THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
Randy Berry addresses the Pride Reception at U.S.
Consulate General Amsterdam on July 29, 2014.
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
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-nonsenseapproach, has come under scrutiny from diplomats an
others who claim that his
stridency is counterproductive.
These charges were aired in
an investigation by
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.