Competition for the coveted Corruption Cup is intense, but Afghanistan is proving itself to be a real competitor.
And what, pray tell, is the Corruption Cup? Mainly a figment of my imagination at this point, but I think it could catch on.
Here’s the thing: every year, Transparency International measures perceived levels of public-sector corruption in various countries and compiles a Corruption Perception Index or CPI. The CPI is a composite index, drawing on different expert and business surveys. Countries that score ten are highly clean; countries that score zero are highly corrupt.
Transparency International has been doing this for a number of years. In 2007 it expanded the CPI to look at 180 countries. In 2008, Denmark, New Zealand and Sweden shared the highest, almost unbearably squeaky clean score at 9.3, followed immediately by Singapore at 9.2.
At the other end of the scale was Somalia at 1.0, slightly trailing Iraq and Myanmar at 1.3 and Haiti at 1.4.
However, these bad boys can’t afford to rest on their laurels or wallow in their troughs, if you will. Afghanistan is a serious contender when it comes to challenging for the Corruption Cup and is steadily gaining ground. In 2007, Afghanistan scored 1.8, and ranked an impressive 172 on the CPI. This year, it scored 1.5 and ranks even lower, a stunning 176 out of 180.
In the race to the bottom, Afghanistan is a force to be reckoned with.
Not for nothing did the Afghan Parliament, last year, expel reform-oriented MP Malalai Joya from Parliament for three years. She got their dander up when she called these warlords and drug lords, well, warlords and drug lords. And the Taliban, the government and the US are duking it out to see who can kill, imprison or harrass the most journalists. They show great promise, and NATO stands by to help.
Obama has promised more troops for Afghanistan, and Harper is determined to stay the course until 2011 (and longer if we are dumb enough to give him his majority — but I digress).
Can more war help Afghanistan win the Corruption Cup? Probably. Look what it has done for Iraq? And let’s not forget how we helped Haiti achieve its score when we helped the Americans turf Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the first honest leader Haiti had for decades.