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JUNE 2016


Randy Berry addresses the Pride Reception at U.S.

Consulate General Amsterdam on July 29, 2014.


those activists.

Sometimes just meeting and talking

with a member of the LGBTI community

can be enough to change hearts and

minds. However, operating as it does

under a “do no harm” policy, the State

Department walks a delicate line between

encouraging and protecting activists in

countries where they may face severe

punishment by the government or the

local community.

In the coming year, one of Berry’s top priorities will be redoubling efforts to

combat violence against LGBTI persons,

particularly transgender individuals.

—Shannon Mizzi, Editorial Assistant

An Existential

Threat: Corruption

in Afghanistan


n a pair of recent talks at the Univer-

sity of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs and at Harvard University, Special Inspecto


General for Afghanistan Reconstruction

(SIGAR) John Sopko spoke bluntly on the

perilous state of reconstruction efforts in

Afghanistan and, in particular, the role of


Recently Sopko, who is well

known for his no-nonsense

approach, has come under scrutiny from diplomats an


others who claim that his

stridency is counterproductive.

These charges were aired in

an investigation by



early May.

The former state and federal

prosecutor with the Depart-

ment of Justice’s Organized

Crime and Racketeering Sec-

tion was appointed by Presi-

dent Barack Obama in 2012.

While at Harvard, Special

Investigator General Sopko

focused on the deteriorat-

ing security conditions in the

country, and in Pittsburgh he

explained how “pervasive cor-

ruption poses a deadly threat to

the entire U.S. effort to rebuild


Initially the U.S. government had little

understanding that corruption could

threaten the effort in Afghanistan and

actually helped to create conditions for

corruption to flourish, injecting vast

sums of money into the country with

pressure to spend but little oversight.

By 2009, the special investigator says,

the government came to realize that

“corruption is not just a problem for the

system of governance in Afghanistan; it


the system of governance.” This conclu-

sion is shared by former International

Security Assistance Force Commander

General John Allen and other military


The problem, then and now, is that

combatting corruption requires the co-

operation of Afghan elites whose power

relies on the very structures anti-corrup-

tion efforts sought to dismantle.

Two large-scale scandals in 2010,

one involving a key aide to then-Afghan

President Hamid Karzai and the other

implicating the brothers of the president

and vice president, showed that corrup-

tion was far more deeply entrenched

than U.S. authorities had understood.

Estimates for total bribes paid by

individual Afghans range from $2 billion

(according to Integrity Watch Afghani-

stan in 2014) to $4 billion (according to

the United Nations Office of Drugs and

Crime in 2012).

Since its establishment in 2008, SIGAR

has made more than 100 arrests and

achieved over 100 convictions or guilty

pleas, including from American military

personnel (both officers and enlisted),

federal civilian employees and contrac-


This election was not without controversy, and I’m so proud that

London has today chosen hope over fear, unity over division. I hope that

we will never be offered such a stark choice again. Fear does not make

us safer; it only makes us weaker, and the politics of fear is simply

not welcome in our city.

—Sadiq Khan, London’s first Muslimmayor, in his acceptance speech on May 6.

Contemporary Quote