State capture is a particularly nefarious form of systemic corruption, which has defined certain African countries in recent years. It entails private individuals gaining such a profound influence over senior officials that state institutions prioritise the welfare of those private interests over the public good.
There is a triangular pattern to such arrangements. The external partners and the colluding political actors profit handsomely – while the public foots the bill.
Apart from selling arms and natural resources, Russia may not know how to make money in ways above board and transparent, but it knows how to steal all that it wants. In mafia fashion, even the reference “Wagner Group” has submerged into enshadowed networks.
he Wagner Group is one of the most well-known and prolific PMCs in the world. Nevertheless, exact details about the group are difficult to confirm, with its organizational structure remaining deliberately obscure. The Wagner Group does not officially exist, with the name instead applied to an overlapping network of businesses and private military forces that are believed to enjoy the implicit but unrecognized support of the Russian state (Foreign Policy, 6 July 2021).1
In recent years, the Wagner Group has actively engaged in conflicts across multiple countries in Africa and the Middle East, including Syria, Libya, Mozambique, and CAR. Reports also suggest that they have engaged in activities in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola, Madagascar, Zimbabwe, and Sudan (Africanews, 22 March 2022), with operations in up to 30 countries across the world (Center for Strategic & International Studies, September 2020).
BackChannels scrapes up the outside story, lol, as it sees the world through Windows–but what a world is now online for gathering in the research of extraordinary journalists and institutions and having at hand a broad and thorough impression of challenges to civility, democracy, law, and peace worldwide. Here with this short patch of reference related to Russia’s hybrid aggression in the cause of immense theft–no ethical, human, or moral cost is too high for plundering states and suborning the dictators who had thought they were in charge–comes a display of transnational crime breathtaking in its depravity and scope.
If only Africans knew what was being done to them with Moscow’s endorsement for Moscow’s pleasure.
Russia Paid Off European Politicians In Relation to Ukraine and Violence Elsewhere
Since Russia launched its brutal invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, condemnation of Vladimir Putin’s overseas aggression has reached a fever pitch. Yet Russia can still rely on the occasional friendly voice in Europe: Last November, for example, far-right Italian local legislator Stefano Valdegamberi penned an op-ed decrying the EU’s decision to designate Russia a terrorist state as “a serious mistake” that “foments conflict by denying historical truth.”
But what Valdegamberi didn’t mention was that he had long been collaborating with a secretive Russian lobbying group with a direct link to the Kremlin. Since at least 2014, that group had designed plans to channel cash to European politicians to help it legitimize Russia’s occupation of Crimea and promote pro-Moscow policies inside EU countries.
America Has Lost Its Objectivity Over “Spy Balloon”, Says Chinese Pundit–And He’s Right
Influential commentator Hu Xijin blamed American “politicization” and “hype” for preventing the incident from escalating, saying that competition to look tough on China meant that the United States “has already lost its objectivity.”
In the normal course attending diplomatic incidents, investigations ensue, and with “spy data” presumed already transmitted, there would seem not much point in destroying the technology involved in the overflight. Of course, there was Gary Powers too, so Biden did what ranting Republicans appeared to expect in the way of “tough” leadership. It was not a good decision nor display of national air and space defense–the object should have been addressed and turned or interdicted on or just past arrival in American air space.
China has already apologized for the incident–“On Friday, China’s Foreign Ministry confirmed that the balloon was theirs, but called it a “civilian airship used for research, mainly meteorological purposes,” that had gone off course. And the ministry expressed rare “regret” for the incident.” Beijing should now follow up with details regarding the research mission and its technology, in general, while the U.S. Navy attempts retrieval of the drowned payload.
The Silencing by Removal of Ilhan Omar From the Foreign Affairs Committee
Omar herself had asked (same article), “‘Why is it OK for me to talk about the influence of the (National Rifle Association), or fossil fuel industries or Big Pharma, and not talk about a powerful lobbying group that is influencing policy?'”
Conservative and liberal Americans have now to ask this question: what else is off the table?
Who hasn’t an ox?
Our American system relies on compassion, education, intelligence, open discourse, earnest problem-solving abilities, and respect, not religious or tribal hate.
