Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The Relationship Between Government Corruption and Failed Nation-Building

Transparency International has come out with its latest Corruption Perceptions Index (2015), shedding light on the global problem of governments that abuse their power, encourage bribery and use secret deals to enrich themselves.  It is quite an interesting exercise to look through the list of the most corrupt nations/governments in the world and see how many of them have a close association with the Western-based nation-building plans.

Transparency International scores each nation on a 100 point Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) scale with the highest level of perceived corruption scoring a 0 and the lowest level of perceived corruption scoring a 100.  Data to calculate the CPI is taken from a selection of sources that provide perceptions of business people and other experts of the level of corruption in the public sector of each nation.  Sources used to calculate the CPI must be quantifiable, must use a reliable and valid methodology which scores multiple nations on the same scale, must be performed repeatedly by a credible organization and must allow for a variation of scores so that corruption levels between countries are distinguishable.  For a country to be included in the Transparency International evaluation, a minimum of three different sources must be used to assess that nation.   

Here is a map showing the rankings for each of the nations in the study with the least corrupt nations coloured light yellow and the most corrupt nations coloured dark red:

Note that all countries have some level of perceived public sector corruption and that 68 percent of nations in the world have a serious corruption problem.  It is also surprising to note that half of the G20 nations, the world's largest economies, have a serious corruption problem, including India, China, Russia, Brazil, Indonesia, Argentina and Mexico.

Now, let's focus on the world's most corrupt nations.  Here is a table showing the ten most corrupt nations in 2015 along with their scores from 2012 to 2014:

It's interesting to note that three nations, Afghanistan, Libya and Iraq, have all been the "beneficiaries" of Western/American-based nation-building exercises over the past decade and a half.  As well, U.S. involvement in the newly minted South Sudan which voted to secede from Sudan in 2011, Sudan itself and Somalia have certainly not made any positive impact on the level of perceived government corruption.

Let's focus on Iraq for a moment, the biggest nation-building project undertaken by the Coalition of the Willing.  Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has pledged to put an end to the nation's endemic corruption.  On August 9, 2015, he announced unprecedented reforms which included the cancellation of some of the most senior positions in Iraq's government including the posts of Deputy Prime Minister and Vice President in an attempt to put an end to the sectarian quota system.  This was largely done to quiet the civil protests which took place across Iraq by citizens angered at the government's inability to provide basic services like electricity since the collapse of the Hussein regime in 2003.  

Here are Abadi's proposed reforms:

"1. Complete and instant waning of security personnel for ALL high officials, and redirecting all security personnel to the Ministry of Defense to be trained and defend the country on the forefront.

2. Rescinding all exclusivity (in terms of treatment, priority, etc.) allocated to high government positions, including retired personnel.

3. A ban on the application of a quota system on high positions in Ministries, Independent Commissions, advisors, etc. The PM will form a committee to oversee the sacking of unqualified personnel, and their replacement on the basis of merit.

4. Condensing and merging ministries and institutions to raise qualification and efficiency standards, as well as cost reduction.

5. Dissolving the positions of Deputies to the President, and to the Prime Minister immediately.

6. Revisiting old and current corruption cases under the supervision of a High Commission to fight corruption, comprised of experts, as well as appointing judges to oversee these cases known for their untainted integrity.

7. A call to the Cabinet of Ministers, then Parliament, to approve these measures, in order for the Prime Minister to respond to the people's demands made through the Marja'iya [the High Religious Establishment in Najaf]."

It is a sad commentary on the failure of the Iraqi nation rebuilding exercise that it has taken 13 years to rebuild the federal government so that it has any hope of providing the most basic services to its own people and that the nation, allegedly rebuilt on the Western model of democracy, is still considered one of the most corrupt nations in the world.

With several of the world's most corrupt governments being among the nations that have recently experienced outside intervention by the world's developed economies, one would almost think that there was a relationship developing between conflict and corruption. 


  1. Ukraine is its own worst enemy. Whether we win or not is hard to predict but a bad system always beats a good person

    1. The issue of corruption haunts societies across the world and is deeply rooted in most governments. It is important we recognize just how damaging it is to the people who live under its influence. When it come to Ukraine a while back I pointed out the euro-zone currently faced a lot of problems without jumping into a proxy war with rebels in Ukraine. Obama calls those in rebel held areas "terrorist" and Putin labels them freedom fighters. When it comes down to it we and the people of Ukraine are just pawns in a sad power game. If you doubt this just ask some of the many millions of people displaced from their homes in Syria.

      It is a very important starting point to remember Ukraine was and is a failed state. Sadly, Washington is trying to repaint that picture and ignoring reality. The best way for the West and Kiev to prove they are on the right path is by letting the eastern part of the country seceded and then making Kiev a center of economic and democratic success. The article below argues throwing arms into the area will only bring about more death.