Politics = Corruption

by William Skink

I’m going to start this post with the simple premise that politics = corruption. And because politics touches everything from birth to death to the air we breathe, so does corruption.

There are of course gradations of corruption throughout the various political systems that govern the people on this planet, but one surefire way of gauging the level of corruption is determining how much money is involved. If it’s a lot of money, then there’s sure to be a lot of corruption.

Defenders of corrupt politicians, like Hillary Clinton, will want to see the nitty-gritty quid pro quo before acknowledging this obvious axiom about politics. The most recent analysis, I think, speaks for itself:

Under Clinton’s leadership, the State Department approved $165 billion worth of commercial arms sales to 20 nations whose governments have given money to the Clinton Foundation, according to an IBTimes analysis of State Department and foundation data. That figure — derived from the three full fiscal years of Clinton’s term as Secretary of State (from October 2010 to September 2012) — represented nearly double the value of American arms sales made to the those countries and approved by the State Department during the same period of President George W. Bush’s second term.

The Clinton-led State Department also authorized $151 billion of separate Pentagon-brokered deals for 16 of the countries that donated to the Clinton Foundation, resulting in a 143 percent increase in completed sales to those nations over the same time frame during the Bush administration. These extra sales were part of a broad increase in American military exports that accompanied Obama’s arrival in the White House. The 143 percent increase in U.S. arms sales to Clinton Foundation donors compares to an 80 percent increase in such sales to all countries over the same time period.

I don’t know why I’m still amazed at the capacity of partisans to rationalize away these icky implications, but they do, over and over and over again.

Yesterday I was involved in a Twitter spat with Jay Stevens, one of the founders of this humble blog. He was incredulous that Putin would defend FIFA corruption. But Putin, IMHO, isn’t defending FIFA corruption, he’s just playing geopolitics, same as the US. Anyone who thinks Russia is more corrupt than the US when it comes to getting the World Cup (or the Olympics) to gravy train corporate loot into their respective spheres is delusional.

So what’s the deal with America’s sudden interest in FIFA corruption?

At Moon of Alabama, b opens his post with this:

Today the U.S. ordered Swiss police to raid, incarcerate and extradite to the U.S. six FIFA officials for alleged corruption. The raid, with obviously pre-alarmed New York Times reporters on the scene, comes shortly before a FIFA vote to expel Israel from the association.

This Friday the world football association FIFA is meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, for its 65th regular World Congress. One of the votes on the agenda (pdf) is about the “Suspension or expulsion of a member”. There is also an “Update on Israel-Palestine”.

When dealing with equally corrupt nation-states, especially cold war adversaries, there’s always something else going on than what the surface story describes. I wish more people in this particular nation-state were more discerning.

But we’re not, so any Putin-demonizing angle that can be conjured up will be enthusiastically consumed.

Politics = corruption. Proceed from that premise, and you may start understanding the movements behind the posturing.

  1. JC

    ZeroHedge has a good article about the geopolitics angle of the FIFA squabble:

    According to Putin, the DOJ indictment which led to the arrest of over a dozen individuals on massive corruption charges “is yet another blatant attempt [by the US] to extend its jurisdiction to other states.”

    Putin added that the arrests were a “clear attempt” to prevent the re-election of Sepp Blatter as Fifa president and that the Swiss had Russia’s backing.

    “It looks very strange, the arrests are carried out on the request of the USA side,” he said. “They are accused of corruption – who is? International officials. I suppose that someone broke some rules, I don’t know. But definitely, it’s got nothing to do with the USA. Those officials are not US citizens. If something happened it was not in the US and it’s nothing to do with them.

    “It’s another clear attempt by the USA to spread its jurisdiction to other states. And I have no doubt – it’s a clear attempt not to allow Mr Blatter to be re-elected as president of Fifa, which is a great violation of the operating principles of international organizations. The US prosecutor, as our media report, has already said that those Fifa officials have committed a crime. As if the prosecutor didn’t know about the principle of the presumption of innocence.”

    What is just as ironic is that the one reason the US determined it has jurisdiction over the case is only because FIFA’s corrupt officials had used US banks as intermediaries to funnel and otherwise launder bribes and other flows of funds. The same criminal banks which the Department of Justice busted just a week earlier for rigging the FX market.

    How many people were arrested in the DOJ’s crackdown on criminal US banks? 0.

    How many people are arrested as part of the DOJ’s crackdown on FIFA: 14.

    One can start to sense an agenda in play.

    Quoted by the Guardian, citing the former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden and the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, both of whom have evaded prosecution in the United States by hiding abroad, Putin questioned Washington’s right to request the Fifa officials’ extradition from Switzerland.

    “Unfortunately, our American partners use such methods to achieve their selfish aims and illegally persecute people. I do not rule out that in the case of Fifa, it’s exactly the same,” Putin said.

  2. Turner

    Is it “Putin-demonizing” to point out that his domestic critics keep getting bumped off? I’m glad that you’re at least conceding that Russia is “an equally corrupt nation state.”

    I’m afraid Russophiles posting here won’t like it much.

    • JC

      What about when Obama & Co. “domestic critics” get bumped off?

      * Michael Hastings immediately comes to mind.
      * Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden are notable in that they are still alive, though in exile in one form or another
      * Then there’s Obama’s “Deadpool”.
      * Clinton’s “Bodycount”.

      Sure, you can dismiss the last two as conspiracy sites. But what sets off these sites from those that attempt to pin deaths in Russia on Putin? Why is one a conspiracy and the other “truth”?

