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The rise and decline of the paradigm of failed States
Material posted: Publication date: 04-02-2014

For ten and a half years, since mid 1990-ies and up to approximately 2010, the idea of national security in the U.S. were formulated mainly with emphasis on the dangers posed by weak and failed States. Such countries were seen as breeding grounds for terrorism and centers of regional chaos, crime, disease and environmental degradation.

To get to the roots of these problems, the United States must reach out and help stabilise these countries, taking part in nation building to neo-Imperial level. And the United States have extended a helping hand – the most obvious way during the long campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq.

However, after decades of conflict and so little progress, that they are not worthy of mention, the newest era of interventionist U.S. policy in the field of state-building comes to an end. And, although there are real reasons for changing this course – the United States can no longer afford such missions, and the society from them wearily – a rejection of the idea of state-building reflects a deeper truth: the idea-fix for weak States was always more like mania than on sound strategic doctrine. Her death will not make the United States more isolationist and vulnerable, but on the contrary liberate the country, giving her the opportunity to focus on more important global roles.

The birth of a paradigm

After the end of the Cold war, many American strategists and practitioners in the field of security, surveying the mostly favorable in terms of the security situation, came to the conclusion that the most significant risks include the fragility of the state structures, and as a result recommended to make drastic changes in the foreign and military policy of the United States. In an interconnected world, they have proven, chaos, violence, and the reasons for the conflicts in any region potentially affect U.S. interests, and weak countries are factories for such instability. Events in Somalia, Haiti and the former Yugoslavia gave rise to such concern, and by 1994, the CIA financed the temporary operational task force on failed States, in order to solve such problems.

In 1997 the Clinton administration released a presidential Directive 56 titled "Managing complex operations in an emergency situation," which begins with the statement that "after the cold war attention was focused on the increasing number of territorial disputes, armed ethnic conflicts and civil wars that threaten peace in the region and around the world." The new focus of U.S. policy, accordingly, will be to respond to these situations "complex operations composed of such components as policy/diplomacy, humanitarian assistance, intelligence information, economic development and security".

Critics from among the realists objected to emerging ideas, proving that the intervention of the Clinton administration in state-building in the peripheral regions is a dangerous And crazy during his presidential campaign of 2000, George W. Bush was nominated as a candidate, defending the moderation of foreign policy, stating, inter alia, that nation building is a dangerous deviation from policy. His Advisor Condoleezza rice with dissatisfaction said that one should not ask for U.S. troops to escort the children to school; his Vice-President dick Cheney suggested that the administration terminated U.S. participation in Balkan operations; and the day before the election Bush himself declared: "Let me tell you what else bothers me: I'm worried about the opponent that uses the concept of "nation building" and "military" in the same sentence".

But the attacks of 9/11 threw all these doubts aside, as it was apparent valid implication interventionist "war on terrorism". On the first page of the document the Bush administration's 2002 "national security Strategy" States that "for America Now a more significant threat comes from failed States than from competing. The fleets and armies threaten us with less than lethal technology in the hands of a few embittered people".

A new consensus was bipartisan. The head of the foreign policy of the Democrats, Susan rice, for example, wrote in 2003 that Bush was "wisely drew attention to the significant threats to our national security emanating from weak or failed States". Where right-wingers focused on security and terrorism, the left has been added concern about the humanitarian problems. In addition, for the winning side joined development specialists, thanks to new research that has highlighted the importance of institutions and governance as a requirement for sustainable economic success. In his work of 2004 "State-building" political scientist Francis Fukuyama wrote that "weak and failed States were likely to have been the single most significant problem for international order". The newspaper "Washington Post" commented biased in the same year that "weak States threaten the security explicitly providing shelter for terrorists, but also nurtures organized crime, intensifying the flows of migrants, undermining global efforts to control environmental threats and disease". This argument, the article concludes, "no longer contested". A year later the Director of the state Department policy planning Stephen Krasner and its newly appointed coordinator for reconstruction and stabilization Carlos Pascual argued in the pages of the same newspaper that "in today's increasingly interconnected world, weak and failed States present a high degree of risk to U.S. and global security. Undoubtedly, they are one of the most significant foreign policy problems of the modern era".

