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National Security CouncilBack to Top

U.S. State DepartmentBack to Top GeneralBack to Top PeacekeepingBack to Top Nation BuildingBack to Top Failed States, Failing States, Fragile StatesBack to Top
  • See also nation building

  • See also global trends on Future page

  • See also Pentagon's New Map and related concepts on Theory page

  • See also transition to/from hostilities on Lessons Learned page

  • Ungoverned Territories: Understanding and Reducing Terrorism Risks, by Rabasa et al, RAND report, 2007

  • The Failed States Index, May/June 2006, from Foreign Policy and the Fund for Peace

  • Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization (S/CRS), U.S. State Department

  • Conflict Management and Mitigation (CMM), a USAID program

  • U.S. Threatened by "Failed States," USAID's Natsios Says - Official outlines U.S. development strategy for helping failed states (local copy), 17 Feb 05

  • USAID’s 2005 Fragile States Strategy (local copy), Jan 2005
  • USAID’s Approach in Fragile States (local copy), USAID presentation, summer seminar session 12, 14 Sep 04

  • Grand Strategies for Dealing with Other States in the New, New World Order, by Miskel, Naval War College Review, Winter 2005 - with section on failing states
    • Failing-states strategies are of a completely different order than pivotal, buffer, or seam-states strategies. Theoretically, pivotal and buffer-states strategies target other states as being relatively capable of either projecting influence regionally or acting as barriers against intrusion by third parties. Failing states are capable of neither, and it is their very incapacity that causes some strategists to believe that they warrant high priority in state-to-state assistance.

  • Feral Cities, by Norton, Naval War College Review, Autumn 2003

  • Developing Tools for Transition (local copy), remarks by Arthur E. Dewey, Assistant Secretary for Population, Refugees and Migration, 28 Oct 2004
    • There are few, if any, surprises in a state on the path to failure. The road to chaos is predictable, reliable, and inevitable once a series of well-known thresholds have been crossed. These thresholds include:
      • The rise of leaders and warlords driven by greed for money and power, who are oblivious to the rights and needs of their people.
      • Discrimination, by race, class, ethnicity, politics, or religion.
      • Increasing human rights violations, leading to civil strife and breakdown in public order.
      • Economic hardship, communicable disease, malnutrition, starvation, ethnic cleansing. In the most extreme cases, as in Rwanda ten years ago, and Darfur today – genocide.
      • Movements of large numbers of people from their homes, internally and externally, to places of refuge, or to places where they are less of a minority.
      • Finally, too late and too little intervention by the international humanitarian and/or peacekeeping community.
    • All of this leads to a failed state whose people become the wards of the international community. Their survival, and revival, depend upon the uneven capabilities an international community only beginning to awaken to the realities of development today. This international community is even farther behind in developing a literacy, and a know-how, to shape and conduct transition support operations.

  • Nation-State Failure: A Recurring Phenomenon? (local copy), NIC 2020 paper, National Intelligence Council

  • Preventing Conflicts Before They Erupt (local copy), remarks by Donald K. Steinberg, Deputy Director for Policy Planning, State Department, 23 Sep 2002
    • In trying to predict where conflict will emerge, experts within government have looked at scores of conflicts over past decades and identified "associative" if not "causative" factors. Nine of these are particularly instructive.
      • First is the degree of political participation, responsive governance, and rule of law. Societies must have safety valves to permit the peaceful redress of grievances.
      • Second is the nexus of urbanization, population pressure, and the state of economy. A quick route to conflict is through youth unemployment and lack of opportunity.
      • The condition of the education system is vital. Investment in schools and in girls’ education in particular is the single most important factor in improving health, agriculture, and other socio-economic standards, and giving youth a stake in the future.
      • Next is the existence or absence of institutions of civil society, including women’s organizations.
      • Fifth is religious and ethnic homogeneity, or at least the extent to which differences are tolerated.
      • Next is: "Location, location, location." The role of neighbors in either mediating or fueling disputes is fundamental. Countries in bad neighborhoods risk spillover from armed combatants, refugees and arms flows; those is good neighborhoods receive a powerful dampening effect on potential violence.
      • Seventh is the role of the military and security forces in the political structure.
      • Eighth is international engagement, including the openness of the economy. Conflicts are like mushrooms: they grow best in darkness.
      • Finally, has there been upheaval during past 15 years? Contrary to the warning on an investment prospectus, the past record is an indicator of future performance.
    • These are among the factors we need to monitor as indicators and potential triggers of conflict, and this is one area where governments are highly dependent on the work of civil society to provide ground truth. We cannot do much about many of these factors, nor can we stop natural disasters that often translate into conflict. Still, every drought does not have to become a famine.

