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A penetrating look into the unrecognized and unregulated links between autocratic regimes in Central Asia and centers of power and wealth throughout the West Weak, corrupt, and politically unstable, the former Soviet republics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan are dismissed as isolated and irrelevant to the outside world. But are they? This hard-hitting A penetrating look into the unrecognized and unregulated links between autocratic regimes in Central Asia and centers of power and wealth throughout the West Weak, corrupt, and politically unstable, the former Soviet republics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan are dismissed as isolated and irrelevant to the outside world. But are they? This hard-hitting book argues that Central Asia is in reality a globalization leader with extensive involvement in economics, politics and security dynamics beyond its borders. Yet Central Asia’s international activities are mostly hidden from view, with disturbing implications for world security.   Based on years of research and involvement in the region, Alexander Cooley and John Heathershaw reveal how business networks, elite bank accounts, overseas courts, third-party brokers, and Western lawyers connect Central Asia’s supposedly isolated leaders with global power centers. The authors also uncover widespread Western participation in money laundering, bribery, foreign lobbying by autocratic governments, and the exploiting of legal loopholes within Central Asia. Riveting and important, this book exposes the global connections of a troubled region that must no longer be ignored.


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A penetrating look into the unrecognized and unregulated links between autocratic regimes in Central Asia and centers of power and wealth throughout the West Weak, corrupt, and politically unstable, the former Soviet republics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan are dismissed as isolated and irrelevant to the outside world. But are they? This hard-hitting A penetrating look into the unrecognized and unregulated links between autocratic regimes in Central Asia and centers of power and wealth throughout the West Weak, corrupt, and politically unstable, the former Soviet republics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan are dismissed as isolated and irrelevant to the outside world. But are they? This hard-hitting book argues that Central Asia is in reality a globalization leader with extensive involvement in economics, politics and security dynamics beyond its borders. Yet Central Asia’s international activities are mostly hidden from view, with disturbing implications for world security.   Based on years of research and involvement in the region, Alexander Cooley and John Heathershaw reveal how business networks, elite bank accounts, overseas courts, third-party brokers, and Western lawyers connect Central Asia’s supposedly isolated leaders with global power centers. The authors also uncover widespread Western participation in money laundering, bribery, foreign lobbying by autocratic governments, and the exploiting of legal loopholes within Central Asia. Riveting and important, this book exposes the global connections of a troubled region that must no longer be ignored.

30 review for Dictators Without Borders: Power and Money in Central Asia

  1. 4 out of 5

    Robin Case

    Scary account of graft, greed, corruption and the pursuit of power in the middle Asian countries in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. This book is for those without fear of tongue twisting names. This is a well written treatise on politics and finance in the world today. The principles apply globally. This book explains about why institutions in the USA including what should be beneficial organizations like Universities and Nonprofits (Clinton Global Initiative comes to my mind) Scary account of graft, greed, corruption and the pursuit of power in the middle Asian countries in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. This book is for those without fear of tongue twisting names. This is a well written treatise on politics and finance in the world today. The principles apply globally. This book explains about why institutions in the USA including what should be beneficial organizations like Universities and Nonprofits (Clinton Global Initiative comes to my mind) benefit from maintaining corrupt repressive regimes abroad. Deeply troubling. I also better understand now why the Bernie Sanders supporters may be justified in their deep mistrust of the big banks which grease the flow of money out of repressed nations to fuel real estate booms in more developed nations.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Faye Glidden

    Intense & Relevant

  3. 5 out of 5

    Caroline Petruzzi McHale

    Covers many of the Central Asian kleptocracies in breathtaking detail. Will file this in the "speak truth to power" category right next to Tom Burgis' Looting Machine. Covers many of the Central Asian kleptocracies in breathtaking detail. Will file this in the "speak truth to power" category right next to Tom Burgis' Looting Machine.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Ellie

