Iraq — Too Early To Call It A “Failed State”?

Apparently not for several peace groups:

Iraq has emerged as the world’s second most unstable country, behind Sudan, more than four years after President George W. Bush ordered the U.S. invasion to topple Saddam Hussein, according to a survey released on Monday.

The 2007 Failed States Index, produced by Foreign Policy magazine and the Fund for Peace, said Iraq suffered a third straight year of deterioration in 2006 with diminished results across a range of social, economic, political and military indicators. Iraq ranked fourth last year.

The index said Sudan, the world’s worst failed state, appears to be dragging down its neighbors Central African Republic and Chad, with violence in the Darfur region responsible for at least 200,000 deaths and the displacement of 2 million to 3 million.

Now, I’ve got a couple of issues with their methodology, which I’ll get to in a second. But 4 years after the invasion of Iraq, it’s tough to find a way to classify it as a success. It might be a mixed bag, where some aspects are improved while others have deteriorated. But I don’t think anyone can call it a success.

Perhaps Iraq still has a chance. But indicators are heading towards the idea that a single-state solution in Iraq requires a firm hand to sustain. Saddam Hussein provided that firm hand, and was a monster in the process. Right now we’re attempting to do so, but without the brutality of his regime. After us, it will require a firm hand by the Iraqi government and military. But a state that requires military intervention to avoid widespread bloodshed isn’t a success.

Of course, students of government should have expected this. The entity which can’t be trusted to reliably deliver the mail, has been attempting to fight the wars on drugs and poverty for over 30 years with no success, is hardly to be expected to step into a foreign culture and remake it from the ground up. Especially when their construction tools are fighter/bombers and mechanized infantry. Not to mention their weapon of mass destruction, the U.S. Department of State. If you want to see something fail, get the US government involved. Thus, it’s not a surprise that both Iraq and Afghanistan are high on the list.

As mentioned, though, that brings me to a bit of criticism of the article. The article is written by left-wing peace groups, and the methodology shows that they’re enamored with strong government, a fondness which I do not share:

The authors of the index said one of the leading benchmarks for failed state status is the loss of physical control of territory or a monopoly on the legitimate use of force.

Other attributes include the erosion of legitimate authority, an inability to provide reasonable public services and the inability to interact with other states as a full member of the international community.

Considering that I vacillate between the desire to get rid of 96% percent of the government and to get rid of a full 100% of it, I would like to see a situation where nobody has a “monopoly on the use of force”, and “legitimate authority” is competitive and voluntary.

That being said, the neocon’s goal isn’t to create a lawless state, it’s to create a stable state friendly to our interests. Instead, we have a nation with a latent civil war smoldering beneath the surface, where they have so many terrorists in training that they now export them. By that measure, they have clearly failed.

  • Radical Times

    I don’t believe it is a failed state yet there is still a chance for a political solution if the Iraqis have the will.

    I saw on an ABC blog about a terrorist graduation ceremony in what must have been in Pakistan. The report said these graduates were planning on entering and attacking western countries.