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Corruption, put simply, is the abuse of public office for personal gain. As leaders increasingly recognize, it is a menace to development, human dignity and global security. At the anti-corruption summit in London on May 12, world leaders – together with representatives from business and civil society – will have a critical opportunity to act on this recognition.Corruption is decried across cultures and throughout history. Corruption also has another, less-recognized impact.In a world of competing demands, corrupt governments may seem to serve vital purposes.To determine the best approach in each specific case, governments must analyze the problem more effectively, which means improving the collection of intelligence and data. As security expert Sarah Chayes argues in Against Corruption, the volume of essays that the British government will publish to accompany the summit, corruption today is structured practice. The departments that we spent our careers serving – the U.S. State Department and the U.S. Department of Defense – set great store by building relationships. Diplomats depend on these relationships to advance their national interests, and professional ties between military officers are sometimes the only channels that weather political storms. To address many of the crises currently besetting the world, a strong focus on combating corruption is vital.
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