    As a former corporate investigator and with expertise in Central Asia and the wider CIS, this book was fascinating in addressing corruption and kleptocracy in the Central Asian states. Having faced numerous “black Pr campaigns” in my work, unlike other reviewers, I think that the book is aided by its close attention to evidence and heavy referencing. The financial schemes detailed are laid out with extraordinary precision, and can be returned to as a reference point. The chapters on Kazakhstan a As a former corporate investigator and with expertise in Central Asia and the wider CIS, this book was fascinating in addressing corruption and kleptocracy in the Central Asian states. Having faced numerous “black Pr campaigns” in my work, unlike other reviewers, I think that the book is aided by its close attention to evidence and heavy referencing. The financial schemes detailed are laid out with extraordinary precision, and can be returned to as a reference point. The chapters on Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan are particularly strong; they achieve the task of putting the respective corruption schemes in the context of movements in internal politics and give good insights into the nature of the states. In Tajikistan, I would say there is too much attention on the precise intricacies of the schemes involving TAL to give a good, rounded overview of the issue at hand or workings of Tajikistan’s elite (when referring back to ch3 later on when talking of the country’s closed polity, one realises that this was not fully depicted). The book several times tries to address Western institutions and consultancies facilitating this global corruption (which, as addressed in the epilogue, is not unique to CA). There are some riveting stories to be had here- and yet some of these these are told as an afterthought. Rather than focusing on specific offshore accounts, one could look more closely at the hundred million dollar legal fees better by a city law firm defending a central Asian government in an arbitration, the lobbying campaign on behalf of a presidential family member or the total funds to UK plc generated by servicing Central Asia etc. It could give a more rounded view of the globalisation of the propping up of the region’s elite- and also give a more nuanced conclusion to the “anti-corruption initiatives and laws should be properly enforced”, in looking at why, perhaps, they are not. (In this vein- It would be interesting to see an update In the wake of the UK government’s “success” on the enforcement of the first “undisclosed wealth Order”- arguably the people that the NCA is targeting are those already out of favour in their home country- therefore the political capital lost is minimal..) Overall, this is a really good read and a very rare book looking exclusively at a difficult and complex collection of countries. This is true particularly for those with a preexistent knowledge of the region. There is a huge amount of highly researched material- some of the most complex regional stories are told from start to finish in concise and informative fashion, with commendable attention to fact and details

  5. 4 out of 5

    Ailith Twinning

    Compare it to say, "Why Nations Fail" by Daron Acemoğlu and it's fucking phenominal. Compare it to, off the top of my head, "American Exceptionalism and American Innocence" by Sirvent and Haiphong, and it fairs less well. Tho, I do respect the urge not to go beyond one's facts -- this does not mean restricting the scope of those facts. The book needed to be at least twice as long, because the one side of the story it tells just doesn't work without the other half. You could frankly translate my Compare it to say, "Why Nations Fail" by Daron Acemoğlu and it's fucking phenominal. Compare it to, off the top of my head, "American Exceptionalism and American Innocence" by Sirvent and Haiphong, and it fairs less well. Tho, I do respect the urge not to go beyond one's facts -- this does not mean restricting the scope of those facts. The book needed to be at least twice as long, because the one side of the story it tells just doesn't work without the other half. You could frankly translate my complaint to "You can't write this book without being overtly anti-American/Imperial, and you should be!". That'd be the least charitable interpretation, but it's not actually wrong.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Diana Ghigufa

    Very dense, but incredibly interesting. To see the extent to which the world is globalised even in those landlocked regions of the world that we consider far and isolated - they are far more interlinked and implicated in global financial trends that we'd like to imagine, and more. The complicity of western countries and institutions in these endeavour is clear and condemnable, starting from the Italian DIGOS allowing, unsurprisingly, to let Berlusconi do a friend a favour. Very dense, but incredibly interesting. To see the extent to which the world is globalised even in those landlocked regions of the world that we consider far and isolated - they are far more interlinked and implicated in global financial trends that we'd like to imagine, and more. The complicity of western countries and institutions in these endeavour is clear and condemnable, starting from the Italian DIGOS allowing, unsurprisingly, to let Berlusconi do a friend a favour.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Keith Turek

    Listened to this as an audiobook. Good and worthwhile material but found it more academic than I would have liked; would have preferred something more journalistic. Not recommended in audiobook format because authors would be Olympic champions of a run-on sentence competition. Semi-pointless policy prescriptions at the end betray academic orientation and seem to me to somewhat miss the bullseye of the truly deep structure of global corruption.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    I was looking forward to this. The first chapters lay out the author's explanation of how Central Asian leaders operate - it is quite interesting, but I had had enough of the topic, which is hardly uplifting (since western governments and banks etc are part of how it continues) and returned it to the public library rather than read the more detailed chapters describing examples in Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and so on. I was looking forward to this. The first chapters lay out the author's explanation of how Central Asian leaders operate - it is quite interesting, but I had had enough of the topic, which is hardly uplifting (since western governments and banks etc are part of how it continues) and returned it to the public library rather than read the more detailed chapters describing examples in Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and so on.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Kevin Y

