Failed states: The fruits of regime change


ACCORDING to US think tank, Fund for Peace, common indicators of a failed state include a state whose central government is so weak or ineffective that it has little practical control over much of its territory, non provision of public services, widespread corruption and criminality.
Interestingly, around this time last year, The Guardian ran an article that tore into the Foreign Policy magazine’s ‘Failed States Index’ produced by Fund for Peace.
In the article, “Failed states are a Western myth,” Elliot Ross argues that the criteria used to rank countries is at best dubious and questions how Kenya could have a worse rating than Syria at a time when Syria was in serious armed conflict and crisis.
It is argued that the concept of the failed state has never existed outside a programme for Western intervention.
By ranking or placing developing countries on a list titled ‘Failed States’, America constructs a rationale that allows it to intervene and impose its interests on weaker nations.
According to policy researchers, the concept of state failure has no coherent definition.
The failed state was reportedly invented in late 1992 by two US State Department employees, Gerald Helman and Steven Ratner.
In an article in the Foreign Policy magazine titled, “Saving failed States”, the two argued that with the end of the Cold War, “a new disturbing phenomenon is emerging: the failed nation state, utterly incapable of sustaining itself as a member of the international community”.
Helman and Ratner said failed states needed the ‘guardianship’ of the Western world.
Because of this background, there has been no real definition of a failed state besides that given by the US State Department employees.
The declaration that a state has failed is generally controversial and when made ‘authoritatively’ carries significant geopolitical consequences.
States fail not only because of internal factors, but foreign governments knowingly destabilise states by fuelling ethnic warfare or supporting rebel forces, causing it to collapse.
America has done its fair share in creating failed states.
Ambassador Carlo Ungaro, a retired Italian senior diplomat, wrote an article in October 2012 interrogating whether Afghanistan had become a failed state.
Drawing from his 16 years experiences in the diplomatic corps, Ungaro notes that the future of Afghanistan is uncertain and there is little reason to be optimistic.
Who can forget how America went into Afghanistan close to a decade ago, in search of Osama Bin Laden and to topple the Taliban regime.
It was to liberate the people of Afghanistan we were told, it was to bring them democracy, it was to ensure that their rights were respected, but have things really improved for the Afghan people since America’s intervention?
As the 2014 withdrawal date for American and British troops draws closer, the rhetoric coming from leading politicians about the great strides that have been made by Afghan forces has increased significantly.
In the annals of American foreign history, Afghanistan will probably be a second rate Vietnam.
American and NATO forces are going to leave behind a country where only 10 percent of its GDP of US$1 billion comes from legitimate economic activity; of the remainder, 30 percent comes from narcotic trade and 60 percent from foreign aid.
The loss of thousands of lives and billions of dollars, if not trillions, in America’s military adventure in Afghanistan has created what is perhaps one of the world’s most corrupt states.
Western politicians such as David Cameron and Barack Obama along with other members of NATO hailed themselves for a successful campaign to oust murdered Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.
Three years later, writing for Global Research in early April this year, Alexander Arfaoui, wrote that the West’s intervention in Libya has created a failed state.
Libya is now run by the very extremist militia that were supported and armed by the West to carry out an illegal regime change operation.
The Libyan parliament agrees on very little, the government, if you can call it that has no army to enforce security, let alone impose its will.
The country’s borders are porous and its waters are unguarded.
Violence is rife, tribal rivalries are fermenting chaos and confusion at the least, illegal arms are awash.
When a government is incapable of protecting the very people it is serving, then that government has failed.
A few days ago, the Telegraph carried an article, in which one commentator says, when America arrived in Iraq, the Iraqis thought, “Wow, our country is going to turn into Dubai overnight.”
Unfortunately that has not happened, Iraq is no Dubai; it is a disaster. Analysis of what has gone wrong in Iraq inevitably begins with George W Bush and Tony Blair.
Bush went into Iraq to settle a personal score.
“He tried to kill my daddy,” was Bush’s reason for going after Saddam Hussein. Regime change was his goal and he was not ashamed to publicly declare this. Blair’s aim was the same, but he needed legal authority to join Bush on this mission.
The rest is history from doggy dossiers, grainy pictures at the United Nations and the still missing weapons of mass destruction.
President Obama has declared the war in Iraq over, but the reality is that on the ground it is still very much on.
Increasingly the US now relies on drones for its military operations.
Drones cannot build nations or better systems of government.
Basic services in Iraq are nothing to write home about where they are available.
Security is non-existent.
Sectarian violence is out of control, entire populations have been displaced and the threat of terrorism is increasing.


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