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Unformatted text preview: C H A P T E R O N E Failed States, Collapsed States, Weak States: Causes and Indicators ROBERT I. ROTBERG 1 Nation-states fail because they are convulsed by internal violence and can no longer deliver positive political goods to their inhabitants. Their govern- ments lose legitimacy, and the very nature of the particular nation-state itself becomes illegitimate in the eyes and in the hearts of a growing plurality of its citizens. The rise and fall of nation-states is not new, but in a modern era when na- tional states constitute the building blocks of legitimate world order the violent disintegration and palpable weakness of selected African, Asian, Oceanic, and Latin American states threaten the very foundation of that system. International organizations and big powers consequently find themselves sucked disconcert- ingly into a maelstrom of anomic internal conflict and messy humanitarian relief. Desirable international norms such as stability and predictability thus become difficult to achieve when so many of the globe’s newer nation-states waver precariously between weakness and failure, with some truly failing, or even collapsing. In a time of terror, moreover, appreciating the nature of and responding to the dynamics of nation-state failure have become central to criti- cal policy debates. How best to strengthen weak states and prevent state failure are among the urgent questions of the twenty-first century. This book examines contemporary cases of nation-state collapse and fail- ure. 1 It establishes clear criteria for distinguishing collapse and failure from generic weakness or apparent distress, and collapse from failure. It further ana- lyzes the nature of state weakness and advances reasons why some weak states 2 R O B E R T I . R O T B E R G succumb to failure, or collapse, and why others in ostensibly more straightened circumstances remain weak and at risk without ever destructing. Characteriz- ing failed states is thus an important and relevant endeavor, especially because the phenomenon of state failure is under-researched, hitherto with imprecise definitions and a paucity of sharply argued, instructive, and well-delineated cases. Further, understanding exactly why weak states slide toward failure will help policymakers to design methods to prevent failure and, in the cases of states that nevertheless fail (or collapse), to revive them and assist in the re- building process. States are much more varied in their capacity and capability than they once were. They are more numerous than they were a half century ago, and the range of their population sizes, physical endowments, wealth, productivity, delivery systems, ambitions, and attainments is much more extensive than ever before....
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This note was uploaded on 11/29/2010 for the course IR 109 taught by Professor Heinz during the Spring '10 term at Rochester.
- Spring '10
- The Land