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Thread: Sanctuary or Ungoverned Spaces:identification, symptoms and responses

  1. #21
    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    Interesting post, Mike. I think it raises some really good points about he semantics of "failed/ing" vs "fragile" states.
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    RAND, 9 May 08: Breaking the Failed State Cycle
    In their research and field experience, the authors have observed a wide gulf separating the treatment of the security problems of failed states from the treatment of those states’ economic problems. This, in turn, may impair treatment of political problems. Such disunity of effort in assisting failed states may suboptimize resource allocation, hinder coordination, and cause important demands to be neglected. With their different backgrounds—security, economic development, political systems, health policy, and institution-building—the authors felt that, as a team, they might be able to forge an integrated, general approach to rescuing failed states, recognizing that each specific case demands a tailored approach. After holding a seminar with representatives of the World Bank, the United Nations, development agencies, and several security organizations, the RAND team set out in search of ideas that would bridge the gap and thus permit more effective strategies and actions toward failed states.

    The approach on which they settled was to identify certain critical difficulties that contribute to the cycle of violence, economic collapse, and political failure that ensnares vulnerable states. While such difficulties demand special attention, they often suffer from inattention—precisely because they fall into the crevasses between security, economics, and politics. Simply stated, the international community is ill equipped to treat the causes of state failure....

  3. #23
    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    Wow, counter-terrorism activities are so far away from the World Bank's responsibilities that this is ridiculous.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    Wow, counter-terrorism activities are so far away from the World Bank's responsibilities that this is ridiculous.
    The book, and this thread in general, is looking at the issue of failed/fragile states as a strategic enabling factor in the growth and spread of organized violence. It was never intended to take a narrow CT view.

    The World Bank, despite its being a massive international bureaucracy - with all the problems inherent in that descriptor - at least recognizes the need to bridge the security-development divide. With the establishment of its Fragile and Conflict-Affected Countries Group last year, it adjusted its structure and made an operational commitment to an attempt to more effectively address what it understood conceptually.

    Ridiculous? No. Difficult, complex and destined to make plenty of mistakes along the way? Yes.
    Last edited by Jedburgh; 05-28-2008 at 10:55 PM.

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    Foreign Policy, Jul-Aug 08: Failed States Index 2008
    Whether it is an unexpected food crisis or a devastating hurricane, the world’s weakest states are the most exposed when crisis strikes. In the fourth annual Failed States Index, FOREIGN POLICY and The Fund for Peace rank the countries where state collapse may be just one disaster away.....

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    Berghof Research Center, 9 Apr 09:

    Building Peace in the Absence of States: Challenging the Discourse on State Failure
    ....This Berghof Handbook Dialogue will not present an additional compilation of definitions and/or theoretical approaches concerning failed, fragile or weak states, nor will it offer recipes or policy recommendations in a technical sense. Our intention is instead to present some food for thought on the general premises of these concepts and to point out dilemmas which mark the current discourse (and practice). The lead article asks poignantly whether it is the states (in the South) that are failing, or the analysis of research (undertaken mostly in the North) that is inadequate or incomplete. Given a situation where state-building efforts are more often than not designed by the North and introduced to the South, this question needs to be investigated. This implies critically and honestly identifying the potential, and limits, of external intervention....
    Complete 98-page paper at the link.

  7. #27
    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    Default "Failed States"- Human Tragedy or Man-Made Disaster?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Failed_state

    There is a lot of talk these days about "Failed States."

    The first question I've been mulling around in my head is:

    1. Is this something that we really need to be concerned about, or are "failed states" simply a fact that is having unwarranted concerns attached to it by well meaning individuals seeking answers to complex issues who simply don't understand the nature of the problems we face?

    For example, look at the definition of a failed state as provided in Wikipedia. By this definition, the Sioux Indian Tribe as it lived and dominated the northern plains of the current United States for some 100 + years was a "failed state." As, apparently, are most all tribal based governments.

