Thu, 10 Jul 2003

Non-globalized states pose a threat Bush's African safari important step in dealing with the challenge

Banning N. Garrett and Dennis M. Sherman Yale Center for the Study of Globalization Washington

The most immediate threats to the interests and security of the U.S. and other globalizing nations in the 21st Century come not from each other or from rising powers but from declining states weak, failing, and rogue nations that have become havens for terrorists and drug lords, seekers of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), incubators of disease, nurturers of religious extremists, and demographic time bombs of growing numbers of unemployed youth. President Bush's current visit to Africa can best be understood as part of a broader attempt to deal with the challenges emanating from these weak, failing and rogue states that have risen to the top of the U.S. national security agenda.

While Globalization has created greater prosperity for states that have successfully integrated into the process, (See "The Poor Like Globalization") most states that have failed to effectively participate in globalization or have intentionally sought to isolate their countries from the process, have fallen farther behind. Weak and failing states are generally characterized by incomplete control over their national territories, an inability to provide basic services, a lack of legitimacy in the eyes of their populations, and widespread corruption and criminal violence. These states also usually have deteriorating infrastructures and weak, tenuous links to globalization.

The threats posed by the weak and failing states to the international community and their own populations emanate from the weaknesses of their governments. By contrast, the threats posed by rogue states, which also may have failing economies and impoverished populations and may be disconnected from globalization, emanate from the strengths of their governments. Rogue states threaten the international community through the acquisition of WMD and pursuit of aggressive military actions against their neighbors and even sub-national groups within their own territories. Moreover, for rogue nations, WMD may be the balance of power equalizer of choice as they fall farther and farther behind economically and feel threatened by their neighbors or by the U.S.

Weak and failing states have been present at least since post- World War II de-colonization, but the salience of the threats posed by these states has increased dramatically with the technological innovations and developments spurred by globalization and finally realized so devastatingly by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the U.S.

The visibility of weak and failing states and the threats they pose had become more acute with the failure of communist and socialist policies worldwide, the demise of the Soviet Union and the end of two world economies (the U.S.-led capitalist economy versus the Soviet-led communist-bloc economy), which resulted in the acceleration of globalization. The end of the Cold War superpower competition in the Third World also led to the termination of U.S. and Soviet subsidies for Third World client regimes, which, in many ways, disguised these regimes' failure to build viable governments and economies.

The threats posed by failing states have been exacerbated by the unparalleled empowerment of small groups of non-state actors, including terrorists, who have access to modern technologies, including both highly destructive weapons and communications and information systems. This empowerment of individuals and small groups has combined with the inability of failing states to control such groups operating and recruiting disaffected elements to terrorist causes within their borders.

Ease of travel and communication in the closely integrated world enables terrorist groups to increasingly act globally. The U.S. and other major powers are now vulnerable to attacks planned and executed from bases thousands of miles away from the terrorists' homeland as was the case with al-Qaeda's Sept. 11 operations from Afghanistan.

All of these trends have led to a new fuzzy bipolarity between the world of order, prosperity, relative stability and increasing interdependence and the world of growing disorder, economic decline, and instability. The latter consist of weak, failing and rogue nations that are far less connected with and benefiting far less -- if at all -- from the globalization process.

Despite the Bush administrations more aggressive stance and its unilateral use of force in dealing with threats from such states on the margin, the U.S. and all other participating states in globalization, face a strategic straightjacket that almost obligates them to cooperate rather than use force against each other. The Bush Administration's National Security Strategy (NSS) tacitly acknowledges this strategic shift.

The NSS asserts that the threat to the U.S. and the world community does not emanate from the prospect of conflict among the world's great powers, which now compete in peace instead of continually preparing for war. Rather, the great powers find themselves on the same side, united by the common dangers of terrorist violence and chaos as well as WMD proliferation that emanate from failing and rogue states.

Although the Bush administration has called for global cooperation to meet these threats, international support for its actions and policies has been severely weakened by perceptions of U.S. arrogance and unilateralism and growing anti-Americanism. Indeed, the Bush administration's perceived unilateralism and more aggressive military posture has led the elites of many countries, including some U.S. allies, to desire to counterbalance and contain U.S. power while promoting multipolarity rather than to focus on common threats.

Meeting the threats and challenges of weak and failing states requires not only international cooperation in counterterrorism and non-proliferation, but a broad and systematic international effort to help these states move from the category of the failing to the category of the succeeding. Moreover, as former British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw warned in September 2002, state failure can no longer be seen as a localized or regional issue to be managed simply on an ad hoc, case by case basis.

We have to develop a more coherent and effective international response which utilizes all of the tools at our disposal, ranging from aid and humanitarian assistance to support for institution building. In addition, Straw asserted, we need courage and foresight to bring our influence to bear at the point when a state begins to display the symptoms of failure, rather than when it is a lost cause.

Banning N. Garrett is Director of Asia Programs at The Atlantic Council of the United States in Washington, D.C. Dennis M. Sherman is Professor of Business at the School of Business University of Wisconsin, Madison, and a Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council.