A 4GW QUESTION
This will delight some, intrigue many and annoy others but I found it to be a good counterintuitive question worth considering.
Ahistoricality, posting at ProgressiveHistorians regarding the latest Failed States index, wonders about applying the criteria for state failure, used by Foreign Policy, to the linchpin of the global Core, the United States:
“The annual “Failed States Index” is out. The concept is an interesting one, indicating our very recent idea that national governments are supposed to be stable, almost eternal, and that society is supposed to manage all its conflicts with policy, that all land and people deserve stable governance. I’m not criticizing the ideas, I’m just pointing out that they are recent conceits, not eternal verities, and up to the end of WWI the most likely response to a failed state was imperial takeover.
The headlines regarding the index are highlighting Iraq’s precarious position as the second most failing state in the world, but it was a tight finish between the Sudan, Iraq, Zimbabwe and Somalia for the top spots. The only two non-African nations in the top ten of this list are Iraq and Afghanistan. Two things come to mind immediately when I look at this list: first, our imperial interventions are clearly short-term disasters, and; second, the history of failed post-colonial states suggests that they might well be long-term ones.
The full list of 177 states is interesting reading. The top thirty-two (the most critical, by their reckoning) are dominated by post-colonial African and Asian states. The rest of the top sixty adds some Latin American and Central Asian governments. Russia and China are tied with Azerbaijan and Lesotho for 62nd place.
The US ranked 160th, or 18th from the top in terms of state stability. I wonder, though. I’m including the list of factors they considered: do you think we’re as safe as all that?
1. Mounting Demographic Pressures
2. Massive Movement of Refugees or Internally Displaced Persons creating Complex Humanitarian Emergencies
3. Legacy of Vengeance-Seeking Group Grievance or Group Paranoia
4. Chronic and Sustained Human Flight
5. Uneven Economic Development along Group Lines
6. Sharp and/or Severe Economic Decline
7. Criminalization and/or Delegitimization of the State
8. Progressive Deterioration of Public Services
9. Suspension or Arbitrary Application of the Rule of Law and Widespread Violation of Human Rights
10. Security Apparatus Operates as a “State Within a State”
11. Rise of Factionalized Elites
12. Intervention of Other States or External Political Actors”
Naturally, I disagree that the United States is in danger of imminent or medium term state failure though such things are not impossible. The secession crisis before the Civil War was an event of critical state failure. Late 1932 and early 1933 saw at least symptoms of state failure and delegitimization amidst the economic implosion of the Great Depression and the collapse of the banking system.
What do you think ?