Members and guests of the World Affairs Forum gathered at the Stamford Yacht Club to talk Kleptocracy with former NPR reporter Sarah Chayes. As a senior associate in the South Asia Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Chayes is an expert in kleptocracy, anti corruption and civil-military relations.
Kleptocracy is a form of political corruption where the government tries to increase personal wealth and political power at the expense of the wider population, which often is achieved by the embezzlement of state funds.
"I think training is a really critical issue," said Chayes. "That there's not sufficient focus on how do you train a professional diplomat who's not a kind of dinner party note-taker but actually is a kind of expeditionary person."
She was also a former special adviser to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and a former reporter. After covering the fall of the Taliban, she later moved to Kandahar, Afghanistan in 2001 to launch a manufacturing cooperation to revive the region's agriculture.
"She's extremely intelligent and very experienced and a very straight-forward person," said World Affairs Forum Bill Ferdinand.
Chayes says every situation needs to be examined in its own context. She tells us the U.S. is addressing the Syria issue traumatized by past experiences in war and and does not view Syrian situation as a civil war.
"This is the case where a government that owned all of the means of force," said Chayes. "All of the levers belonged to the government, deployed every single one of those levers including chemical weapons against a defenseless population."
"The Syrian situation boils down to what extent the global community can stand behind the enforcement of rules as it relates to weapons of mass destruction," said Ferdinand.
Chayes say she sees some hope for a nonviolent response.
"What I think is really interesting about this is that Russia may have painted itself into a little bit of a corner here because they may have been hoping that this is just a delaying tactic and would just defuse the momentum, but if you have countries like France and Britain and a couple others in the United Nations Security Council demanding a real resolution that has teeth in it, Russia may be in a position where it can't get back out of the corner that its painted itself into, so you suddenly do have an arena for concerted, international, non-violent action that could really be a game changer, so I see some hope."