Corruption has a number of subtle impacts on the way the US is perceived in the outside world. It also has a major negative impact on the efficiency of our military (both in procurement and in what the military actually does). But one of the biggest potential negative impacts of corruption on our international relations is protectionism. The first response of many vested interests to competition from outside our borders is to convince the government to either burden their competitors or give them a competitive edge via subsidies. Either path leads to friction, and frequently retaliation by the nations whose industries have been targeted. Fortunately, there has also been a general trend by industries that depend on foreign trade to oppose protectionism and push for free trade, so this isn’t as big a problem as it might have been.
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