When viewed from one perspective, the concern about weak States could be seen as a reaction to the existing realities. Disorganized parts of the developing world has always abounded with problems. In the absence of conflict of the great powers as extraordinary national security priority, those problems were more clearly visible, and they became harder to ignore. From another point of view, this concern can be seen as a classic "virus of the mind" – an intellectual idea or imagination that is rapidly gaining popularity through communication between people, using articles of outstanding thinkers, excited the attention of the mainstream press and the number of grants for the creation of funds, and project teams of scientists, as a result of the roundtables and conferences.

From another point of view, however, it was seen as the solution of unusual problems faced by senior US policy in this era: what to do with the surplus of the Federal government. The United States entered the 1990-ies, having a dominant position in the world and in the absence of immediate threats. The adoption of a significantly reduced global role for the U.S. would require a fundamental reassessment of the existing consensus in favour of the continuation of domination, but few in the national security of the United States or around him were willing to admit it. So instead, consciously or not, the Agency has developed a new rationale for global commitments involving the use of force and influence on issues that at any other time would be regarded as secondary or tertiary. Without any equivalent competitor (or several) that you want to keep, or the prospects of a major war on the horizon, Washington has found a new foreign policy challenge: the reconstruction of weak or failed States.

The decline of the idea of strategic planning

Now given a broad assessment of the practical problems associated with the missions of nation-building. They usually have a protracted, difficult and expensive, and success requires endless choice in favour of dirty, violent, repressive action – and this is hardly something that will remain resilient in times of fiscal austerity. But the last decade also gave rise to doubts about the correctness of this concept.

The threat posed by weak and failed States, for example, was less direct, more ambiguous and elusive than originally thought.The index of failed States 2013 according to the version of "ForeignPolicy" is not just a registry of national security priorities; of the first 20 weak countries, only a few (Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan) can boast of its geostrategic importance, mostly because of their connection with terrorism. But even the threat of terrorism is not very correlated with the current roster of weak States; only one of the first 20, Sudan, is on the list of Department of state, lists of state sponsors of terrorism and most other weak States have at best only a tenuous tie to terrorism.

The lack of clear definitions introduced a second problem. There was never a coherent set of factors that define a failed state. As was stated by political scientist Charles Call in convincing the 2008 amendment, the concept as a result began to represent "the totality of the various criteria of" working through "nakidyvaniya cap covers not comparable problems, each of which requires specially designed solutions." This significant methodological shortcoming of many years has introduced distortions in the mission of nation-building, as external forces were forced to use the standard, universal solutions in very different contexts.

These dangers were never unique property of weak States; in fact, campaign on state building may not necessarily be mitigated. Let's take the terrorism. The most effective terrorists, as a rule, it is a product of the middle class, often immigrants from countries such as Saudi Arabia, Germany and the United Kingdom, not impoverished citizens of failed States. And groups of terrorists operating in fragile States can move their operational bases: if Afghanistan becomes too risky, they can be removed and move to Somalia, Yemen and even in Europe. As a result of "stabilization" three or four sources of extremist violence will not lead to a reliable protection of the United States. The same can be said about such threats as organized crime, which finds favourable conditions for their activities in functioning but troubled countries in Asia, Eastern Europe and Latin America.

As noted scholar Stewart Patrick in 2006, the study alleged threats emanating from weak States, "it is striking how little empirical evidence underpins these assertions and policy developments. Analysts and policymakers have simply assumed the existence of the relationship between the weakness of the state and threats to national security for developed countries and started to give recommendations and to make policy responses".

And even if the interconnectedness and interdependence may create risks, the dangers in such a world, most likely, come from strong, well-managed countries with imperfect administrative regulation, rather than weak, with poor management. Financial instability, which could shake the foundations of the leading States, and cyber attacks that could destabilize the energy and information networks, are more direct and persistent risks than, say, terrorism.

The third problem is the unwarranted confidence in the possibility of the feasibility of the mission in practice. The last decade reminded of their tragic events that forced nation-building can not simply be carried out by third-party subjects any rational or authentic way. When social order becomes difficult to adapt to the globalization processes of the world – when the controls are weak, personalized, or kleptocratic; corruption is threatening, and the rule of law was conspicuous by its absence – there is simply no reliable ways to carry out the major social, political, economic and cultural reform.

How to write an Australian political scientist Michael Wesley in his brilliant essay in 2008, the weakness of the state, primarily, a political problem, and yet state building is often understood and implemented as if it was an apolitical process. "Intention to remain aloof from politics while concentrating on technocratic reforms were unrealistic, – he wrote – even seemingly technocratic tasks make the heads of international bodies, to take essentially political decisions: about the nature and basis of elections; what the political pressure groups to consult; the reintegration or de facto separation of ethnic communities; school curricula; o the share of state ownership in industrial enterprises; on the situation of women; and so on. And no matter how technocratic goals has not been the mission of nation-building, they are inevitably associated with competition at the local level".

