Partnering to End Corruption through Security Cooperation and Defense Institution Building
by Adam J. Bushey
Corruption damages a mission’s operational effectiveness and credibility and is “a key inhibitor of stability… is often a key cause of conflict… and erodes the legitimacy and efficacy of an international mission.” The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has the expertise and capabilities to assist the Department of Defense (DoD) to tackle corruption, support mission operations, reduce violent extremism, and increase government legitimacy and citizen confidence.
Ignoring corruption, even within “friendly groups,” has had detrimental results. Current U.S. National Security Advisor, Lieutenant General H. R. McMaster states, “Paradoxically, avoiding state building or sidestepping the political causes of state weakness in the hope of avoiding costly or protracted commitments often increases costs and extends efforts in time.” In fragile states, self-protection forces and other powerbrokers often provide security, distribute aid, deliver justice, and supply jobs in lieu of government intervention. While U.S. assistance to these forces may secure short-term gains, if not done carefully, these self-protection forces “have a tendency to evolve into predatory groups, attacking external enemies while extorting or preying upon their own community.” Such extortion and corruption reinforces ethnic, religious, and other divisions that fuel cycles of violence; this makes peace more difficult and prolongs the need for international forces. In 2014, DoD concluded that initial support of warlords in Afghanistan created an environment that exacerbated criminal patronage networks and fostered corruption, which ultimately had significant unintended consequences for U.S. strategy…
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| About the Author:
Major Adam J. Bushey serves as a Judge Advocate (JAG) in the Army Reserves. He first joined the military in 2008 and deployed to Afghanistan in 2010 as the Rule of Law JAG for the 86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team. He started at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in 2007 and now as a Democracy Specialist holds a position in USAID’s Center of Excellence on Democracy, Human Rights and Governance.