Failed States Index.


About 2 billion people live in countries that are in danger of collapse....

America is now threatened less by conquering states than we are by failing ones.” That was the conclusion of the 2002 U.S. National Security Strategy. For a country whose foreign policy in the 20th century was dominated by the struggles against powerful states such as Germany, Japan, and the Soviet Union, the U.S. assessment is striking. ...

The 10 most at-risk countries in the index have already shown clear signs of state failure. Ivory Coast, a country cut in half by civil war, is the most vulnerable to disintegration; it would probably collapse completely if U.N. peacekeeping forces pulled out. It is followed by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan, Iraq, Somalia, Sierra Leone, Chad, Yemen, Liberia, and Haiti. The index includes others whose instability is less widely acknowledged, including Bangladesh (17th), Guatemala (31st), Egypt (38th), Saudi Arabia (45th), and Russia (59th).


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I think the article has an interesting point on the value of democracy on the stability of states:

he index does not provide any easy answers for those looking to shore up countries on the brink. Elections are almost universally regarded as helpful in reducing conflict. However, if they are rigged, conducted during active fighting, or attract a low turnout, they can be ineffective or even harmful to stability. Electoral democracy appears to have had only a modest impact on the stability of states such as Iraq, Rwanda, Kenya, Venezuela, Nigeria, and Indonesia. Ukraine ranks as highly vulnerable in large part because of last year’s disputed election.
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This is pretty similar to the assessment Thomas Barnett came up with in his study of "Core" and "Gap" countries, where he essentially the Gap states are the failed ones where you will likely see future conflicts occur.

I think one of the biggest differences from Barnett's thinking is how Russia is high up there in the instability rankings. I think he holds the belief that the other Core states (such as the US, EU, and Australia) wouldn't let a nation as important as Russia fall into anarchy.
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