Casey Michel 🇰🇿 Profile picture
Writing AMERICAN KLEPTOCRACY (Nov. 2021, pre-order here: https://t.co/E71YqtFKTY) | @KleptocracyIntv, @CFCS_RUSI TARIF, @HarrimanInst, @PeaceCorps Kazakhstan
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11 Oct
'On November 19, 1493, during his second voyage, Christopher Columbus arrived in Puerto Rico. The indigenous Taíno culture dominated the island... By 1520 the Taíno presence had almost vanished.' gsp.yale.edu/case-studies/c…
Lotta folks for some reason think Columbus never landed in what would become the US, ie:
Columbus also reached the US Virgin Islands, leading to ‘the first armed clash between Europeans and American natives.’ nps.gov/nr/travel/prvi…
Read 5 tweets
11 Oct
The 1680 Pueblo Revolt should absolutely be more widely remembered in the US—greatest anti-colonial victory on the eventual territory of the US until the American Revolution:
Bit on how the Lakota in particular quashed French dreams of continent-wide empire in North America:
Read 6 tweets
10 Oct
'Baker McKenzie has worked for a range of clients in other capacities that are not required to be disclosed in lobbying or FARA disclosures.

'Those clients include Ukrainian oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky and fugitive Malaysian financier Jho Low' opensecrets.org/news/2021/10/p…
"Baker McKenzie is an architect and pillar of a shadow economy, often called ‘offshore,’ that benefits the wealthy at the expense of nations’ treasuries and ordinary citizens’ wallets." abajournal.com/news/article/p…
Baker McKenzie 'did work for sanctioned Russian banks and arms makers, as well as the kingpins behind some of the world’s largest alleged heists' justsecurity.org/78506/closing-…
Read 4 tweets
5 Oct
NEW: The #PandoraPapers taught us plenty—especially about how South Dakota exploded into an offshore haven, and who’s behind some of the anonymous wealth that has flooded the state.

theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/…
(Huge shoutout to @TheAtlantic’s art team—never thought I’d see a day when I could have “scrilla” in a piece on offshoring and dirty money.) Image
South Dakota trusts are the gold standard for anyone looking to hide money—forever. They can:

—List you as both settlor and beneficiary
—Last for centuries (or longer)
—Never reveal who’s behind them to other governments
—Never reveal who’s moving the money Image
Read 4 tweets
3 Oct
‘The US emerges from the leak as a leading tax haven. The files suggest the state of South Dakota, in particular, is sheltering billions of dollars in wealth linked to individuals previously accused of serious financial crimes.’ theguardian.com/news/2021/oct/…
Want to know how the US transformed into the world’s biggest offshore haven? Or why Delaware, South Dakota, and other states became the go-to for anyone looking to hide dirty money?

Pre-order AMERICAN KLEPTOCRACY (out next month!) here: read.macmillan.com/lp/american-kl…

#pandorapapers
‘The #PandoraPapers expose how foreign political and corporate leaders or their relatives moved money and other assets in recent years from international tax havens to even more secretive American trust companies, including those in South Dakota.’ washingtonpost.com/business/2021/…
Read 8 tweets
25 Sep
This is nuts: Here’s former US VP Mike Pence shaking hands with Milorad Dodik, a figure directly sanctioned by the US for his ongoing efforts to break up Bosnia. ht @UrbanAchievr
This is either a monumental blunder by @VP45’s team—or a sign (or confirmation) that the GOP has completely given up on US policy in the Balkans. Either way, an awful, awful look.
Some background on how much Dodik has been trying to grow close to pro-Trump figures in recent years:
Read 7 tweets
25 Sep
Mapping out Confederate imperialism in the American West, with “Confederate Arizona Territory”:
The Confederate conquest of “Arizona Territory” was “the first successful invasion of Union territory in the Civil War.”
Read 6 tweets
22 Sep
NEW: For @TheAtlantic, I looked at how the US art and auction worlds have exploded into havens for dirty money—and why Hunter Biden is the worst thing to happen to the art world in years. theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/…
The U.S. art and auction industries have become key vectors in trans-national money laundering networks—and dodged (most) money laundering regulations.