      And why the dig on “russophile”? Is it a sin to want to understand the “enemy” of one’s country (not my enemy)? Is it forbidden to try and understand the culture, history and politics of the one nation that poses an equal danger to the survival of life on this planet (i.e. enough nukes to irrevocably alter human existence on earth) as the U.S.?

      * How about the Illuminati Assaniation list?
      Dead scientists
      * 121 suspicious deaths.

      So even if Putin is bumping off his critics, who are we to get our panties all in a twist?

      I’m going to go all religilous here:

      1 Judge not, that ye be not judged.
      2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
      3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
      4 Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?
      5 Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.

      • Turner

        Especially nutty, of the nutty sites you link to, is Obama’s “Deadpool,” which claims Obama’s minions murdered some women who were going to testify that our president was born in Kenya.

        You and Donald Trump will believe anything bad that’s said about Obama (who, incidentally, deserves sane criticism).

        • JC

          I acknowledged that the sites were “conspiratorial” sites. I did that on purpose. Now tell me how the news about Putin’s “domestic critics… getting bumped off” is any less conspiratorial?

          Do you believe in innocence until proved guilty? Or do you just go along with the conspiracies that the U.S. State Department creates and feeds to the MSM as “news?”

          • The standards of evidence here are interesting: Putin need only be accused to be guilty. The media has been busy demonizing him since early 2014. I see it is working. (Jimmy Fallon is a prime mover of the disreputable Putin image.)

            That’s propaganda. That’s how it’s done, how it works.

  3. I am honestly curious, Lizard. If you proceed from the premise that politics = corruption and accept Aristotle’s very astute observation that politics is the necessary condition of social order then it seems clear that you hold to the idea that social order itself is corrupt. Would that be accurate? The implications of that are very clear, that the least corrupt forms of social organization are anarchy, extreme libertarianism or absolute totalitarianism, where corruption becomes a meaningless valuation. (This is the conundrum that tribalists have argued in one form or another since the Enlightenment.)

    Lest you think I’m just deflecting with a silly philosophical exercise, consider this. Your very premise for this post sets up the foundation for the ‘lesser of two evils’ argument that you have harshly derided in the past, and continue to do so here. However, you set a juxtaposition between Clinton and Putin, claiming a disproportionate blindness to corruption on the part of those who can affect one but not the other of these “equally corrupt nation-states”. Simply put, there is no problem with calling out the corruption of one or the other, if there is no choice to be had. (I would point out that according to some, there’s no choice to be had at all, domestic of otherwise, so calling out corruption is a futile exercise in any form.)

    At the end of your post, you don’t state politics = corruption as a premise, but rather as an axiom, that it must be necessarily true. I’m not convinced. I’m curious if you are.

    • Ran it through Google. it came up ???.

    • steve kelly

      As I recall, Aristotle also believed that (lower class) workers, women, slaves were unfit to rule.

      Oligarch comes from the Greek. If the U.S. and Russia are oligarchies, how is Lizard’s “axiom” not true?

      An example of a nation-state today not ruled by oligarchs would be necessary to support your position that state politics is not corrupt. Or perhaps an example of an oligarch that is not corrupt would begin to make a case.

      • It is interesting that you bring that up, Steve. Aristotle’s argument for oligarchy was a condemnation of Athenian style representative democracy, in which the corrupting influence was not wealth but rather ignorance. If that is the case, then Lizard’s axiom (and there seems no reason at all to put it in scare quotes) is true only to the degree that argument accept that representative democracy itself is corrupt. Again, that leads directly and necessarily to the establishment of the ‘lesser of two evils’ stance as not only valid but required for social order.

        Take notice that at no point have I claimed at all that “state politics is not corrupt”. If you can show me doing so, I’d certainly like to see it. “State politics” was your term, not mine or Lizards. I simply voiced my disagreement with the idea that politics, as a necessary condition of social order, equals corruption.

        • You’ve been five-starring your own comments again, haven’t you. This place hasn’t had a star on a comment in weeks, and along comes you and pow! Three, four and five stars!

          Kind of transparent.

        • steve kelly

          An example?

        • An example of what? Politics not being corrupt? Many examples exist among tribal cultures, depending on how you define “corrupt”. An example of oligarchies not being corrupt? Alexander and his designated Hellenic rulers. Other than demanding that I state that American political rulers are corrupt, which I happily will, I’m not certain what example you’re demanding, Steve.

        • Since Mark has decided to go all Ad Hom again and I am not favored at this website to begin with, let me just close my participation with this, Steve. Lizard has put forth that politics is corruption. As was pointed out over 2000 years ago, politics is a necessary condition for humans to live together. The only real question remaining is this: what form of corruption enabling humans to live together and degree of such can you live with?

  4. It is my studied opinion that everything about our democracy is corrupt, and that nothing of public opinion matters. We are herded, not heeded.

    So when Justice Department swoops down and arrests what might indeed be some real conspirators and criminals at FIFA (might not be too), my first reaction should have been to ask “what’s really going on here?” I didn’t. I took it at face value, always a mistake.

    So as it turns out, Justice Department is disciplining FIFA for disciplining Israel for its barbaric behavior against Palestinians. That discipline needs to be done at the state level, and not in sports, but states are either corrupt (US) or intimidated (all except Russia).

    Since Russia is not intimidated by the U.S., it and its leader naturally become targets. Justice would, if it could, arrest or murder Putin for the crime of impudence.

    • Turner

      The FIFA arrests were enabled, apparently, through the use of anti-terrorist legislation. To say the least, this is not what the legislation is supposed to be doing.

      Meanwhile, the DOJ has been unwilling to go after American bankers, who are ten times more corrupt than FIFA ever was.

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