Apparently, some Jews–not this one although I have become with experience very much an American of Jewish descent–believe Ilhan Omar’s election and voice should be nullified where it most counts, and suspicion, for that is what is expressed by, “. . . pretends not to be an antisemite”, put in place of of argument, education, and reason. The only lesson imparted: don’t mess with the Jews, even if and when they are wrong.
The Rus warlords Oleg of Novgorod and Sviatoslav I of Kiev launched several wars against the Khazar khaganate, often with Byzantine connivance. The Schechter Letter relates the story of a campaign against Khazaria by HLGW (Oleg) around 941 (in which Oleg was defeated by the Khazar general Pesakh; this calls into question the timeline of the Primary Chronicle and other related works on the history of the Eastern Slavs.
Sviatoslav finally succeeded in destroying Khazar imperial power in the 960s. The Khazar fortresses of Sarkel and Tamatarkha fell to the Rus in 965, with the capital city of Atil following circa 967 or 969. A visitor to Atil wrote soon after the sacking of the city: “The Rus attacked, and no grape or raisin remained, not a leaf on a branch.”
Putin’s delusional accusations regarding Nazism in Ukraine better fit description as the “Paranoid Delusional Narcissistic Reflection of Motivation” than any dominant or significant political stance held in modern Ukraine, and the same may better inform Russians and the residents of EU/NATO of the character of his insanity than any truth about international affairs.
Cause: Aid and Compensation for the harms and indignities imposed on those trapped within the Soviet-controlled German Democratic Republic and subject to enslavement and punishment at the hands of the state’s secret police, the Stasi (Ministerium für Staatsicherheit).
We mere humans just don’t own time. For atheists, time is just a fact of life.
We do, again, and each as representative of Homo Sapiens sapiens, and for better or worse, own our memories.
It has been our species’ great misfortune to find always some portion of our numbers made to suffer at the hands of others.
Forget “God, Nature, and the Universe”. The earthquake, hurricane, tsunami, and volcano would seem possessed of physics and entirely dispossessed of conscience except that some of us believe that in the presence of one or the other, divine providence destroyed our lives or saved them.
Degradation, dehumanization, enslavement, subjugation, subjection, and other such evils–those are different, and in the history of our species, one sees the chains and whips changing hands by turns, and, sigh, we may feel ourselves lucky if wielding the whip . . . but then nothing lasts beyond bearing except a number of nefarious processes that we perhaps have not wrestled sufficiently into the past. So here we may acknowledge that we don’t get to erase our bad memories; we don’t get to retrieve the dead; we may or may not have some revenge on our tormentors–and if it was ourselves that held the keys and snapped the whips, our day–we know it secretly–has come–or will.
I believe it in the tendency of our species to develop awareness, compassion, conscience, consciousness, empathy, greater integrity and reason, and at the end of every dastardly era, great human sensibility and wisdom.
I was asked not long ago to help promote the cause of the internally displaced in place of the once Soviet-controlled and Communist German Democratic Republic.
Imagine, if you will, going to sleep in one dismal but predictable awful cultural, legal, political, and social circumstance and waking the next day without a country–and afterward a “democratic open society of the west” that prides itself on compassion but hasn’t much in place for you–and then years later when it does . . . you’re no more important in it than you were in the other place.
Perhaps one’s personal circumstance has become more bearable , the powers that be more polite, and amends for the insufferable past made with good will whether or not sufficient to quells bad memories and the residuals in nightmares.
I have found in overview–remember my analytical discipline: collect, select, and opine–that East Germany’s internal migrants, all of whom went to sleep in one place in time and woke up in another entirely–have not been overlooked but perhaps underserved in the regions of cultural and economic development. In the Soviet way, they had been locked down in time, suffocated, surveilled, deprived of normal human political and social processes, and subject to deliberate state-driven control, diminishment, and, ultimately, erasure.
How would even the most benevolent of modern societies “compensate” for that experience?
Well . . . there is today the business of living well enough to create and enjoy better memories in freedom and with at least a modicum of privacy (although the “modern” appear to have some new horrors on the horizon, e.g., massive intrusion via data sifting) as well as dignity and security.