    There is no one leader who can speak for all, concepts of borders and control of terrain within those borders are completely inconsistent with Western, Westphalian concepts of what a proper state should look like, etc.

    So my second question is this:

    2. Are we dealing with a rash of failed states that must be "fixed" to prevent greater problems, or, are we merely seeing how the tools of globalization are enabling populaces whose concept of government was originally rooted in tribalism to reject the western concepts of borders and "proper" government that were forced upon them?

    This is something that we need to talk about. Woven into it are concepts of "sanctuary" (is sanctuary something found in "ungoverned spaces or is it more accurately something found within some legal status, often provided by a border, or perhaps within a poorly governed populace?) or of "effectiveness of governance" (Does insurgency happen because governments suck at providing the services that westerners expect from their governments? or does insurgency arise from a place higher and less tangible on Mr. Maslow’s hierarchy in the realm of "respect" and what could better be described as perceptions "poor" governance coupled with no available means to resolve short of conflict?)

    I, for one, believe that "failed states" are a natural evolution of governance for our times, and that it is the West that needs to learn finally how to engage with tribal constructs, and not simply default to forcing the tribes to look, dress, pray, and act just like us. We've gotten away with that for a couple hundred years, but I believe that era is over. Let’s instead help these populaces to operate within the terms of their own governmental constructs. Not only is it likely to be better received, but it is also likely to do a far better job of dealing with problems like "sanctuary" and "insurgency."
    Last edited by Bob's World; 06-24-2009 at 07:13 PM.
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    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    For example, look at the definition of a failed state as provided in Wikipedia. By this definition, the Sioux Indian Tribe as it lived and dominated the northern plains of the current United States for some 100 + years was a "failed state." As, apparently, are most all tribal based governments.
    Historical nitpick - not so. Based on the wiki article's four points:
    * loss of physical control of its territory, or of the monopoly on the legitimate use of physical force therein,
    * erosion of legitimate authority to make collective decisions,
    * an inability to provide reasonable public services, and
    * an inability to interact with other states as a full member of the international community.
    The Sioux were not a failed state. Their council system supported collective decisions (almost to a fault in some cases). Once they modified their existing cultural support system to deal with horses and other European imports they actually provided very good public services (if you count food and shelter as public services...for one example look at the ability of one major camp to absorb two major waves of refugees during the 1876 Great Sioux War). And if you count other tribes (as well as the various factions and divisions within the Sioux) as an international community of sorts, the Sioux actually did quite well. They came to a working understanding with the Northern Cheyenne and Arapaho, and traded with other groups as well. One could, however, take the position that most reservations could qualify as failed states, but that's a different thread.

    Sorry...I had to take a whack at that statement, more to point out that I don't think a tribal system per se creates a failed nation. Where I think you begin seeing failed states is when outside intervention creates artificial borders and confuses an existing tribal structure (for one example, look at the reservation system that played a role in both initiating the 1872 Modoc War and led to the 1877 Nez Perce conflict...both resulted from either an ill-advised resettlement effort or attempting to force two traditional enemies to coexist on the same reservation).

    The concept of governmental services is an interesting one, and should be looked at as much as possible from the standpoint of the population. Another Frontier example might be the 1874 Red River War. One of the major causes was the removal or restriction of a very important part of male Kiowa cultural development: the ability to earn honor through conflict (to include stealing horses from neighbors). This created a great deal of pressure on the so-called peace chiefs and allowed the various Kiowa warrior societies to gain in cultural power and eventually encourage their people into war. This also happened to a degree with the Southern Cheyenne in the late 1860s. In both cases you're looking at leaders (as understood in the traditional Western sense) being unable to provide a basic service for their people (the ability to earn honor through traditional means), which in turn undermined their authority within the tribe and created a sort of social insurgency led by the heads of the various warrior societies.

