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Spoils of Truce: Corruption and State-Building in Postwar Lebanon, Reinoud Leenders

Reviewed by Julia Choucair-Vizoso



Why is high‐level corruption rampant in Lebanon? Why has senior public office been routinely and brazenly used for private benefit since the 1989 postwar settlement? Reinoud Leenders goes inside Lebanon’s public institutions in search of the answers. Through rich descriptions of select postwar institutions, Spoils of Truce advances our knowledge of corruption beyond existing aggre­gate survey indicators and anecdotal evidence. The result is a more‐complete understanding not just of the magnitude and dynamics of corruption, but also of how crucial institutions evolved between 1989 and 2005.

Lebanon’s postwar institutions—including healthcare, reconstruction, oil and gas, waste management, city planning, and environmental protection— emerge from this book as sites of perpetual administrative ambiguity. They lack defined mandates and regulatory arrangements, external oversight, and a strict separation between public and private interests. For Leenders, high‐level political corruption is a direct result of these deviations from Max Weber’s ideal type of “bureaucratic organization.” Administrative ambiguity breeds countless opportunities for vast amounts of public resources to directly disap­pear into the pockets of high officials and politicians.

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