From Canberra to New York and back again

From Canberra to New York and back again

I last lived in Canberra in 2003, when I served as Principal Legal Officer in the Transnational Crime Unit of the Australian Attorney-General's Department. I was very lucky to work with a host of dedicated and principled career public servants, and to work on some challenging and difficult issues - the response to the Bali bombings, IHL issues around the invasion and occupation of Iraq, and extradition reform amongst them. 

Those experiences in Canberra, especially on the issues around Iraq, helped me understand the nature of governmental power, and the different ways it is exercised by different states. They also persuaded me to move to New York for a while, in part to see American power up even closer, and in part out of a commitment to liberal internationalism and the importance of multilateralism. I did not expect to stay in New York for more than a couple of years. 13 years later, with a couple of work stints in Africa along the way, I am still there...

So it's a delight to be coming back to Canberra to talk about my upcoming book, Hidden Power: The Strategic Logic of Organized CrimeHidden Power is all about how different actors - both state and non-state - cultivate and use governmental power, including, in the case of organized crime, to maximize criminal rents. It includes many true crime stories about the collaboration between American and British government officials and organized crime, and in the Allied military occupation of Sicily (during World War II) there are some staggering resemblances to the way that the US and UK - and Australia - went about the occupation of Iraq, arguably with the same disastrous - and foreseeable - results. 

I am thrilled to be hosted at a book club discussion at ANU between 12 and 2 pm on Thursday 4 August, by Dr Jeremy Farrall. Prof Ramesh Thakur and Prof Roderic Broadhurst will be the discussants. More details here

A Don from Corleone just died - and it may have important implications for Italian politics

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