We will consider the huge challenge of corruption and the extent to which widespread and pervasive public breach of trust internationally can undermine our most important national interests. Our witness today will point out that corruption goes far beyond the loss of foreign aid dollars and foreign corrupt practices such as bribery and places our businesses at a competitive disadvantage. Public corruption can undermine our most important interests in security and stability. Our witnesses today will argue there is a direct connection between the abuse of authority and the breakdown in governance. In some cases, widespread abuses can stoke the fires of populism against corrupt governments, increasing the chances of instability or even violence. In the most extreme cases, we risk seeing important countries fall prey to predatory officials determined to enrich themselves at the cost of their citizens' welfare. Such states, when coupled a government monopoly on power, can present extraordinary national security risk to the United States. If we want to fight corruption effectively and institute norms of government accountability, we have to develop smart strategies that allow us to target efforts at multiple levels of government and the population at large. We must be firm but fair, recognizing that cultivating a culture of public integrity may, in many countries, take a very, very long time. The challenge for us is to help governments make progress on reducing corruption while still continuing to work with them on a range of issues important to us.
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