  • Failed States and Casualty Phobia: Implications for Force Structure and Technology Choices, Jeffrey Record, CSAT paper 18

  • Failed States Warlordism and "Tribal" Warfare, by Woodward, Naval War College Review, Spring 1999

  • Spotting the Losers: Seven Signs of Non-Competitive States, by Peters, in Parameters, Spring 1998
    • "They are as simple as they are fundamental, and they are rooted in culture. The greater the degree to which a state--or an entire civilization--succumbs to these "seven deadly sins" of collective behavior, the more likely that entity is to fail to progress or even to maintain its position in the struggle for a share of the world's wealth and power."
    • These key "failure factors" are:
      • Restrictions on the free flow of information.
      • The subjugation of women.
      • Inability to accept responsibility for individual or collective failure.
      • The extended family or clan as the basic unit of social organization.
      • Domination by a restrictive religion.
      • A low valuation of education.
      • Low prestige assigned to work.

  • Spotting Trouble Identifying Faltering and Failing States, by Norton and Miskel, Naval War College Review, Spring 1997

  • The Political Component: The Missing Vital Element in US Intervention Planning, by Clarke and Gosende, in Parameters, Autumn 1996

  • Democratization and Failed States: The Challenge of Ungovernability, by Dorff, in Parameters, Summer 1996

  • State Collapse and Ethnic Violence: Toward a Predictive Model, by Baker and Ausink, in Parameters, Spring 1996

Non-State Actors, Sub-State ActorsBack to Top Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs)Back to Top World and Regional OrganizationsBack to Top World and Regional Studies & NewsBack to Top Partnership for PeaceBack to Top Civilian Universities and SchoolsBack to Top Military Colleges and SchoolsBack to Top Foreign Military Studies OfficeBack to Top Institute for National Strategic Studies (INSS), National Defense Univ.Back to Top Strategic CultureBack to Top Human Security ParadigmBack to Top Warrior Societies and Non-US Philosophies of Peace and WarBack to Top
  • See also strategic culture

  • See also chaos, warriors, & barbarians on Future Studies page

  • It's the Tribes, Stupid, by Pressfield, posted by D-N-I, Oct 2006 - an alternative view
    • For two years I've been researching a book about Alexander the Great's counter-guerrilla campaign in Afghanistan, 330-327 B.C. What struck me most powerfully is that that war is a dead ringer for the ones we're fighting today – even though Alexander was pre-Christian and his enemies were pre-Islamic.
    • The heart of every tribal male is that of a warrior. Even the most wretched youth in a Palestinian refugee camp sees himself as a knight of Islam. The Pathan code of nangwali prescribes three virtues – nang, pride; badal, revenge; melmastia, hospitality. These guys are Apaches.
    • What the warrior craves before all else is respect. Respect from his own people, and, even more, from his enemy. When we of the West understand this, as Alexander did, we'll have taken the first step toward solving the unsolvable.

  • The New Warrior Class, by Peters, in Parameters

  • 21st Century Land Warfare: Four Dangerous Myths, by Dunlap, in Parameters
    • Myth 1: Our most likely future adversaries will be like us
    • Myth 2: We can safely downsize our military in favor of smaller, highly trained forces equipped with high-technology weapons
    • Myth 3: We can achieve information superiority and even dominance in future conflicts
    • Myth 4: Modern technology will make future war more humane if not bloodless
Ministries of Defence and Armed ForcesBack to Top International Think Tanks and Policy CentersBack to Top


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