozen revolutions, since then we have had ukraine and a variety of other security challenges that are really driven or fueled by the sophisticated government
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corruption i don't get into as much detail. >> a very contemporary issue, the panama papers, how would that fit into your book? >> guest: it fits exactly. if you look at the names mentioned in these incredible stories of the panama papers it is like the bar scene from star wars, political leaders, their family members, business leaders, criminals, out and out criminals, what is interesting is this cast of characters mimics or mirrors the cast of characters you see in an acutely corrupt government structure. when we see corruption we think of the venal practice indulged in by some or many members of
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the government. these are not fragile or failing governments. they are sophisticated and very successful criminal organizations that are horizontally integrated across all the sectors you see popping up in the panama papers and that is the private sector. a government official will have their brother-in-law or sister-in-law that happens to own a massive holding company that includes construction firm that is getting a government contract. by the way the cousin of the chief of state will be running drugs or wildlife across the border, that is one way the panama papers is relevant. other ways this law firm is mentioned in panama papers, they represent external facilitators of these networks. we have heard about terrorist
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facilitators, the fbi will go after them. a kind of corruption facilitator and an intermediate stage in panama. the companies they incorporate are located in other secrecy havens like british virgin islands, cyprus with the cayman islands or delaware or wyoming or nevada, then these companies go on to purchase property or businesses or put money in banks? where? in los angeles, new york, miami and london, paris, etc..
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a lot of countries that see themselves is not particularly corrupt, their economies are predicated on providing corruption of services to these networks in places like nigeria, or pakistan. >> host: your book, why corruption threatens global security 202 is the area code if you would like to talk to her, 7200 in the east and central time zone, 8021 in the mountains and pacific time zone and if you want to send a text message 202, 717, 9684. if you send a text please include your first name and your city as well. from your book, where western governments pay for anticorruption efforts out of
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one pocket they are often paying off corrupt government out of another and far more lavishly budget support, military assistance, international development projects, covert cash handlers. >> absolute economy of this was what was happening in afghanistan where there were anticorruption efforts underway and that the new york times later revealed the cia was providing tens of millions of dollars per month to president, karzai. it is ironic that the united states government prosecutes businesses for paying bribes to foreign officials while the
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united states government pays bribes to foreign officials for whatever reason it may be. in a lot of cases i am sure us officials would contest the idea that military assistance is a bribe but in some cases, in the case of egypt and the camp david accord it was a very clear exchange, approximately $1 billion a year in military assistance in return for living up to the camp david accord which is why it is so difficult to leverage egypt with us international assistance because egypt is doing what you asked for, doing what you paid us to do. the other really important point about the quote you just read is from the perspective of foreign government official they are getting a variety of different
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signals from the us government. take the government of honduras the just saw the assassination of a celebrated environmental activist in a context where the united states has been a significant supporter of the honduran government. i don't know exactly whether there are any anticorruption programmings funded by usaid but corruption generally has been a huge issue in honduras for the past couple years and longer but in particular there were massive demonstrations last year over a scandal to do with their social security system. and concessions for the hydropower dams were also quite corruptly provided. so when you are the president of honduras you're looking at a panoply of different us signals that are coming at you so if usaid is spending $200,000 to
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help civil society groups from anticorruption agitation on the one hand and several hundred million or more than that worth of military assistance coming in to support security services and police and other instruments of coercion what message do you suppose you are taking from the us government? what do you think the us government thinks is important? of course you assume the anticorruption is just chat, the peanut gallery, not to be taken seriously. i know in particular when the cia is involved most foreign countries that do have interactions with the cia think the cia speaks for the us
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government. >> you have a blurb on the front, i can't imagine a more important book for our times, why corruption threatens global security, gilbert is calling in from eagle, colorado, good afternoon, go ahead with your question. >> caller: i am glad to see this. i think -- npr -- a number of things to do. >> guest: many many thanks for the length of your memory. that goes back a wild.
