Summary of Thieves of State

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8 Overall

8 Applicability

8 Innovation

9 Style


When award-winning NPR journalist and eventual adviser to the Joint Chiefs of Staff Sarah Chayes first lived in Kandahar, Afghanistan, she watched firsthand as warlords took control of the country. In Afghanistan, deep, systematic corruption was the norm. People did not trust officials any more than they trusted extremists. While the United States saw its principal task as fighting insurgents, Chayes realized that the root cause of the spread of violence was government corruption. The only real way to counter extremism was to establish good governance. In addition to her illuminating analysis of conflict-riddled states around the world, Chayes provides useful commentary on historical thinkers like Niccolo Machiavelli, Nizam al-Mulk and William of Pagula – all of whom emphasized corruption’s evils and the importance of justice to a kingdom’s integrity. The only questionable aspect of Chayes’s thesis is its global scope: Religious fervor spans human history; it wasn’t created by corrupt modern governments. Nonetheless, her exploration of kleptocracy in Afghanistan, Egypt, Tunisia and beyond is convincing and engaging. getAbstract recommends this book to international policy enthusiasts concerned with the global impact of corruption.

In this book, you will learn

  • How government corruption causes violent extremism;
  • Why religious fanaticism offers an alternative to corrupt governments; and
  • How corrupt systems function as integrated networks.

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