With a little courage and imagination, Western policymakers could dry up the illicit funds that keep autocratic leaders in power and drive real, “home-grown” democratic reforms in authoritarian countries around the world. To do so would, in fact, bolster democracy at home as well, says AEI’s Clay Fuller:
To understand how, start by reading the latest edition of the [National Endowment for Democray’s ] Journal of Democracy on the “Rise of Kleptocracy.” Steal, obscure, and spend (mostly in Western countries) is the modus operandi of authoritarian kleptocrats. These enemies of democracy launder stolen cash and their reputations using new media and PR experts, and become multinational philanthropists. The only way to address this problem is for policymakers to use the rule of law to disallow illicit finance rather than continuing to enable it. Leaders, both political and otherwise, must encourage people to take pride in free and fair exchange according to true supply and demand — not the greasy opaque push and pull of backdoor political favors and crime.