Europe and the United States: Reaffirming Transatlantic Solidarity

Image: Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Lithuania

On 10 March, 2017, a U.S. delegation met with Linas Linkevičius, Lithuania’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, to discuss “Europe and the United States: Reaffirming Transatlantic Solidarity” in a session co-organized by the Seimas (Parliament) of Lithuania and the Parliamentary Democracy Forum.

Charles Davidson, Executive Director of Hudson Institute’s Kleptocracy Initiative, made the following remarks:

In reaffirming transatlantic solidarity, we must confront together the growth of autocracy.

In the current geopolitical environment, when we talk about the threat of autocracy, we are de facto talking about kleptocracy, a form of government where an autocratic “elite” loots its own country, entrusts the loot to the rule of law and property rights that exist in Western democracies, and then proceeds to use this loot to maintain and enhance its power.

All of the autocratic governments encroaching on us are kleptocracies of one sort or another.

As they currently exist, these kleptocratic systems or “looting machines” are enabled and sustained by us.  Where do the kleptocrats keep their money?  We all know the answer to that — in Western financial markets, in Western real estate, in assets for which we provide and protect property rights.  They sue each other in our courts at our expense.

Kleptocracy is one of the cancers fueling our political disorder. Our complicity in the systemization of kleptocracy has degraded norms in our business practices, and undermined and Schroederized our political system. Huge pools of corrupt money corrupt us.

We face two related challenges: Containing the export of kleptocracy, and drastically curtailing our facilitation of kleptocracy.

So in defending democracy in the West, a priority should be to mount a vigorous counter-attack against the autocratic-kleptocratic political threat which is undermining our democratic institutions and our democratic culture.  We can do this by attacking the Achilles Heel of the current autocratic model:  They have entrusted their money to us. Let’s show that to have been a mistake.