Instead, we're supposed to just take them at their word that they're on the lookout for dirty money.

theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/…
(One of the most depressing bits of writing this piece: Remembering just how shady Jimmy Carter's family was, and how much they helped despotic regimes during Carter's presidency.)

theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/…
Read 6 tweets
13 Sep
NEW: For a century, Teapot Dome stood as the greatest presidential corruption scandal in American history. No more.

In my first(!) piece with @BulwarkOnline, here’s how the Trump years set a new bar for presidential corruption—and replaced Teapot Dome: thebulwark.com/trump-era-corr…
Trump was the first leader to emerge from a "pro-kleptocracy" industry (luxury real estate)—which shows just how much corruption has changed in the past century.

And now, US presidential corruption is something for all kleptocrats of the world to enjoy.

thebulwark.com/trump-era-corr…
What’s remarkable is that Teapot Dome is *way* worse than you probably remember.

Jailed cabinet members. Senate offices ransacked. Physical threats against families. High-level bribery linked directly to the White House.
Read 5 tweets
6 Sep
NEW: I wrote about one of the greatest traitors the US has ever produced, a man who deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as Benedict Arnold: Robert E. Lee.

newrepublic.com/article/163557…
Robert E. Lee was a quisling who:

—Disavowed his oath of loyalty to the US
—Led a movement that slaughtered hundreds of thousands of US troops
—All so that he could no longer be American
—All so that he and other insurrections could continue/expand enslavement of Black Americans
Robert E. Lee's treason is there for all of us to see.

As Ulysses S. Grant wrote, Lee chose to lead a movement that was “one of the worst [causes] for which a people ever fought, and one for which there was the least excuse.”

And all of it fought to shatter the U.S.
Read 7 tweets
25 Aug
'Ideally, she says, the world would not see the Soviet Union first and foremost as an ideological project that “fell apart” due to economic woe, but also as a colonial empire that many peoples fought to topple' calvertjournal.com/features/show/…
Wanted: Survey of how the Soviet collapse has (slowly, fitfully) been increasingly understood in the West as an outcome of colonization out of Moscow, rather than just economic failures.

(And how this colonial model continues.)
There's still a strange/giant gap in Western discourse on legacies of European colonization, which shunts Central Asia or the Caucasus to the side. Or, hell, places like Chechnya or Tuva.
Read 4 tweets
24 Aug
NEW: America’s sanctions policies are long overdue for a reevaluation. But while some elements should be scrapped, programs targeting kleptocrats and their networks should remain—and be strengthened across the board.

Alongside @apmassaro3: foreignpolicy.com/2021/08/24/bid…
(One fantastic place for the US and allies to start expanding targeted sanctions against specific kleptocrats? Central Asia—including a certain former dictator of Kazakhstan.)

foreignpolicy.com/2021/08/24/bid…
One lesson from the War on Terror that’s been overlooked (or forgotten) is just how effective financial measures were at disabling terror networks—and how those (unsurprisingly) follow similar pathways to the kleptocratic networks now operating.

foreignpolicy.com/2021/08/24/bid…
Read 5 tweets
22 Aug
NEW: For years, the US aided and abetted swelling corruption in Afghanistan, turning a blind eye to the kleptocracy it fostered.

And now we’re watching the results of what happens when you ignore corruption in the name of “security.”

nbcnews.com/think/opinion/…
For a deep dive into how the US fanned the flames of corruption in Afghanistan, tough to beat the 2016 @SIGARHQ report, which got little attention at the time:
There was a ridiculous amount of elite corruption the US helped sweep under the rug in Afghanistan:

“A pattern had been established: High-level Afghan officials who were suspected of corruption often evaded arrest or prosecution.”
Read 12 tweets
16 Aug
One potential silver lining of the U.S. pulling out of Afghanistan: Maybe Washington will finally—finally—be willing to actually go after kleptocrats and regimes in Central Asia, rather than prioritize security relations over absolutely everything.
In five years, a grand total of *two* Central Asian figures have been sanctioned under Global Magnitsky. No one from Turkmenistan. No one from Tajikistan. No one from Kazakhstan.

