Failing states and terror

America is now threatened less by conquering states than we are by failing ones. That was the conclusion of the 2002 U.S. National Security Strategy. For a country whose foreign policy in the 20th century was dominated by the struggles against powerful states such as Germany, Japan, and the Soviet Union, the U.S. assessment is striking. Nor is the United States alone in diagnosing the problem. U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan has warned that ignoring failed states creates problems that sometimes come back to bite us. French President Jacques Chirac has spoken of the threat that failed states carry for the world’s equilibrium. World leaders once worried about who was amassing power; now they worry about the absence of it.


It’s interesting how our foreign policy’s success has now turned on us.

For example – Most of the former USSR is shown as ‘borderline’ or worse on the map provided. Many of the battlegrounds of the cold war are probably worse off for the wear.

The choices made in the past effect us now. It does us no good to second guess what we did – but we should look at the results and see what our aggressive and expansionistic policies have reaped.

I agree that the destabilized areas of the world are where trouble is going to brew. In this day and age, when the US alone out spends the entire world in military spending (notice how they call it defense spending? What is up with that? If we spend more on our defense then everyone else put together, are we paranoid?) no one can stand toe to toe with us anymore. There is no battlefield that any one (or two or ten) country can defeat us on.

So, people who rebel against our mass-marketed culture take to the back alleys, the coffee shops. The meet and talk, and the really whacked out ones strap bombs on and blow themselves up in pointless gestures of defiance and misplaced rage.

The suicide bombers worry me – but the smart ones scare me. The ones that are actively plotting to destroy our culture and, it seems at times, are winning. These are the ones that talk the whacked out ones into their path of destruction. The Imams and Clerics that preach the radicalized version of Islam. The ones that create and spread the really toxic memes.

I believe that violence will only beget more violence. I do not think that guns will solve this – talking will. But how do you convince some one that thinks your entire belief system and way of live is a puss-filled ulcer on a otherwise godly earth that they are wrong? How do you teach them tolerance? Can you? Should you even try, or should you just take the short term solution, the quick fix?

I do not pretend to have the answer to these questions. I question our current policy, however I do not have any better ideas. Talking is not an option, as they believe that we will simple lie to them. Money is not an option, as many of them come from well off families.

There are no easy solutions.

4 thoughts on “Failing states and terror”

  1. How many Americans feel that Western Society is decadent and immoral and we should seek to change it?

    Pretty much the entire religious right and the entire left feel that way.

    It seems surprising that so few British Muslims agree.

  2. I totally agree that we are better off with the end of the cold war. The end of the USSR? I do not know. It’s hard to say – but they certainly kept their region stable. I do not have a plan that would have worked, but I think that anytime we look at the collapse of a large state, like the USSR or Rome, we look at some very interesting times. Interesting times not really being what we want to have happen.

    As to the mass market consumerism – there was a <a href=";sSheet=/news/2005/07/23/ixnewstop.html&quot; rel="nofollow">poll</a> done in Britain recently (after 7/7/05) that shows

    <blockquote>nearly a third of British Muslims, 32 per cent, are far more censorious, believing that "Western society is decadent and immoral and that Muslims should seek to bring it to an end".</blockquote>

    This is not a war of bullets and guns and bombs – they are simply the tools. This is a war of ideas and ideology. What culture will survive on into the 22nd century.

    Every time we drop a bomb, or kill a muslim, more of them start to swing towards radicalism. Only they can stop it. But how do we convince them that they need to? That is the question that will win this ‘war’.

    But, if given the choice between the lives of innocents and a suicide bomber, I would protect the bystanders. I think that this is the greatest challenge that faces us. This is the challenge that will make our generation the greatest in American history, or the ones that lost it all.

    How do you protect yourself against people that are willing to use random force and die in the process, with out further alienating his peers?

    If we look at Israel and the Palestinians – every time one side kills some one on the other side, the other side decides that they need to exact retribution, and kill someone. Ever escalating cycle of death.

  3. Despite the danger of failed states, I still think we are better off with the end of the Soviet Union.

    While we are probably more in danger of a nuclear attack now, we are much less in danger of a nuclear war that renders the planet unlivable. That was a real possibility during the cold war, indeed I remember believing it was a ‘when’ not an ‘if’.

    I also don’t think it is a rebellion against our ‘mass market culture’ I think the rebellion is different, both more complex and simpler than that.

    I also don’t agree that violence never solves anything. Historically violence has in fact solved a whole lot of things.

    I hope that this can be solved without extreme violence. My faith in that is the Muslim people taking control of their destiny and wresting their faith back from the radicals who have claimed it. To do so though, they need time and space and our Military can give them that.

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