Cocktail Banter, Episode 7: War Crimes Shouldn't Pay

Cocktail Banter connects you with the best of politics and pop culture. It’s the podcast that gives you everything you need to know to be in the know.

This week, we’re talking with J.R. Mailey, a Senior Policy Analyst at the Enough Project and the lead author of a new report about corruption in South Sudan.

The report - War Crimes Shouldn’t Pay - was launched by George Clooney and John Prendergast as part of their new Sentry partnership, an initiative to stop the funding of crimes against humanity.

J.R. shares how South Sudanese leaders are lining their pockets to fund their militias and for their own personal gain, while the people of South Sudan suffer. (15:50) He highlights the underlying problem: corrupt leaders aren't facing consequences for looting state assets and committing mass atrocities. (19:00)   

The Sentry proposes a new approach to fight corruption by targeting the wallets of corrupt leaders with the tools of financial pressure usually used to counter terrorism and nuclear proliferation. (You might recall we talked about following the money trail to track terrorists back in Episode One.) 

War Crimes Shouldn't Pay outlines a path forward to fix a broken system by tackling the problems head-on and using the financial intelligence toolkit to make an impact. (29:00) 

I also talk about my own experiences in South Sudan (14:15), and why I think corruption there should matter to all of us. (1:14) We highlight the problems that can arise when violence is covered as an “ethnic conflict,” sometimes missing systemic problems of governance, and how leaders in a corrupt government might be exploiting ethnic divisions for political gain. (7:00, 16:40, 29:19)

We discuss what it means for an investigation to have the backing of celebrities like George Clooney and Don Cheadle of Not On Our Watch, and how star power can help to move policies forward. (48:26)

You can find the full report and highlights here, as well as more information about how you can get involved in the Sentry’s efforts.