Focused Series »

Indo-European Origins
Northern California
The Caucasus
Imaginary Geography
Home » Archive by Category

Articles in State Failure

Oman and Yemen: So Similar, So Different…

By Martin W. Lewis | July 10, 2015 |

At first glance, Oman and Yemen almost appear to be sibling states. They fairly evenly divide the southeastern slice of the Arabian Peninsula. Both countries have extensive highlands on their opposing extremities, which receive much more rainfall than the rest of region and thus allow intensive agriculture both within the uplands themselves and in the adjacent lowlands. They share the …

Is There an Arc of Instability?

By Martin W. Lewis | October 3, 2014 | 6 Comments

In grappling with the geography of geopolitical conflict, many journalists, politicians, and military strategists use the term “arc of instability,” implying that the world’s troubled countries are arrayed along a curve. But different sources have very different ideas about how such an “arc” is configured. A recent The Wall Street Journal article (“Obama Contends With Arc of Instability Unseen Since …

Can We Map State Instability?

By Martin W. Lewis | September 28, 2014 | 5 Comments

The previous post showed that the Fragile States Index did not capture the fragility of Syria and Libya on the eve of the so-called Arab Spring. The question is then raised about the performance of other indices of state weakness in this this regard. As it turns out, they did little better.
Consider, for example, the World Bank’s 2010 map of …

The Fragility of the State Fragility Index

By Martin W. Lewis | September 25, 2014 | 2 Comments

I recently came across a “State Fragility Index Map” from 2010 that made me doubt the usefulness of the index. As a predictive measurement, its failures are obvious. Note that Syria was depicted at the time as a relatively stable state, while Libya was portrayed as quite secure. In the 2010 Index, Syria ranked 48th from the bottom (out of …

ISIS Advances and the Kurds Retreat In Northern Syria

By Martin W. Lewis | September 21, 2014 | 5 Comments

The struggle involving the Islamic State (alternatively, ISIS or ISIL) in northern and eastern Syria and northern Iraq is finally receiving abundant coverage in the global media. Today’s (Sept. 21) New York Times, for example, features several articles on the issue, focused mostly on the international complications generated by the conflict. Many publications in the U.S., however—including the Times—have either …

GeoCurrents Editorial: The Genocide of the Yezidis Begins, and the United States is Complicit

By Martin W. Lewis | August 7, 2014 | 90 Comments

(Note: GeoCurrents is still technically on summer vacation, allowing me time to catch up with other obligations that I have neglected. My recent essays on eco-modernism, written for the Breakthrough Institute, can be found here and here. I am interrupting this GeoCurrents hiatus, however, to address a highly disturbing and significant development. This post also violates the GeoCurrents policy on …

Hazara Exodus from Quetta

By Martin W. Lewis | February 10, 2012 | 3 Comments

A recent UN report indicates that the Hazara people of Quetta Pakistan are living in such terror that the entire community may abandon the country.

Conflict in the Comoros

By Martin W. Lewis | October 28, 2011 | 4 Comments
Wikipedia Map of the Invasion of Anjouan in the Comoros

Although Mayotte is a troubled island, its difficulties are minor compared to those of the other islands in the Comoro Archipelago, which collectively form an independent state. By some accounts, the Comoros is the most coup-wracked country in the world, having suffered twenty military assaults on its government since independence in 1975. Its instability is almost matched by its poverty; …

The Failure of the Failed State Index

By Martin W. Lewis | January 11, 2011 | Comments Off on The Failure of the Failed State Index

The use of the term “failed state” has surged over the past fifteen years, as can be seen in the Google N-Gram posted above showing the frequency of the term’s occurrence in scanned books. A January 8, 2011 Google news search for “failed state” yielded—in the first twelve articles alone—stories on Sudan, Mexico, Egypt

Is Belgium a Failed State? Does It Matter?

By Martin W. Lewis | January 9, 2011 | One Comment

News stories have been coming out for months on the continuing failure of Belgium to form a government after the June 2010 election. On January 6, 2011, the BBC announced that two Flemish parties were yet again demanding “adjustments” to a compromise plan crafted by the mediator of the Belgian king. On the face

Militias, Private Armies, and Failed States

By Martin W. Lewis | February 27, 2010 | 2 Comments

Max Weber famously defined the modern state as an entity claiming a monopoly on the legitimate use of violence to enforce order over a specific territory. By this definition, many of the countries that constitute the international geopolitical order fall well short of being genuine states. Consider Lebanon. From 1976 to 2005, a sizable

DR Congo: A Potemkin State?

By Martin W. Lewis | February 16, 2010 | 2 Comments

The ongoing war in the Democratic Republic of Congo is reputed to be the world’s deadliest conflict since World War II. Most observers estimate the death toll at around 5.4 million deaths; some figures put the toll as high as 6.9 million. One controversial 2009 report—from the Human Security Report Project of Simon Fraser University—claims

Yemen: A Failing State?

By Martin W. Lewis | December 25, 2009 | Comments Off on Yemen: A Failing State?

Concerns that Yemen could become a failed state have recently mounted. The country has a weak central government, faces separate rebellions in the north and south, and contains a considerable al Qaeda contingent. The northern rebellion attracts most international attention, as it has

?php get_sidebar(); ?>