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it is important -- so many specific stories that seem to have to do with a single country turn out to be emblematic of a broader phenomenon and this is a phenomenon that is incredibly important, both the international security, it causes us to ask a lot of questions about what is going on at home in the united states. >> host: how much is corrupted? >> guest: impossible to make that estimate. the inspector general -- >> host: just one. >> guest: he can't even find out the amount of money the united states spends in afghanistan let alone how much was stolen in that one country. the answer is no, but it is a huge -- the estimate i heard around the panama papers is $13 trillion is socked away in these
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offshore companies and obviously all of it is not illegal or corrupt money but one wonders why does someone want to hide money? if it is listed money why would you want to hide it? >> host: you are on with father sarah chayes. >> caller: regarding the panama papers how likely, the absence of american names on this list, how frequent our american -- virgin islands and cayman islands, and common to the fact
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that london, new york, western economy, culture, launder and park ill-gotten money? >> guest: the first one is americans don't need to go to panama or the cayman islands for companies to be domiciled, three of the biggest locations in the united states, delaware, nevada and wyoming. those of the top ones, when i first was working in afghanistan, it has been set up
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by karzai's brother, who is a resident of the state of maryland and what was curious to me and i never thought of it is he established this in delaware and i couldn't understand why was the case. i went to set up my own ngo in massachusetts and experienced the type of rigor and audits and financial whatever, information i had to provide on a daily basis but this was strange because we never had to provide any of this accounting and now i understand why and so it is not just what you mentioned like new york and london, but i think corporate -- i may have the number not quite accurate but i think corporate, the
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establishment of corporations accounts for 1/5 of the state of delaware's revenue. so the point is the economy of we uncorrupted countries are predicated on dirty money and that does mean new york and london, prime minister cameron of the united kingdom is about to have a big anticorruption summit in may. i have been to some extent had the conversation with members of staff and other anticorruption activists who have been saying if you don't start at home with the city of london and the british overseas territories this summit is going to be a laughingstock. we didn't realize panama papers were about to happen but i hope
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that put a fire under the uk government. >> host: in your book in the last chapter you write iceland was a model of a northern european market-driven democracy that fell prey to partial capture by a tightknit network of government officials and banking executives. >> guest: that brings us to the next question. we have been discussing the united states as a purveyor of corruption services to governments that were corrupt . i would love to recite a quote, you have been reciting from the book. i would like to recite a quote from a 17th-century political philosopher named john locke whose work was the basis of our own constitution and he said in
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the second treatise on government when their is a barefaced wreck sing of the law to serve the purposes of a man or party of blue blue, war is made on the sufferers who lacking an appeal on earth to write them are left to the only remedy in such cases an appeal to heaven. basically predicting violent alleges extremism as a reaction to the system but laws being bent to serve the purposes of a man or party of men. let's look at the united states today. let's look at the outside influence of a number of economic sectors. the military industrial complex
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if you will, big pharma or the health industry, the energy industry, wall street, these industries have been incredibly successful in bending our laws to serve their objectives. i did not go too deep into the us parallel i don't think the united states is not on this spectrum. >> host: next call from diana in columbus, ohio. >> caller: a normal person cannot comprehend a rapist or killer. i don't think that as normal people we can understand the concept of all these governments being so corrupt. i never imagined in my wildest dreams that there was so much
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lying and in spirit and evasion of money. it amazes me and puts the dots together and helps me to understand why we are in the shape we are in in the world and i am wondering if she could expand on that. >> guest: it took me two or three years to wrap my mind around what i was seeing and experiencing. i spent two weeks crying about it as it started to hit home. i think you are onto something profound and it has something to
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do with the changing role of money in our society and i don't want to sound like a total cliché and they money is the root of all evil but i do think there has been a remarkable shift in the roles, the social role of money since the 1980s and what is happening is i think before that, it comes and goes. this isn't the first time in human history that money as played by rules outside the rules. but what is happening is money as a measuring stick for social success has trump, if you will, a lot of other ideals. culture has a set of ideals that
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members of those cultures who aspire to excellence are supposed to strive for and those ideals may be courage or generosity, integrity, hard work, inventiveness, you can imagine the different ideals and we can claim to be driven by those ideals but in fact, that measures your success. we exported it to the rest of the world. two weeks in nigeria a couple months ago asking people has the meaning of money changed in your
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lifetime and answers were so articulate and things like we used to use money to purchase things that we needed. now money is used to get things that god doesn't want. it was profound. it was amazing. it is up to all of us to figure out how to reverse this trend and start honoring tereus leave the other ideals that our culture has put out there on the table. >> host: nigeria is an example it's features prominently in fees and state. gary is in the poconos, pennsylvania. >> caller: how are you?
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hello? >> host: go ahead. >> caller: there is more corruption in the united states than any other country in the world. it starts in the white house and that is where all the people are robbing and stealing from every citizen, 300 million people. for years and years without working, hundreds of thousands of dollars. they take money from people. all kinds -- rob people, say they did that and do that. >> host: you put the us on the spectrum. >> guest: i do think the way corruption takes place here is usually somewhat more indirect
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and camouflaged blues not always but usually. than it is in a place like nigeria or pakistan. >> host: with the revelation from the panama papers does this strengthen switzerland's hand? >> guest: switzerland is under increasing scrutiny so is moving toward providing somewhat more insight into their customers so you immediately have new countries popping up, latvia is an interesting one, you have heard of mold over, a little country that sits between
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>> so your question about how does this impact diplomatic relations is a very important one, indeed.
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>> host: and in her book, "thieves of state," sarah chayes quotes: there has to be a general recognition that this crisis is moral as well as economic. "thieves of state" is the name of the book.
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