    The fact is that in many places that house "failed states" the borders were drawn by a succession of European colonial powers and don't necessarily reflect the reality on the ground. It's that colonial legacy, IMO, that creates most of the problems. And, after all, the US shows up as a moderately failing state in the wiki article, as does most of Europe....
    "On the plains and mountains of the American West, the United States Army had once learned everything there was to learn about hit-and-run tactics and guerrilla warfare."
    T.R. Fehrenbach This Kind of War

  9. #29
    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    This is, my perhaps inartfully stated, point. Something is not failed simply becuase it operates differently than us, nor is it failed if it rejects attempts to change forced upon it so that it would be like us.

    I believe that both the current concept of "failed state" is flawed in its definition, as well as its potential consequence.
    Robert C. Jones
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    "The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

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    For an interesting discussion of "failed states" go to Foreign Policy magazine's website. They just published this year's report.

  11. #31
    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Old Eagle View Post
    For an interesting discussion of "failed states" go to Foreign Policy magazine's website. They just published this year's report.
    Exactly my point. We even track and publish list of these states in major policy journals, yet is what we are focusing on really important for the reasons we focus on it?

    I believe it is one more distraction from what we really need to be focusing on; or perhaps rather that we should simply take this as an indicator of change rather than an indicator of "failure."

    For example, the states that currently exist across the trans-sahel are occupied by populaces that were "globalized" long before any westerner coined the phrase, or before any westerner even stepped foot in the region for that matter. Tribal systems controlled the flow of commerce through the region; and the overlay of borders by outsiders was irrelevant to that age-old process. A very similar situation exists in SEA where commerce moves as it always has between Malaysia, Indonesian and the Philippines. While it may upset our sense of western propriety and concepts of sovereignty that this happens without the control of some central government, it does not make these states "failed" or even "weak," they simply have different paradigms and standards.

    We go in and demand that they do something that is not important to them in order to control the transit of things that are of concern to us. We develop elaborate schemes to "build capacity" to execute these functions, with little regard to how unimportant it is to the target audiance, and in fact, how counter-productive and disruptive it is to the local populace in general. Any measure that hinders the movement of "bad" things, hinders far more the movement of "good" things; thereby further alienating the very populace who's support you are trying to secure.

    These same populaces may with equal credibility look to the west and point out that it is perhaps we that are the failing states, given the current series of crises that we are weathering. After all, their system is operating exactly as designed, while ours is floundering under mismangagement and abuse.

    I believe we lack a certain empathy on this issue, and confuse "not like us" for "not right."
    Last edited by Bob's World; 06-24-2009 at 09:12 PM.
    Robert C. Jones
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    (Understanding is more important than Knowledge)

    "The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

  12. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    These same populaces may with equal credibility look to the west and point out that it is perhaps we that are the failing states, given the current series of crises that we are weathering. After all, their system is operating exactly as designed, while ours is floundering under mismangagement and abuse.
    You are quite right. We are struggling for our national survival. Things are happening locally and nationally that have not happened in decades. We do not have a plan that I can see and what's more we never will because that would be to much like Communism.......But we have a plan....No A Strategic plan!!! for everybody else's country but ours. Time for some nice calming music

    for your listening pleasure and cultural enhancement from Slapout,Al. The Soul Of The South and Strategic Center Of The Universe - 1965 Barry Mcgurire..."The Eve Of Destruction"





    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D8Sfi...eature=related

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Boy, what a bunch of pessimists you old guys are ...

    To paraphrase Bob's World who said:
    "Something is not failed simply becuase it operates differently than us, nor is it failed if it rejects attempts to change forced upon it so that it would be like us."
    Remember it doesn't have to be done the way you'd like to be okay...

    We are not failed or even flailing, much less struggling for national survival -- no matter how bad the Politicians screw it up and they are sure doing their usual good job of that -- as for Communism; Guvmint Motors (GM) and the would be NSHSS (National Socialist Health System on Steroids) reject your aspersion.

    Sheesh, lighten up, Folks.

