“Weak and Failed States”
When people such as writers, philosopher, and scientists of the past would imagine and predict what the world would be like in the twenty-first century, most thought of a glorious advanced human civilization. A civilization with a stable and unified global government and global economy that is beneficial to all. It seems that now, in year 2011, we are far from a stable international community. With a vast majority of people living without food, clean water, and basic political rights, the future envisioned 100 or 200 years ago is still far away. There are numerous nations with either weak or failed states. Since the people living in these states are usually suffering enormous hardships, something needs to be done. This leads to a few central questions like, how can a weak state be made stronger? What strategy is most likely to be effective? What would it take to turn a weak or failed state into one with sufficient strength to carry out the main functions of a state? All of these questions will be answered in order as this paper is read. Before diving into these questions, it is important to examine the key features/characteristics of a weak state.
Weak and failed states share many common characteristics. One of the most common features of a weak state is the presence of persistent violence. This violence is in the form of civil wars and civil unrest, this is an indicator that a government has lost legitimacy as well as control over some parts of territory. Other features include a weak bureaucracy that is very susceptible to corruption especially corruption from non-state actors such as terrorists and warlords. As the government’s power and influence continues to decline, citizens turn to these non-state actors for security but not always by choice, but out of necessity. Of course with such a decline in the power influence of the state, there is a lack of “political goods” such as education, health care, economic opportunity, and a working judicial system. In the vacuum the non-state actors try to provide some of these goods, never fully succeeding.
Seeing all of these key features of a weak state, many ask what causes a state weakness. Well there are many possible causes of state weakness, none of them completely true in all cases, since all cases of state weakness are different. As the state is a creation of man, the weakness or failure of it is also caused by man. There are many different ways that men have been the cause of state weakness. One of these is the fact that men leading the nation during its decline are usually personally responsible. Either the ruler alone or with his cronies on top, often times empty the nation’s coffers by indulging in the riches that they keep from their people. Another root cause of state weakness is the influence of other states, either currently or historically. Post-colonial Africa is home to many of the world’s weakest states, the reason these states are weak can be a...