December 6, 2023

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Oil: from Pythia to Menendez

Oil: from Pythia to Menendez

“Just as it is difficult to know whether or not a fish is drinking water when it swims in the sea, it is also difficult to know whether a government official is being funded or not.” This passage, which is one of the oldest references to corruption in history, is taken from the famous Indian treatise “Arthasastra” attributed to the economist and royal advisor, Chanakya.

In approximately the same period, Aristotle, Commenting on the issue of the financing of the Pythia by the Alcmaeonides, he sarcastically noted that if you were oiled even by the oracle of Delphi, you could bribe even the gods. The main difference between the Indian philosopher and the Greek philosopher is that the former considered financialization not only acceptable but also necessary, while the latter continued to criticize the phenomenon, even if he found it widespread.

The famous case of the US Senator Bob Menendez However, he has come to remind many that Tsanakia may have been able to predict the future of political finance better than Aristotle. Because in Washington’s sea of ​​corruption, it’s hard to blame one fish for doing what all the other fish do.

According to legal circles, the patience with which Menendez faces the most serious indictment is due to the Supreme Court’s historic decision nearly a decade ago to acquit the Republican senator from Virginia. bob McDonnell, who faced equally serious charges.

In order to overturn the original conviction, the Supreme Court changed its objectives by reviewing the concept of bribery itself. As he noted in his decision, arranging a meeting, summoning another official, or organizing an event (to further the goals of the person who bribed you) is not an “official act.” Relying on this 2016 decision, several lawyers have succeeded in exonerating high-ranking officials for whom there was compelling evidence of financing.

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In this sea of ​​corruption, Menendez’s real enemy is not justice but the political situation. The fact that his case coincides with the corruption allegations against Donald Trump means that Democrats will have to “sacrifice” him. Otherwise, they will be accused of going after the former president, who faces a lesser charge than Menendez.

Of course, this is not Aristotle’s sense of justice, but Chanakya’s Machiavellian logic. Due to the institutionalization of a labyrinthine network of legal lobbyists that use all legal and illegal means to achieve their goals, America seems to have lost the ability to understand the concept of bribery, even when it is right in front of its eyes.

But this carnage also consumes ethnic groups from other countries who live in the United States and try to influence politicians to either advance their countries’ interests or their own personal business interests. Cuban exiles, Greek expatriates, members of the Armenian community and the Israeli lobby are always quick to support Menendez before the indictment is well and truly written.

The list of people they paid is worth a read Court costs ($4.5 million) About Menendez’s previous legal adventure involved dozens of businessmen (mostly from the construction sector), some of whom were convicted in financial scandals.

Among others we find four high-ranking officials of the Israeli lobby AIPAC, the blessed casino baron sheldon Adelson, the family Kushner (Trump’s son-in-law), whose members were convicted of illegal financing of politicians in the pre-election period, etc. In the top ten we also meet the Greek expatriate Nikos Moyaris, Who offered $65,500, followed suit Panagiotis Papanikolaou In the amount of $40,000 (the latter had been arrested a few years earlier on charges of bribing the director of the New York City Department of Buildings).

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Clearly, paying a politician’s legal fees – even if he is facing the biggest corruption indictment in decades – is in no way illegal. It is also not illegal to finance his election campaigns with hundreds of thousands of euros. But perhaps the image of an inflexible politician who wakes up one morning to support the national interests of a country on the other side of the earth is a bit dull.