Michael Ignatieff (2002) characterizes weak and collapsing states as the chief source of human rights abuses in the post-cold war world as these states comprise the world's most poor population that are easily disposed to resorting to violence against other groups, their own governments or international terrorism primarily in a battle of survival. James Wolfensohn, formerly of the World Bank, calls for a global strategy that includes measures designed to address "the root causes of terrorism: those of economic exclusion, poverty and under-development."(Wolfensohn, 2002)
This paper outlines why are failed and failing states significant threat to United States national security by first establishing whether failed and failing states are in a position to pose a significant threat to the United States. The paper will look into the reasons why they are a threat and in case it is established that failed or failing states are not a threat to US security, the essay will discuss the reasons thereof. It is also relevant to determine the scope and level of post-911 threat perceptions in the corridors of power in Washington as well as define what is a "failed" and "failing" state.
Though the concept of failed or failing state is relatively new, it has quickly established itself as part of the international relations lexicon and the strategic vernacular apparently since the year 2000, and it has many definitions. Various characterization in the literature are: fragile states (Goldstone et al, 2000), difficult partners (OECD, 2001), Low Income Countries Under Stress (LICUS) (World Bank, 2002), poor performers (AusAid, 2002), difficult environments (Torres & Anderson, 2004), weak performers (ADB, 2004), failed and failing states (Rotberg, 2004) and countries at risk of instability (Government of the UK, 2005).
CIA's Instability Task force defines state failure as the collapse of authority of the central government to impose order in situations of civil war, revolutionary war, genocide, politicide and adverse or disruptive regime transition. Rotberg (2004), on the other hand characterizes failure of the state as being marked by an inability to provide basic political goods-especially security, dispute resolution and norm regulation and political participation-to many, if not most, of its citizens. A failed state may face restrictions on its sovereignty, such as political or economic sanctions, the presence of foreign military forces on its soil or other military constraints such as a "no-fly" zone.
A prestigious journal, Foreign Policy, and the Fund for Peace, in independent research organization in their joint-project called "Failed States Index" (FSI) define a failing state as the one in which the government does not have effective control of its territory, is not perceived as legitimate by a significant portion of its population, does not provide domestic security or basic public services to its citizens and lacks a monopoly on the use of force. A failing state may experience active violence or simply be vulnerable to violence.
According to the yearly survey on state instability conducted by Foreign Policy and Fund for Peace, there are some sixty states that are most likely to qualify as failing states. Twelve social, economic, political, and military indicators were used to rank 148 states in order of their vulnerability to violent internal