THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
William R. Brownfield, a Senior Foreign Service officer
with the rank of Career Ambassador, has served as
assistant secretary of State for international narcotics
and law enforcement affairs (INL) since 2011. In that
position, he is responsible for State Department programs combat-
ing illicit drugs and organized crime, as well as those supporting law
enforcement and promoting the rule of law. INL currently man-
ages a portfolio of more than $4 billion in more than 80 countries,
administered by 5,000 employees and contractors. Prior to assuming
his current position, Ambassador Brownfield served as ambassador
to Chile (2002-2004), Venezuela (2004-2007) and Colombia (2007 to
2010), among many other Foreign Service assignments.
s head of the State Department’s
Bureau for International Narcot-
ics and Law Enforcement Affairs
for more than five years, I’ve had a
front-row seat as anti-corruption
has gained prominence as a U.S.
foreign policy priority. To be clear,
corruption is a crime just like any
other, and it can be just as corro-
sive to communities.
Corruption is not new, but what does seem to be emerg-
ing now is the growing recognition that it imperils so much of
what the United States is trying to accomplish worldwide: good
State is taking on corruption with a top-down and bottom-up approach.
BY WI L L I AM R . BROWNF I E LD
governance, economic growth and national security.
All indications are that this trajectory—increased attention
and action to mitigate corruption—will continue. This past
January, at the World Economic Forum, Secretary of State John
F. Kerry laid down a marker by asking that our global partners
make anti-corruption a national security priority.
There is no sugarcoating the challenge before us—corrup-
tion is widespread, influencing quiet, day-to-day interactions,
as well as high-level transactions and processes. And it is
notoriously difficult to root out. Any effective campaign against
corruption must be conducted not only from the top down,
but also from the bottom up—not necessarily a natural modus
operandi for the State Department.
Leading by Example
The Obama administration has made anti-corruption a key
element of its democracy agenda, and has strengthened gov-
ernmentwide efforts to prevent and combat graft, both domes-
tically and internationally. Toward that end, we have amassed
an array of tools and international relationships which are
effective in advancing accountability and the rule of law. INL,
alongside other State bureaus, has established strong working
relationships with the departments of Treasury and Justice,
the U.S. Agency for International Development, various United
Nations bodies and numerous nongovernmental organizations
(NGOs) all over the world to attempt to conduct this effort in a
ON CORRUPTION AND FOREIGN POLICY
A U.S. Policy Priority: