Monday, July 9, 2012

For Life, Liberty, and Failed States

Foreign Policy Magazine in conjunction with the Fund for Peace has released the 2012 Failed States Index.
 This information is typically useful for scholars of terrorism because failed states can be fertile recruiting grounds for terrorist organizations like Al Qaeda.
Others use the index as a rallying cry to pressure their governments to do something about the abject human misery that is spawned by malfunctioning and broken states.
This years list is headlined by
·         Somalia
·         The Democratic Republic of Congo
·         North Sudan
·         South Sudan (NOT RATED)
·         Chad
·         Zimbabwe
My larger point in writing this blog is to question whether we should even be ranking failed states at all.
 The notion of ranking failed states does seem quite subjective and heavy handed. It makes it sound like the problems in Zimbabwe are somehow worse than that of Afghanistan and Haiti, who finished sixth and seventh respectively.
I venture to say that the average Afghan or Haitian would find common cause with Zimbabwean.
Further, state failure in my view, cannot be measured through some magical set of calculations and reduced to a numerical value.
There are people on the end of these numbers who are suffering from everything from autocratic governance to little affordable food and water.
 Many suffer from several ailments. I think this index would be more helpful, if it came with explanatory country by country data that explained the numbers.

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