Now and then, I haul out Qualities of Living (QOLs) a conceptual alternative to thinking about power as an expression of grandiose narcissistic ambition with accompanying control and influence ascribed to a potentate absolute or constitutional. What if power were more often the power to bring extraordinary improvement to geopolitical space in the many dimensions to be appreciated by the inhabitants of a given space?
After 1990 “the whole software of life changed” for east Germans, says Markus Kerber, a bigwig at the interior ministry. Short-term pain was inevitable. Average labour productivity in the east was 30% of that in the west. Kohl’s decision to exchange Ostmarks at a 1:1 rate for Deutschmarks made swathes of firms uncompetitive overnight. Those that survived struggled with the western rules they had to import wholesale. By one estimate, 80% of east Germans at some point found themselves out of work.
Perhaps the Treuhand could have proceeded more gently, some argue today.
Cultural and economic adjustment, development, inclusion with some foresight and vision may turn out the key that will finally fix the past in the past where it needs to be. In this day, however, quite a number of cultures, groups, and just plain people have taken up the causes of yesterday, exhumed and tallied abuses, ranted high and low for justice, but the best all may do is not relive what’s gone and take pains–whatever it was–not to see it happen again.
In the 1970s the MfS changed its secret police activities and began increasingly to use “softer” methods. The GDR leadership did not want to compromise its attempts to gain international recognition: persecution and repression were to be concealed. The MfS now focused more on preventive surveillance and so-called “psychic demolition”. It used manipulation and targeted rumours in its attempts to systematically intimidate individuals or groups, to ruin their reputations, isolate or criminalize them. Friendships were destroyed, and professional careers ruined without the victims even realizing why.
However, the change in methods did not lead to any let-up in the repressive pressure exerted by the MfS. And the aim also remained the same: to prevent the development of non-conformist or dissident ideas and behaviour.
The rest of the group agreed that the destruction of trust was one of the most painful legacies of their experiences in the GDR. The dense informer network meant that everyone spied on one another. Many did not find out who had informed on them until decades later, when they requested their Stasi file.
So in the 1970s, the masterminds at Stasi School — formally known as the College of Legal Studies — decided on a new, more subtle tactic of repression, a way of stamping out rebellion without the overt use of force.
Instead of pounding their suspects into submission, they would send them mad. And so began the policy of Zersetzung.
The word meant disintegration or corrosion or decomposition. Today we would call it ‘gaslighting’ — playing with someone’s mind and self-worth until any resistance crumbles and he or she becomes either compliant or apathetic.
Six phases of postwar immigration to Germany can be distinguished (see table 2; see also Martin 1991; Münz and Ulrich 1993; Rudolph 1994; Seifert 1995). The first phase was dominated by the immigration of Germans: expellees, citizens of the GDR, other ethnic Germans
Born into poverty in pre-World War I Berlin, Mr. Mielke joined the Communist youth movement at age 15, and his career epitomized the grimness of Communist rule in East Germany, where assassination, kidnapping, execution, denunciation and intimidation were used to achieve and maintain power under the long, menacing shadow of the Soviet Union.
Mr. Mielke and the ministry for state security kept the 16.5 million people of East Germany obedient to Communism and repressed dissent for more than 30 years. Not only did the ministry pursue an effective campaign against those it regarded as enemies of the state, but its army of 90,000 agents and 260,000 informers finally turned East Germany into a country that spied on itself.
I don’t know, but both alone and in community we most naturally make ourselves comfortable and secure if, when, and where we can. “Living well” with agency, autonomy, dignity, efficacy, freedom, inclusion beats all of the alternatives, and living well with some thoughtful planning for ourselves, our own, and others . . . I would call that repair and profound improvement.
While China had been slow to accede to the multilateral Biological Weapons Convention and expressed interest in biological warfare competition, the world has not committed to the Wuhan Level 4 Biological Laboratory narrative regarding Chinese state culpability. There above (viewable on Amazon Prime Video) is the trailer from a counterintelligence thriller directed by the British auteur Michael Apted and released to the viewing public in 2017, about three years before the natural/unnatural dissemination of the COVID-19 strand and its effects.
