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Comparing Failed States Essay

1945 words - 8 pages

Examining the degree of state failure between contemporary Georgia in to the moderate degree of state failure in present-day Serbia, this essay argues that the resource curse most significantly accounts for the disjuncture in regime capabilities and potency found across these cases. The availability of large oil and natural gas resources in the context of the Georgian case, the country’s state never faced pressures to engage in significant economic diversification or to build state apparatuses to collective revenue and providing services. In contrast, the Serbian case demonstrates that the country’s separation and reconstruction in the wake of early 1990s warfare saw the country forced to ...view middle of the document...

Meanwhile, the resource curse operates potently within the Georgian case because the ubiquity of natural resource export opportunities in this second case precluded pressures with economic diversification and the construction of state capacity. The essay thus argues that, despite the shared post-communist heritage of these countries, the presence of such salient exportable resources in the Georgian cases accounts for the high degree of state failure found within it.
Research Design
The research design used in this study is premised on the Most-Similar-Systems Design approach. Sartori (1991) argues that this method is premised upon selecting two cases with different baseline characteristics and then comparing the sources promoting differences in case outcomes. In other words, as per Frendreis (1983), this approach to systematic comparison is one which identifies and holds several commonalities found across the two cases as independent variables as constant, and attempts to understand how differences in other independent variables, differing across the cases, might serve to explain differential outcomes in terms of a dependent variable. In this specific case, the dependent variable under analysis is thus state potency and stability, whilst some of the common independent variables include the dyad’s shared post-communist heritage and history of recent civil war.
With this in mind, the work of Meur & Berg-Schlosser (1994) makes it clear that the main value of such a research design is its ability to elucidate divergent causal pathways through longitudinal analysis. Tangibly, the implication of this is that a most-similar-systems design can, because it holds certain variables constant, examine how time impacts a dependent variable. Applied to the Georgian-Serbian dyad, the use of such a research design is thus germane inasmuch as it is attuned to examining how different critical junctures in each state’s economic and political development contributed to bringing about the variation in levels of case-by-case state failure which we bear witness to today. Thus, the most similar systems design is highly attuned to elucidating the critical causal junctures and structures which serve to explain differential state capacity across the cases.
State Failure in Georgia
Beginning with Georgia, it can be conceptualized of as representing a failed state by virtue of both the annexation of its South Ossetian region by Russia in 2009, and because of the previous failure of the Shevardnadze Administration, as it pertains to general governance (Dresen, 2010). With regards to the former, Kolossov & O’Loughlin (2011) note that, even in the context of Russia’s invasion of the region, Georgia was unable to manifest centralized control over its military, and thus resist the incursion made by Russian forces. With regards to the latter, and far more broadly, the story of Georgia’s state failure is one which dates back to the end of the Cold War. Indeed, Schueth (2012)...

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