    P.S.

    Bob, I agree with most of your points re: other nations -- and that 'failed state' is a bad and misleading term. One I think is too often used by various activist types, right and left, to promote generally dippy and flawed agendas of all sorts -- and of which little real good comes; most particularly to the 'failed state' in question...

    And rarely to he who 'helps.'

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    -- as for Communism; Guvmint Motors (GM) and the would be NSHSS (National Socialist Health System on Steroids) reject your aspersion.
    Will the trains run on time, at least?
    "The status quo is not sustainable. All of DoD needs to be placed in a large bag and thoroughly shaken. Bureaucracy and micromanagement kill."
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  15. #35
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default No. Not an issue -- but they run will to / through your city

    regardless of profitability or logic provided your Congressional delegation has enough clout. Isn't that enough? Why this carping over trivia like 'on time?' Tch, tch...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    regardless of profitability or logic provided your Congressional delegation has enough clout. Isn't that enough? Why this carping over trivia like 'on time?' Tch, tch...
    Ah, absolutely true. And we wouldn't see them for 8 to 12 weeks, then suddenly every previously scheduled train would arrive at once.

    But, sorry, back to the topic...
    "The status quo is not sustainable. All of DoD needs to be placed in a large bag and thoroughly shaken. Bureaucracy and micromanagement kill."
    -- Ken White


    "With a plan this complex, nothing can go wrong." -- Schmedlap

    "We are unlikely to usefully replicate the insights those unencumbered by a military staff college education might actually have." -- William F. Owen

  17. #37
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default That's because Burlington Northern was the Congressional favorite

    at the time and the northern route got twice daily service except for Sunday while you had to wait for every other Sunday that UP swapped off with Santa Fe to get all your trains...

    Uh, right. What WAS the topic? Ah, yes, Foiled States.

    I still agree with Bob's World. Not at all sure that States who do not do it our way are necessarily failed, nor do I think we (the West in general) have either an obligation or even a right to interfere as often as we do. I know that most of the West's interventions have done harm as well as little good -- that's a matter of record. Bigotry is not expressed only by poor treatment or verbiage...

  18. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    Not at all sure that States who do not do it our way are necessarily failed, nor do I think we (the West in general) have either an obligation or even a right to interfere as often as we do. I know that most of the West's interventions have done harm as well as little good -- that's a matter of record. Bigotry is not expressed only by poor treatment or verbiage...

    See it's that moral thing again

  19. #39
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Common sense and decency,

    no moral BS about it.

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    Bob,

    I served in a failed state as a defense attache charged with executing US policy that was simply impossible to apply in any meaningful way. That state was of course Zaire in Mobutu's declining years. Even before the Rwandan genocide finished sinking the Zairian ship, it was very clear the vessel was on the rocks and breaking apart. It had been doing so for years and US policy had sought to hold it together. We had done so for more than 30 years by the time I got on the ground but the end of the Cold War and 2 military mutinies had done what 3 decades of periodic rebellion had not done, namely driven Mobutu up country, leaving the state to collapse on itself.

    US policy makers absolutely refused to see it for what it was: a non-state that had failed in its attempts (and ours as the West) to make it so. Because they refused to see it for what it was, we could not hope to address what it was going to become.

    That is where I see the problem with the failed state moniker--most of the time the failed state was never a state to begin with. By that I mean a nation of people who saw themselves as a national body without having a gun at their collective heads. In these cases, we are not negotiating with governments, we are talking to individual leaders who may or may not actually control all, part, or none of the area in question. Our system of diplomacy including international diplomacy is built on the exact opposite premise: that governments control all regions and that if you plug into the correct government you can influence its behavior.

    The reality is quite different and I would suggest that the classic application of gunpowder or gold is the answer in such cases, with the strong caveat that neither be applied unless absolutely necessary. Staying out is always easier than getting out. And if you do go in, go hard and get out before the dust settles.

    Tom

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