v8n1_07 - Fixing Failing States: The New Security Agenda by...

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The Whitehead Journal of Diplomacy and International Relations Fixing Failing States: The New Security Agenda by Pauline H. Baker W eak and failing states rank among the world’s greatest threats to international peace and security today. While major threats to world peace used to come mainly from ideological, military, or economic competition among competing states, in modern times lethal threats are growing within states from communal tensions among rival factions, extremists groups with radical political agendas, and faltering regimes clinging to power and asserting militaristic ambitions. These are the driving forces of a growing world disorder. 1 Recent events highlight this paradigm shift in the strategic environment. North Korea is a failing state with an inward-looking regime and a negative view of the world. Its own insecurities, including its fear of a US invasion, are motivating it to pursue nuclear capabilities that have increased its isolation further and exacerbated tensions. 2 Lebanon is a weak state that successfully cast off fifteen years of Syrian military occupation, but was unable to assert its sovereignty and fill the vacuum left behind. Hezbollah used that opportunity to assert itself as a “state within a state,” with dual power bases in the government and in the south, where its autonomous security forces launched a devastating war with Israel in July 2006. Then there is Sudan, a country with the highest risk of internal violence that has stonewalled effective international action to stop the continuing humanitarian crisis in Darfur, described by the US State Department as genocide. 3 Internal weaknesses within these states have increased the threat of nuclear proliferation, precipitated an interstate war, and worsened an ongoing humanitarian crisis, respectively. Though the origins of state weakness go back decades, the curtain was raised on the era of failing states—if one can call it that—by the tragedy of September 11, 2001. One year after the biggest terrorist attack on the US in history, the 2002 US National Security Strategy stated that America is threatened more by failing states than it is by conquering states, overturning decades of US national security thinking. Overnight, we went from looking at security through a “big power” lens to seeing it from a “small power” lens. Much of the rest of the world has come to see security challenges from that perspective as well. Dr. Pauline H. Baker is president of The Fund for Peace, an independent educational and research organization based in Washington DC. She is also a professorial lecturer at The Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. 85
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BAKER The Whitehead Journal of Diplomacy and International Relations Terrorism brought the message home. However, other threats, such as secession, religious extremism, organized crime, money laundering, drug trafficking, and pandemics, also are linked to failing states. While negative forces can emerge in
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This note was uploaded on 02/01/2012 for the course INTERNATIO 101 taught by Professor Staff during the Fall '09 term at Boise State.

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v8n1_07 - Fixing Failing States: The New Security Agenda by...

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