May 04, 2006
Sudan Tops Failed States Index
Another season another report. A failed states index compiled by the US Foreign Policy magazine and the US-based Fund for Peace think-tank places Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo atop the list.
How on earth Sudan managed to rank four places ahead of Iraq is baffling. It is understandable that there is more human flight from Sudan than there is from Iraq but apart from that criterion it is difficult to see how Sudan can come up trumps. It seems that the Darfur affair has managed to propel the entire country into total abject failure. Even further into the realm of the absurd is Somalia's ranking at number six. A country that has no central unifyingl government and one airport runway mainly used by small planes carrying qat can hardly defy the failed state tag for six consecutive positions. At least the Sudanese government has a website, one that has not been updated for several months I must add, but still someone got their act together and set one up.
Oh well, the test was based on 'tens of thousands of articles' that were gathered over several months and reviewd by many experts, sound just as feeble as one of the summaries on the Sudanese government website that states that 'the cabinet discussed different issues-read news'.
Posted by Meph at May 4, 2006 12:53 PM
Filed Under: Political Development
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This list is a real joke. Pakistan is worse off than Afghanistan? I would hate to live in Pakistan, but at least it has an economy beyond opium growing, not to mention an average life expectancy 20 years greater than Afghanistan.
Posted by: Tequila at May 4, 2006 01:33 PM
a look at the indicators used shows that this is a classic public/int'l policy wank-fest. on indicator 12 "Intervention of Other States or External Actors" somalia get's only 8.5 points (as opposed to sudan's 9.8, or also pakistan's 9.2 or, strangely enough, serbia&montenegro's 7.5 - hello kosovo???) since there are no foreign troops on the ground. so ... the int'l community giving up on a place & letting it rot means "less of a failed state". whatever ...
if you look at the list ... there are some more surprises: pakistan on #9 BEFORE afghanistan on #10, yemen on #16, egypt on #31 & syria on #33 before bosnia&herzegovina on #35. my absolute favorite, however, is russia on #43 BEFORE (i.e. worse than) such strong states as eritrea (#54), moldova (#58 - last time i checked transdnyestria is still [after over 10 years] not controlled by the central government), azerbaijan (#60 - someone must've forgotten about those 20% of azerbaijan occupied by armenia), and lebanon at #65 (HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!) with israel only 2 rungs higher up the ladder on #67! all of those mentioned so far are "more failed" than that paragon of stability ... algeria at #72.
i'll stop here ... i'm sure everyone's got the picture.
see - this happens when you judge political entities by "measurable statistical indicators" which you then simply add together.
in the light of the recent discussion on aqoul/lounsbury let me just quote the associated country report on sudan:
"Group grievance increased dramatically from a 7.8 in the FSI 2005 to a 9.7 in the FSI 2006 due to the continuing violence, which the U.S. described as genocide, in the Darfur region, where government-sponsored Arab militias have been killing black Sudanese. Both the government forces and the rebel groups in Darfur are Muslim." [emphasis mine]
nuff said ...
Posted by: raf* at May 4, 2006 01:46 PM
Political bollocks, although the analytical framework seems okay.
Posted by: The Lounsbury at May 4, 2006 01:47 PM
Actually, the methodology seems really interesting after a closer look.
Re Pakistan/Afghanistan - the scores were very close and likely reflect shared problems (with varying degrees of severity).
Perhaps the term 'failed states' is not the most precise descriptor of what is being studied here.
Posted by: eerie at May 4, 2006 02:07 PM
dear L & e,
i do find it problematic to claim to be able to quantitatively measure those indicators.
for instance, indicator 7 is "Criminalization and/or Delegitimization of the State" with the sub-indicators given as:
* Massive and endemic corruption or profiteering by ruling elites
* Resistance of ruling elites to transparency, accountability and political representation
* Widespread loss of popular confidence in state institutions and processes, e.g., widely boycotted or contested elections, mass public demonstrations, sustained civil disobedience, inability of the state to collect taxes, resistance to military conscription, rise of armed insurgencies
* Growth of crime syndicates linked to ruling elites
how does anyone want to measure that? last time i checked, there aren't "confidence meters" or statistics for "crime syndicates linked to ruling elites".
there simply isn't enough solid data for most of the countries on the list, and particularly for the "weak" ones.
i do find this list completely useless for pretty much anything. it seems that people still believe they can compute when a country is going to fall apart. yaaaaaaaaawn ...
Posted by: raf* at May 4, 2006 02:28 PM
azerbaijan (#60 - someone must've forgotten about those 20% of azerbaijan occupied by armenia)
Oh, but I actually interviewed a political officer from the Armenian Embassy once re: Nagrno-Karabagh, and he absolutely insisted that Armenia is not occupying any portion of Azerbaijan; the conflict is simply the liberation struggle of the Karabagh ethnic Armenians against their Azeri occupiers. In which Armenia, as a state, plays absolutely no role beyond moral support, no sirree.
Posted by: Eva Luna at May 4, 2006 02:48 PM
yeah ... just like the jewish liberation of hebron from their palestinian occupiers ... ah, that list is endless ...
ps: but seriously - could someone please explain the usefulness of a list like this & how the analytical framework is "okay"? i would really like to know.
Posted by: raf* at May 4, 2006 02:51 PM
The criteria and sub criteria etc are all intriguing and insightful enough, however, there seems to be a dead end when one tries to find out how these are actually computed. CAST software is presented as the method through which these criteria are processed but how does it work? Let us assume for argument's sake that there is some quantitative data, polls of confidence loss etc, what exactly is the formula?
I am loving STINGS though,
# Surprises (e.g., currency collapse)
# Triggers (e.g., assassinations, coup d'etats)
# Idiosyncrasies (e.g., non-contiguous territory, a deference to authority)
# National Temperaments (e.g., cultural or religious perspectives)
# Spoilers (e.g., disgruntled followers, excluded parties)
Never heard such a bunch of Orwellian Newspeak bullshit in my life.
Posted by: Meph at May 4, 2006 03:04 PM
Where did the G go?
Posted by: Tom Scudder at May 4, 2006 03:14 PM
It was vaporised.
Posted by: Meph at May 4, 2006 03:37 PM
A bit off topic-
... where government-sponsored Arab militias have been killing black Sudanese.
As opposed to less black sudanese? milk chocolate?
Sudan has one of the most interesting black/white schemes.
Posted by: Trevely at May 7, 2006 03:02 PM
more off topic...
perhaps if the current Mayor of New Orleans looses, he can go to Sudan. he seems to enjoy chocolate places.