View Full Version : The Sad State of the World

05-31-2006, 07:34 AM
From Wretchard at The Belmont Club blog - The Sad State of the World (http://fallbackbelmont.blogspot.com/2006/05/sad-state-of-world.html)...

Iraq, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, East Timor. Four states currently in the headlines the most worrying thing about which -- apart from that each has a Western presence which may continue for years -- is that they may be joined by other countries jolted into collapse by any unpredictable crisis. A huge natural disaster, epidemic or internal conflict could precipitate many of the countries referred to as "failed states" into complete collapse. For two successive years (2005, 2006) Foreign Policy has listed the 'most failed' states based on twelve indicators which attempt to measure the degree to which each has broken down. The 28 worst states in the 2006 list is shown below...

Leo Tolstoy wrote that "all happy families resemble one another, but each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." The Foreign Policy list of 'most failed' states for 2006 (hardly changed for 2005) suggests that Tolstoy's observation applies to countries as well. North America, Western Europe and Japan are functionally similar but each failing state fails in its own way. Some failing states, like Haiti, have no natural wealth, while Iraq and the Congo sit on a fortune in mineral riches. Many are technologically backward but two -- Pakistan and North Korea -- are nuclear or near-nuclear powers. Some, like Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Pakistan, Yemen, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and the Sudan are part of Islam's "bloody borders". Others, like North Korea and Cuba (number 62) are Cold War relics which somehow escaped the extinction of socialist states, but for how long no one knows.

One problem with the Foreign Policy list of failing states is that it does not factor the geopolitical significance of each state -- from the perspective of the West -- into its rankings. If it did then the failed states of greatest concern would be those which intersect the axis of the Global War on Terror (Sudan, Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan etc); involve nuclear weapons (Pakistan, North Korea) or are geographically close to the major Western countries (East Timor [unrated], Solomons [unrated], Indonesia [32] for Australia; Mexico [85] and Cuba [62] for the US). If the Failed State problem were viewed less as a humanitarian challenge and more as gigantic politico-military problem then they would be less a fit subject for aid agencies and more the stuff of serious diplomatic and military strategy. But it will be difficult to persuade diplomats and soldiers to acknowledge that it falls within their competence. Diplomats are used to dealing with governments; not the absence of functioning governments. Soldiers are accustomed to defeating rival armies; not facing armed chaos. Diplomats don't do tribal conflicts and armies have no manual for dealing with swarms of kidnappers. Failing states constitute a problem for which the West has not yet evolved an appropriate organizational response...

05-31-2006, 01:26 PM
four states currently in the headlines the most worrying thing about which -- apart from that each has a Western presence which may continue for years --

Are they implying that having a Western presence is as worrisome as a failed government?

Other than that they do bring up a good point that we can't provide a "whole" solution of politico-military combined effort very well.