Friday, May 03, 2013

Corruption: Clients and Enablers

Source: ISN
Clients and Enablers

According to Mark Galeotti, nation-states, mercenaries and corruption are all part of a social superstructure that facilitates the privatization of violence and the criminalization of state assets. Today, we revisit the “Adventures of a Would Be Arms Dealer” to illustrate how criminal entrepreneurs exploit these forces for their personal gain.

By Mark Galeotti for the ISN
Like any complex and transnational market process, the privatization of violence and the criminalization of state assets and roles also requires a substantial superstructure of enablers.

Sometimes, these are the states involved themselves, which choose to ignore or even assist the processes for their own purposes. Domestic arms industries in times of dearth can be proposed up by judicious grey market and illegal sales, for example (as many post-Soviet states proved in the 1990s). The arms producers, dealers and shippers—together composing the “arsenal of anarchy”—not only permit the violent entrepreneurs to continue to ply their trade with greater lethal efficiency, they also have every incentive in encouraging them.

Mercenaries—increasingly cloaked in the more respectable language of “private military corporations”—provide “surge’ capacity for Western governments abroad (by 2010, there were 94,413 contractors in Afghanistan, compared with 91,600 US troops). However, they also bring muscle, training and specialized assistance in support of local warlords, non-state actors and also repressive regimes looking to create cadres willing to crack down on local opposition without concern for local loyalties or long-term legality. In this respect, the challenge is not so much the penetration and corruption of the state, so much as certain states’ willingness to employ and depend upon private sources of violence.

Corruption, as noted in previous sections, facilitates and protects all such activates, but in general the fuel that drives all these operations—as well as the primary motivation of their participants—is money. A willingness by elements of the international finance and business community to deal with criminals, warlords and kleptocrats is essential to maintaining the flow of resources into the hands of gunrunners, warlords and offshore havens alike. Although there have been serious efforts to address the market in “blood diamonds” (diamonds from war zones mined or sold by insurgents, warlords or invaders), as well as other “conflict miners” such as coltan from Congo, this is still a major challenge.

Mark Galeotti is Professor of Global Affairs at New York University’s SCPS Center for Global Affairs and author of the In Moscow’s Shadows blog.