Africa, Asia Dominate 2012 “Failed States” Index
Foreign Policy is out today with its 8th annual Failed States index and, as you can see from the map above, the vast majority of these states are in Africa and Asia. In fact, of the twenty nations labeled “failed states,” only four — Colombia, Bolivia, The Philippines, and Papua New Guinea — are not located on those two continents. Walter Russell Mead makes this observation:
Particularly dismal is data on Africa’s broken public services, uneven development, and lawless security forces. Years after independence, a truly massive amount of aid has been sent to complement the continent’s vast mineral resources, and there is still precious little to show for it.
Asia is also straggling: countries such as Nepal, East Timor, Laos and Burma rank distressingly high in areas such as economic decline and the weakening of the state.
There are some surprises; Argentina, for example, is rated as better off than Brazil. The recent turmoil in Greece doesn’t seem fully reflected, either.
Still, the map reminds us that the world remains a wild and unsettling place. The 21st century is unlikely to be a calm and soothing time.
The other thing worth noting of course, is the stretch of failed states that begins in Lebanon and Syria and stretches west and north into Uzbekistan. Not surprisingly, the most dangerous part of the world is currently filled with states that are essentially nations in name only.
As for the Africa situation, one has to think that the fate of Africa is at least in part due to the often arbitrary borders that were drawn at the end of the Colonial Era, borders that didn’t necessarily reflect political, ethnic, or tribal realities. That, combined with unrelenting poverty and a continent that seems unable to support its vast and growing population (currently estimated at one billion people divided among 56 countries), means that for the most part Africa has become an international backwater of neglect and is likely to remain so for quite some time, unless Africans themselves step up to the challenge of creating a better life.
Of course, the other thing to keep in mind is that failed states are often the breeding ground for forces that can cause serious problems for the rest of the world. Based on land mass alone, we’ve got a lot of breeding territory out there, folks.