Attempts to impose reform recalcitrant governments and societies, moreover, outside interventions undermine internal motives for reform by transferring responsibility for a better future from local leaders to external actors (actors). External force cooperation with its local clients need more than these for the sponsorship. As a result there is a paradox which complicates the implementation of reforms. As demonstrated success stories from South Korea to Chile, the States themselves should go from a weakness to his strength, gradually and with interruptions, often under the influence of strong, decisive leadership from visionary architects of state power. It's an organic, social process which must take into account unique social, cultural, economic, political, and religious contexts of each country. And although reform can be inspired and even moderately modified, with the financial support and pressure from the outside, it cannot be imposed.

The fourth problem with the obsession with state-building is that it has distorted the understanding of the United States its main goal and role in global politics. Ever since the Second World war, the United States has made strong efforts to guarantee the stability of the international system. They did, knocked together in military alliances to protect its friends and deter its enemies, by helping construct a global architecture of trade and Finance and ensuring the safety of the global global Commons. These actions helped to strengthen the interdependent system of States, which see their predominant interest in stability, not conquest.

This role requires sustained attention at all levels of government, in part to build the relationships needed for crisis management, diplomacy and multilateral cooperation of all types. In fact, today the main danger in the international system is the risk that under the weight of competition and distrust, for which there are a lot of reasons, the system will collapse into separate parts and the geopolitical chaos. The U.S. experience since the 1990s, and growing a growing number of facts observed in North-East Asia, suggest that if the relatively stable post-cold war go into interstate rivalry, it is the cause of this will not be a weak state, and the escalating regional ambitions, long-standing historical grievances, violent flourishing of nationalism and the increasing competition of States. Thus, the U.S. role in combating the growing disintegration tendencies of the system is crucial. The United States is the reliance of a number of important alliances and networks; they provide the leadership and attractive force for many global diplomatic initiatives, and their dominant military position helps to eliminate thoughts of aggression in many countries of the world.

Obsession with weak countries have diverted attention from such aspirations and made it more likely conventional threats. Focusing on two seemingly endless wars and half a dozen other potential "stability operations environment in the country" has reduced the U.S. involvement in global Affairs, and a weakening of diplomatic creativity, and distracted U.S. officials from the U.S. response to changes in the global landscape.

When you read the memoirs of the Bush administration, a dozen or more leading global issues beyond Afghanistan, Iraq and the fight against terrorism are starting to sound like background noise. The highest officials of the USA, apparently, spent significantly more time from 2003 to 2011, for example, understanding in a troubled mess of Iraqi politics than fostering relationships with key global powers. As a result, high-ranking officials had less time for cultivation of the leaders of rising regional powers, from Brazil to India and Turkey. Sometimes actions and America's need for adventures with the construction of the States have directly undermined other important relationships or diplomatic initiatives, when Washington was faced with political opposition to the Iraq war around the world.

Such shift in politics typical of the era of state building: secondary issues become dominant. To be fair, it was partly the error of the process of globalization; round the clock coverage of events by the media now constantly pushes the problems of peace in the first place in the daily agenda of national leaders. Coupled with the U.S. view of ourselves as the indispensable nation, this Intrusive perception has created political pressure, which makes the solution of problems of local value was equal to the fundamental interests of the United States. And yet, this is precisely the problem: U.S. perceptions of global threats and the responsibility of countries for their decision was erroneous and perhaps permanently unbalanced. Stock strategic attention of the great powers are not infinite. And the United States found itself in a difficult geopolitical position, apparently uninterested in a Grand strategic initiatives or transformation of diplomacy, because their attention is constantly jumping from one crisis to another.

The fifth problem directly follows from the fourth. To perform its global stabilizing role, the United States needs appropriately organized, trained and equipped armed forces – forces capable of providing global presence to dominate in terms of the probability of conflict between developed States and to be capable of quick strike, long range and counter, as well as to create and maintain the capacity of their partners at the local level. The mission of nation-building have created a bias in operations, training, equipping and self-esteem of the U.S. army, distracting her from these tasks.