That's insane!
If the Biden admin wants to prove it's serious about elevating corruption to a core national security threat, it should also absolutely start launching sanctions salvos against leading corrupt regime insiders in the region.

No reason to hold back now.
Read 5 tweets
15 Aug
Sarah Chayes had an entire book years ago on how elite corruption in Afghanistan—and Washington's unwillingness to do anything about it—severely undercut the U.S.'s mission there: nytimes.com/2015/02/22/boo…
Deprioritizing fighting corruption will always, eventually, blow up in our faces.
Read 6 tweets
11 Aug
In Feb. 1794, the French Revolutionary government “became the first in history to abolish slavery.”
Shortly after becoming dictator, Napoleon unleashed a torrent of racist policies, not least reimposing human chattel slavery throughout the French Empire (even while completely failing to reconquer Haiti):
Read 6 tweets
11 Aug
For @TheProspect, I wrote about the legacy of Sen. Carl Levin—a man ahead of his time, who could see how kleptocracy would rise, and who helped pass the most important anti-money laundering legislation the U.S. has ever seen. prospect.org/power/the-inve…
One of the most impressive element of Sen. Levin's career was just how much *foresight* he had.

Few politicians had a better grasp on the rising world of offshoring and financial secrecy—and those links to authoritarianism—than Levin.
And Levin knew what to do about it, and about the Americans helping all this dirty money cross international borders.

There's a reason he was one of the first legislators to push for banning anonymous shell companies—all the way back during the George W. Bush administration.
Read 4 tweets
8 Aug
NEW: My read on what Tucker Carlson’s whitewashing of Viktor Orban portends—and why the future of Trumpism lies in Budapest. nbcnews.com/think/amp/ncna…
The claim that Orban’s Hungary is some bastion of “Western civilization” rests on one thing alone: anti-democratic, ethno-nationalist bigotry—the same building blocks of Trumpism.

nbcnews.com/think/ncna1276… Image
One of the underappreciated elements of Orban’s rule is just how much *corruption* has flourished in Budapest in recent years.

Systemic fraud, elite predation, crony capitalism—the kinds of patterns familiar to autocratic regimes elsewhere. Image
Read 7 tweets
2 Aug
NEW: A series of lawsuits from Russian oligarchs in the UK highlights how easy it is for kleptocratic forces to stifle Western journalists, and anyone trying to shine a light on international money laundering networks. newrepublic.com/article/163131…
The Russian oligarch at the center of the recent efforts to target investigative journalists in the UK, Roman Abramovich, has helped launch what may be the most expensive libel case in British history.

But there's far more at stake than just legal fees.

newrepublic.com/article/163131…
The strategy of post-Soviet oligarchs targeting Western journalists with lawsuits is part of the broader world of "lawfare"—and it's getting worse.

And as @FPCThinkTank found last year, the most popular foreign jurisdiction to target journalists is clear: the UK.
Read 8 tweets
25 Jul
NEW: The Tom Barrack charges show how wildly successful foreign dictatorships were at secretly swaying the Trump administration—and why so many illicit foreign agents targeted the White House. nbcnews.com/think/opinion/…
Just look at what Tom Barrack—Trump’s close friend, advisor, fundraiser—allegedly did secretly on behalf of the UAE dictatorship:

—Change Trump’s speeches
—Lobby for pro-UAE staffing/policy
—Funnel internal White House discussions to the UAE
—Publicly whitewash the UAE regime
One question: What did Tom Barrack get in return for flipping into a secret foreign agent for the UAE, whispering in Trump’s ear?

One potential answer: Look how much money—$1.5 billion—his private equity firm received from UAE (and Saudi) sources.

nbcnews.com/think/ncna1274…
Read 8 tweets
24 Jul
Teddy Roosevelt: First president to host a Black man at the White House, yet someone who thought the 15th Amendment was a “mistake” and that 90% of Jim Crow was justified, with Black Americans “altogether inferior to the whites.”
Still strange the US’s crushing of Filipino independence efforts doesn’t have more resonance in 21st century America—everything from widespread use of water-boarding, to efforts to cover up torture reports by Roosevelt’s administration.
Read 11 tweets