FBI personnel collecting evidence in the ongoing investigations
into corruption at Fifa this month in Miami (image AFP).
Today’s visual dose is an image of US power, which tends
to be obscured at times by American military, economic and cultural might.
It is the extraterritoriality of US law, an impressive vector
of structural power and influence.
If you are the Russian President or the Qatari foreign minister,
there can be no doubt that ongoing investigations into the
shenanigans of the not so “beautiful game” are nothing but
politically motivated – an American way of wanting to punish
Russia and Qatar for their respective involvement in the wars of
Ukraine and Syria. Others notice the potential use of American
justice as part and parcel of economic warfare – An example would be
charges leveled against General Electric targeting firms for
take-over weakened by US judicial proceedings.
All that might or might not be true (after all, the American
justice system enjoys independence from other branches of
government), fact is that American structural power to impose
compliance with American legislation, be it criminal, competition or
sanctions law is enormous. It also is a significant vector of
influence, as countries and firms around the world do not want to
leave the shadow of a (compliance) doubt, for fear of ending up in
the cross-hair of American prosecutors. These fears provide bread and
butter to an army of lawyers, private investigators and former
intelligence officers offering all kinds of special services in the
world of “compliance”.
America is not an isolated case – Other common law jurisdictions,
such as the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand also
apply their criminal law extra-territorially. In contrast to those
countries, the US holds several trump cards: It has the financial
means and above all, the expertise to pursue often complex white
colour crime. It is an attractive market and a hub for the world
in terms of banking, finance, as well as travel, which makes
subjection to American law all the more likely.
All this contributes to making the United States, in theory and in practice, the
policeman of the world.