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8 Whitehead J. Dipl. & Int'l Rel. 85 (2007)
Fixing Failing States: The New Security Agenda

handle is hein.journals/whith8 and id is 85 raw text is: Fixing Failing States: The New Security
by Pauline H. Baker
Weak and failing states rank among the world's greatest threats to international
peace and security today. While major threats to world peace used to come mainly
from ideological, military, or economic competition among competing states, in
modern times lethal threats are growing within states from communal tensions
among rival factions, extremists groups with radical political agendas, and faltering
regimes clinging to power and asserting militaristic ambitions. These are the driving
forces of a growing world disorder.'
Recent events highlight this paradigm shift in the strategic environment. North
Korea is a failing state with an inward-looking regime and a negative view of the
world. Its own insecurities, including its fear of a US invasion, are motivating it to
pursue nuclear capabilities that have increased its isolation further and exacerbated
tensions.2 Lebanon is a weak state that successfully cast off fifteen years of Syrian
military occupation, but was unable to assert its sovereignty and fill the vacuum left
behind. Hezbollah used that opportunity to assert itself as a state within a state,
with dual power bases in the government and in the south, where its autonomous
security forces launched a devastating war with Israel in July 2006. Then there is
Sudan, a country with the highest risk of internal violence that has stonewalled
effective international action to stop the continuing humanitarian crisis in Darfur,
described by the US State Department as genocide.3 Internal weaknesses within
these states have increased the threat of nuclear proliferation, precipitated an
interstate war, and worsened an ongoing humanitarian crisis, respectively.
Though the origins of state weakness go back decades, the curtain was raised on
the era of failing states-if one can call it that-by the tragedy of September 11,
2001. One year after the biggest terrorist attack on the US in histor); the 2002 US
National Security Strategy stated that America is threatened more by failing states
than it is by conquering states, overturning decades of US national security thinking.
Overnight, we went from looking at security through a big power lens to seeing it
from a small power lens. Much of the rest of the world has come to see security
challenges from that perspective as well.
Dr. Pauline H. Baker is president of The Fund for Peace, an independent educational and
research organization based in Washington DC. She is also a professorial lecturer at The Johns
Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.
The Whitehead Journal of Dolomagy and International Relations

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