    Interesting topic about a region that gets very little attention. For folks who know more about the region this book may seem lite on new material; however, as someone with little knowledge about Central Asian politics and economic linkages with the world, this is a good book as introduction. To give the professor and author credit, the topic of choice: hidden globalization through autocratic ranks is eye opening.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jiliac

    Only read half the book. The book at what it is: the study of the corruption of the dictators of central Asia and the networks to channel these funds to "the West". It's not what I came for (geopolitics) but that's my fault. Only read half the book. The book at what it is: the study of the corruption of the dictators of central Asia and the networks to channel these funds to "the West". It's not what I came for (geopolitics) but that's my fault.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Paul moved to LibraryThing

    Dreadfully boring an depressing topic. Authors achieve a miracle by keeping me reading. Incredibly restrained - if I cared about any of this my blood would boil every other sentence and I wouldn't be able to finish a paragraph. Dreadfully boring an depressing topic. Authors achieve a miracle by keeping me reading. Incredibly restrained - if I cared about any of this my blood would boil every other sentence and I wouldn't be able to finish a paragraph.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jyoti

    Interesting book on autocrats in Central Asia and examples of those who have committed financial crimes to benefit only themselves. The last two chapters felt a little long.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jacktastic

    Incredibly informative and important book about how global authoritarianism works today and the threat it poses.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Nirmal Ghimire

    Interesting read!!! Dictators are ofter evils!!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jagoda

    Well researched, written in a clear and comprehensible way. It is unbelievable that such things - as described in the book- happen today and are given consent or even support from Western countries.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Huzaifa Baloch

    Some good insights into the Corruption, Nepotism and Central Asian autocratic Regimes.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Alastair Heffernan

    An entrancing delve into the world of international corruption and how it is facilitated by supposedly robust and accountable bodies in the West. Each chapter presents a different instance of corruption from several Central Asian states, and explains how each scheme operates, who it benefits and how it damages the ordinary people of the region while enriching a narrow elite. Unlike Cooley's previous book (Great Games, Local Rules), this one does not delve so much into geopolitical theory and abst An entrancing delve into the world of international corruption and how it is facilitated by supposedly robust and accountable bodies in the West. Each chapter presents a different instance of corruption from several Central Asian states, and explains how each scheme operates, who it benefits and how it damages the ordinary people of the region while enriching a narrow elite. Unlike Cooley's previous book (Great Games, Local Rules), this one does not delve so much into geopolitical theory and abstraction - or rely as heavily on prior knowledge of the region - making it a much more enjoyable read and a welcome introduction (for me at any rate) into the kinds of hidden, white-collar crime on an international scale that are seldom discussed in Western media. A particular feature of the book I valued was its focus on just a handful of cases of corruption in the region, rather than trying to systematise and analyse all corruption (something the lack of evidence and difficulty in analysing these countries would perhaps preclude anyway). The handful of cases are discussed with just the right level of legal and financial detail to introduce the reader to how the particular schemes or frauds operate. For example, one chapter describes in detail the arrangement of offshore shell companies and their complex contractual obligations that ultimately benefit the country's elite; while technical in nature I found that I never lost the thread of the argument - a testament to how well the author renders technical subject matter into simple language. Indeed, by constructing the book around detailed case studies, each chapter offers plenty of time for readers to get familiar with the ways in which global financial networks facilitate elite predation and state capture in these supposedly "isolated" countries. Perhaps the only negative worthy of note is the authors' clear ax to grind regarding the notion that these countries are isolated, which presumably relates to what less Central-Asia-devoted analysts say regarding the region. This authorial bugbear starts to grate after a while (principally because I didn't go into this book thinking the region was not worthy of analysis or was an isolated block), but it doesn't significantly detract from what is otherwise a mesmerising (if depressing) exposé of transnational corruption and the Western tools that facilitate it.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Emily

  19. 4 out of 5

    Josh

  20. 4 out of 5

    Thomas Hollis

  21. 4 out of 5

    Millie Radovic

  22. 4 out of 5

    Ilze Bergmane

  23. 4 out of 5

    Ana-Maria

  24. 4 out of 5

    Michel Schinz

  25. 4 out of 5

    Rose

  26. 4 out of 5

    Anirudh Chaudhary

  27. 4 out of 5

    Ryan

  28. 5 out of 5

    Turhan Dilmaç

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jontekotte

  30. 4 out of 5

    Tudor

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