Yesterday evening, as I was on Pakistani TV’s “The Platform” with former Inter-Services Intelligence chief Gen. Asad Durrani and Colonel Michael Shuhmacher discussing private security contractors in Pakistan, Transparency International announced its new figures on corruption. Pakistan had slid to position 143 from 139 out of 178 countries assessed. It was bad news but not particularly surprising to commentators.
More surprising, to me: the United States dropped from 19 to 22. America is no longer seen as being in the top tier of least-corrupt countries, which includes western Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. Instead it belongs to the second tier, which includes Eastern and Southern Europe. The index has consistently shown the perception of corruption in the United States as steadily rising. My hunch is that this focuses on government contracting, but the notes released by TI point only to “widespread concern over a lack of government oversight.” Still more revealing: Iraq and Afghanistan rank 175th and 176th respectively, putting them among the five most corrupt countries on earth. Is being occupied by the United States or receiving massive U.S. government contracts somehow correlated to corruption?