So we may not know how Covid-19 got started, but we well know what it has done to our species’ natural biological and social existence, and we know who and what the disease has decimated financially or enriched beyond estimation.
Biological Warfare II Narcotics
While narcotics are money makers for burgeoning Transnational Crime Organizations as well as stimulus for police and paramilitary counter-narcotics budgets worldwide, the same represent also a form of biological warfare (snorted, swallowed, poked, and smoked into human frames with myriad rationales) that effectively deflects and degrades the energies and lives of untold millions worldwide while facilitating as well cultural and social chaos, decay, and despair. However made, narcotics money percolates upward — or across if sufficiently funded for the experience (Robin Williams: “Cocaine is God’s way of telling you that you are making too much money”) — and the $1 billion slurried up from Kensington Avenue becomes one Big Billion Dollar Infusion for spending in and around Philadelphia or anywhere else it may care to go.
One cannot underestimate the propensity for ruthless threat and violence on the part of the world’s smugglers nor ignore the impact of the kind of money involved in smuggling — arms, drugs, humans for labor and for sex — all are money (really, just business) to the cartels, freelancers, and gangs involved in inveigling the world in vice and looting it by force. It has gotten so bad that cocaine and funding for terrorism has become a negotiated commodity between statesmen as well as a major headache for intelligence and law enforcement authorities.
Add, perhaps, what goes on behind the curtains.
So what happens to all that dirty money?
As suggested about Philadelphia’s infamous Kensington Avenue narcotics market, what the dealers scrape off the streets moves around and upward into cars and real estate or onward to other criminal or terrorist enterprises (and backwards: no new products, no sales). With bulk purchases (e.g., cars rounded up for export and sales overseas) or luxurious ones, the very next sale cleans the money and into town it goes.
Corruption II Business Private and Slick
Business and politics in feudal systems structured around Absolute Power, whether of corporation or state, may have features resembling corruption–bribes become incentives, kickbacks rewards, the receiving of less noble hooch and nookie pleasant encouragement for sealing a less private, more notable and admirable business deal. The details may disappear in the vapors of hangovers and lost memories, and that’s the end of the story. Take it a little further, however, and an act of indiscretion, pleasantly offered, may become leverage for blackmail and coercion. Jeffrey Epstein socialized among and with the powerful of the world, and he had his relationship with Putin too: was what he was doing really about an old perv with his own treasury?
Are America’s wealthy in some ways destroying their own national culture for a little bit of business or, perhaps, doing so out of naivete?
You tell me.
What happens in El Norte moves into and may add to the chaos and misery known to Latin America in the sway of local and regional “narconomies”.
I have a Twitter trope that I’ll restate here without counting the letters:
North American arms–>south to Latin American gangs and cartels; LA migrants–>North; NA cash–>south; LA illicit everything–>north.
America’s black market arms (see Gaynor and Grillo in reference) are not the only ones reaching Latin America, but that the system has been large and persistent and with much related activity eating away at the country’s ethical, financial, moral, and social integrity, one wonders if it isn’t time for the “authorities” to get smarter and the “bad guys” — or the desperate — to have better options with perhaps a little less ambition before “what goes around” really does return in karmic fashion.
Kleptocracy, or “rule by thieves,” has for too long been disregarded from mainstream foreign policy discussions. It is often overlooked as a peripheral economic development issue: A problem for tax justice advocates and foreign aid workers. Yet it has been shaping international politics and the global security environment for decades. The Biden-Harris administration will have an unprecedented opportunity—and a unique responsibility—to confront this pervasive threat with decisive action.
This chance comes not come a moment too soon. Since the end of the Cold War, corruption has metastasized beyond national borders into a problem of almost unimaginable scale. The United Nations has estimated that $1 trillion are paid in bribes and a further $2.3 trillion otherwise stolen annually.1 Global Financial Integrity, a Washington-based think tank, cites corruption as a key factor in $8.7 trillion that vanished from official records of trade between 135 developing countries and 36 advanced economies from 2008-2017.2