A large part of U.S. troops a decade, focusing on nation building and the punitive action, especially of training and doctrine, in partial disregard for more traditional tasks. Substantial funding was also provided for equipment for kontrpartiya struggle, for example, on armored vehicle (MRAP), designed to protect U.S. troops from improvised explosive devices. These billions of dollars have been obtained at the expense of reduction of other articles on the national security. As a result of this choice was weakened capabilities the United States army for more geostrategic, and, ultimately, more important roles. Between the demand for quick response, needs to carry out retrofitting, switching from one mission to another, and a bias in learning towards kontrpartiya of action, U.S. forces, especially land, has lost much of its professionalism in regard to conduct full-scale combat operations. Simply put, today the U.S. troops would be in much better condition – would be more consistent with the performance by US of its most important roles would be better trained to perform their traditional missions, would be better equipped when entering into a new period of austerity – if the bias towards state-building did not happen.

An alternative model

This does not mean that concern for the problems posed by weak or failing States can or should disappear entirely from the agenda of foreign policy and national security of the United States. The counter-terrorism and related challenges are undoubtedly important, and in most areas of the Middle East – including Afghanistan after 2014 – a domestic disturbance may have external consequences, requiring some response from Washington. Effective power on the ground, of course, will contribute to the stability and development, and the United States , if possible, should do what they can for their care. The difference will probably be in the priorities that Washington will take such efforts. A guide to military strategy 2012, for example, reflects the view that "the armed forces of the United States will no longer be determined by conducting large-scale, prolonged stability operations environment," and declares the intention to pursue "innovative, low-cost approaches with limited coverage" to achieve the goals. Recently, the Vice Chairman of the joint chiefs of staff Admiral James "sandy" Winnefeld went even further: "I just don't know where threaten the security interests of our nation so much that it made us in the future to lead the large and prolonged campaign protivoprotosanoe wrestling".

In the future the United States are likely to rely less on power projection and more on domestic preparedness, replacing the persistent civilizing zeal with defensive self-protection. This makes sense, because the most appropriate answer to the dangers inherent in the era of interdependence and turbulence is domestic resilience of the country protected and developed energy and information networks, focusing on local or regional self-sufficiency to reduce the cascading effects of systemic shocks, developed means to respond to the emergency and tools to ensure cyber security, sufficient investments to respond to the pandemic and so on. It is equally important to have a flexible attitude of mind to perceive disruption as something inevitable and not as a disaster, and to resist the urge to overreact. In this sense, the global response to the recent surge in pirate – partly because of the weakness of African States – should be taken as a model: there are no missions on state building and provision of ships in danger, armament and protection.

When the world need to address issues associated with weak States, the United States should rely on gradual improvement through the provision of permanent, long-term support and advice based on such activities as direct economic assistance tailored to local needs; training, exchanges, and other programs of human capital development; communication between the military, the policy of trade and investment, and so on. The motto of such activities should be patience, gradualism, responses adapted to local circumstances: ensuring effective state management through a variety of models, in tune with local customs and needs-based advice and support.

While weak States continue to generate specific threats, such as terrorism, the United States is now more limited tools to mitigate them. The United States can, for example, to give terrorism the attention it deserves, having conducted a police operation, and to continue working together with foreign power services. They can assist in training and provision of such services, as well as local military units, to wage this fight against terrorism. If necessary, they can use targeted enforcement tools – classic intelligence work and clandestine operations, raids by special forces, and, with far greater selectivity than today, fire strikes long-range – to reflect the particular threats, ideally in close cooperation with the armed forces of local allies.

Some will argue that US officials will never be able to abandon the "forwarding" state building because events may force back again this approach in the agenda. If al-Qaeda make an attack planned in the restored main base of the Taliban in Afghanistan after 2014, or the fragmentation and radicalization of the Pakistani society will jeopardize nuclear arms control, some will recommend a return to an interventionist nation-building. But after the recent experience of the United States, it is unlikely that such a call will cause a good resonance.

The idea of a neo-Imperial mission to strengthen weak States and stabilize chaotic societies always was at odds with the more important U.S. global roles and real mechanisms of social transformation. You should still work in such contexts, but more judiciously and legibly. The transition from the civilizing mission will, in turn, will make possible the implementation of more sustainable and effective national security strategy, allowing the United States will once again focus on the roles and missions that mean so much more to lasting peace and security. One of the advantages of this change, ironically, is to allow local authorities to develop a more organic and authentic way, at its own discretion and at your own pace. And first of all, this new mindset will reflect a sober look at the reality after a decade of distraction.

Michael J. Mazarr



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