Kleptocracies seem to enjoy powerful coherence between their domestic and foreign policies, given that they wield power at home and abroad through the same corrupt assemblage of actors, networks, tactics, and resources. By prioritizing the fight against corruption and kleptocracy, the United States can similarly pursue the most internally coherent grand strategy since it combined the containment of communism with neoliberal deregulation to win the Cold War. Doing so will require deeply reorienting foreign and domestic policy priorities by featuring the opposite side of the U.S. economic model, with less cowboy and more sheriff: well-regulated clean capitalism under the rule of law.
The Biden administration is spearheading the most serious effort in recent memory to organize the United States around fighting corruption. Sustaining that momentum beyond Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and through the second Summit for Democracy in December 2022 will require making permanent new task forces and other responses, broadly scoping financial rules around real estate and investment advisors, increasing the emphasis on domestic ethics reform, launching defamation defense and rapid response funds, developing a strategy to enda offshore financial secrecy, working with Congress on the most ambitious program of anti-corruption legislation since Watergate, and cooperating with other major democracies to crack down on professional enablers of corruption.