THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
Foreign Service Officer George Kent served as the
Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs’ first senior
anti-corruption coordinator from 2014 to 2015, and
previously directed Europe-Asia programming for the
Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs.
This spring he began a tour as deputy chief of mission in Kyiv.
hen FSO Victoria Nuland
became assistant secretary
for European and Eur-
asian affairs in late 2013,
she set out her strategic
priorities for U.S. relations
with Europe in an Atlantic
Council speech titled“Toward a Trans-Atlantic Renaissance.” To the surprise of some, Assistant Secretary
Nuland added countering corruption to the more traditional
issues on our core Europe policy agenda, such as promoting
trans-Atlantic trade, European energy security and refreshed
trans-Atlantic security ties.
For more than two years, the EUR Bureau has treated coun-
tering corruption as a strategic priority with regional stability
Here are one
specific plans and
BY GEORGE KENT
implications. Corruption not only limits prosperity and weakens
effective democratic governance, but also acts as a wormhole
for malevolent outside influences, subverting sovereignty and
regional stability. These actors can be nation-state actors, such
as Vladimir Putin’s Russian Federation, or transnational organi-
zations, like organized crime or terror networks.
The multivector democratic, economic and geopolitical
implications of corruption played out most clearly in Ukraine,
where popular outrage against the excesses of a kleptocratic
regime sparked the Revolution of Dignity (also known as the
Euromaidan Revolution), which took place there between
November 2013 and February 2014.
The bureau’s next challenge was putting the new strategic
priority into action. After the fall of the Berlin Wall and the col-
lapse of the Soviet Union, EUR had pioneered a cross-cutting
approach of matching foreign assistance to country-specific
priorities, both through the Office of the Coordinator of U.S.
Assistance to Europe, Eurasia and Central Asia (ACE) and
intensive engagement with posts. However, the new counter-
corruption priority did not fit neatly into the previous paradigm,
for two reasons. First, many of the countries for which counter-
ing corruption is a priority graduated from foreign assistance a
decade ago. Second, much of what is needed falls in the realm
ON CORRUPTION AND FOREIGN POLICY