Which is one reason I also mentioned Tony Blair. (Last I heard, he wasn't a US citizen, though some in England aren't always too sure...)
Yes, the EU is certainly guilty. It's a shame, I had high hopes that the EU - because it is so diverse and so modular - might be more resistant to corruption than other nations and federations. They've had the chance to see what works and what doesn't, and because it formed over time, had the chance to correct problems in the design.
The EU, in my opinion, has blown much of its credibility. The EU's charter, which demands of member countries a high degree of social justice and tolerance, is an impressive document. Perhaps more complex than necessary, but definitely a good step towards responsible and ethical Government.
Unfortunately, a document is just a piece of paper, unless the Governments involved actually believe in it. Laws are like fairies - if you don't believe in them, they die.
The EU is culpable in smuggling operations to Iraq - in the past and in the present - and is undoubtably involved in criminal activities there. That's not unexpected - France sold missile systems and high-tech weaponry to Argentina, shortly before the dictatorship there invaded the Falkland Islands. Greece openly smuggled fuel and weapons to the Serbs during the Yugoslav conflict and Greek patriots attempted to fire home-made missiles on British and American naval vessels. (The Greek authorities, sympathetic to the Serbs, ignored it all.)
Europe also makes explosives popular with terrorists, especially Semtex. This is a plastic explosive that has no odor and is virtually impossible to detect. As such, it is the number 1 favorite weapon in clandestine operations, assassinations and other operations where most conventional devices would be discovered.
The EU is also guilty of largely ignoring the slave trade, which smuggles people from Asian countries and some parts of East Europe. The slaves - often women - are bought from their families or kidnapped. They are then brought into Europe and sold to brothels or rich clients. Britain recently introduced an amnesty program, where slaves who work with officials to close down such operations are entered into a UK witness protection program and given citizenship. To the best of my knowledge, it's the ONLY European country with such a program, or that even admits such a trade exists.
Related to this is a corruption scandal in Belgium, where an investigation into a paedophile ring revealed involvement and collusion by police, judges, politicians and government officials, up to the highest levels. The ring had connections with the slave trade and evidence suggests that children were routinely kidnapped throughout the European, Asian and African continents to order. There has been no media coverage of the international connections ever being caught or identified, and it is doubtful that all the members of the ring inside Belgium have been discovered.
Russia is a more complex issue. The "Russian Mafia" smuggles weapons, people and drugs across the world, so it would be surprising if they were not involved in Iraq, or other International hot-spots, in some way. It is very likely they are involved in the drug trafficking going on, especially in Afghanistan, simply because they have established trading connections.
The Russian Government - that's a tougher call. Putin is a hard one to read. It's interesting that they have a new missile program, given that Russia is bankrupt. Unless they plan on selling missile systems to countries that the West can't be seen dealing with. Then it would make perfect sense. It could be a good money-spinner for them, and there's no doubt they need the cash.
Other than that, Russia really doesn't have much to sell anyone. Businesses in Russia - especially gunsmiths - on the other hand have a lot to sell people. Russian-made weapons are the "must-have" stocking-stuffer for all terrorist organizations, militias and third-world dictatorships, as the weapons are reliable, robust, easy to maintain and easy to obtain. If the Lugar is considered the Rolls Royce of the handgun world, the Uzi and the Kalashnikov would probably be the Volkswagon Beatles.
There are no Governments, anywhere in the world, that are free of the taint of corruption. Some do better than others - New Zealand is probably on firmer ethical ground than, say, Sudan. On the other hand, New Zealand doesn't have the same opportunities for corruption, or the means to get away with it. It's easy to be honest, when your biggest export goes "baaa", not "bang!"
The sheer magnitude of the corruption problem, in industry and in Government, around the world, is so vast that even highly-funded international news organzations can only touch the tip of the iceberg. One post, or even one entire story, on K5 can't do something like this justice.
I've often thought it would be nice if there was a news site, analogous to K5 and Slashdot, that specialized in news gathering and dissemination of stories of this kind. Nice, but extremely dangerous. Were such a site to exist - and be meaningfully successful - virtually everyone with money, power or influence would be out to have those involved in the site nailed to the nearest tree. Investigative journalists stick to "safe" stuff, by and large. Crooked car dealers don't have quite the same punch as international gun-runners.
No such site will ever exist. Or, if it does, it will do what most of these news sites do, which is repeat the stories, rather than use them as a launching pad. (What do you expect? News gathering is too expensive for most amateurs and this particular type of news is way too unsafe.) If you COULD find amateur journalists insane enough to do real news gathering on stories of this kind, those who didn't "vanish", die horribly, get arrested as "spies" or sued into oblivion would get crucified by the "official" media as Conspiracy Theorists. (Of course, it is entirely possible that for some who have been branded Conspiracy Theorists, this has already happened. How would you ever tell the difference between a real crank and a real investigator, when it's so easy for either to be made to look like the other?)
I really don't know how something as ingrained in modern society, throughout the world, can be dealt with. It's a huge problem, and I only know a very few of the stories that the media has bothered to cover of those they know about, which in turn won't be that many in comparison to what's out there. Some sort of wholly independent news source would seem to be important, but as I've already said, I simply don't know how that could be done in any way that is workable.
If anyone has any ideas, feel free to reply.
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