About ten days ago, I wrote about the "failed states" of central America, and why they can't rein in illegal immigration from their people - because they're not capable of governing themselves effectively. Now Strategy Page writes about failed states around the world, and how they got that way.
Why do some parts of the world seem to defy efforts to achieve any degree of unity and peace? Not just for years or decades but for generations and as long as anyone can remember. The worst of these nations (like Afghanistan, Yemen, Libya and Somalia) seem to actively avoid peace, prosperity and unity and finding solutions for their problems seems futile. But when you step back and take a closer look you find that all these countries have lots in common, aside from being “failed states.” All are largely Moslem and all have serious problems with governing themselves. This spotlights the fact that Moslems in general and Arabs in particular have developed a peculiar relationship with democracy in an attempt to cure these longstanding problems. The list of failed states grows longer if you include those who, on paper, maintain their unity but are chronically chaotic and unpleasant (0r worse) to live in. These include Sudan (and the recently created South Sudan), Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, most African nations and, in the Americas, perpetually chaotic Haiti.
Many of the failed states were never unified nations with effective governments. Most African nations never existed as such in the past but were created after a century of so of European colonial efforts that ended in the 1960s and 70s. The colonial powers leaving, usually willingly as they came to realize that these colonies were expensive to administer and would take a long time to develop prosperous enough economies to be self-sustaining. Unity was an even more difficult problem. When the Europeans left there were nearly a thousand different tribal/linguistic/cultural groups in sub-Saharan Africa. This plethora of cultural identities were the main reason there were few unified states, like ancient Ethiopia, in the region. There had been local kingdoms but they rarely lasted long because of the preference for kin based government based on clans or tribes. Nations with borders was considered a novel, and alien, idea. But the colonial period showed it could work and since the 1960s several African states, like Botswana and the island state of Seychelles and Cape Verde have remained unified, peaceful and prospering.
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The failed Moslem states were another matter because they had a lot of cultural unity but forming effective (prosperous, stable) governments was another matter ... A majority of Moslems still think democracy is the best form of government, but a quarter of Moslems also believe that democracy may be unsuitable for Moslem countries at this time. This disappoints and confuses many Moslems. They can see that democracy creates superior results where it has been established, but the process of getting democracy to work reliably is a lot harder and more difficult than many Moslems originally believed. This is largely because of some unique problems in Moslem states.
One of these intractable problems is opposition from some Islamic conservatives. This is made worse because many Arabs believe what Islamic terror groups preaches, that the world should be ruled by an Islamic religious dictatorship, and that this must be achieved by any means necessary. That includes using lethal force against non-Moslems and Moslems who don’t agree.
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That’s not the only problem. Arabs, in particular, [have a] fondness for paranoid fantasies and an exaggerated sense of persecution and entitlement. For example, most Arabs believe that the September 11, 2001 attacks were not carried out by Arabs, but were a CIA scam, to provide an excuse for the West to make war on Islam. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. U.S. troops in Iraq were amazed at the number of fantastical beliefs that were accepted as reality there. Currently it is popular to believe that ISIL was created by Israel and the United States and ISIL continues to survive because of continued supported by Americans and Israelis.
Then there is the corruption and intense hatreds. It’s a very volatile and unpredictable part of the world, and always has been.
There's much more at the link. Highly recommended reading.
It's interesting - and scary - to see how many of the factors identified in the article are at work in Central and South America. We're not just dealing with illegal immigration from that continent, but the consequences of the failure of so many of its nation states for so long.
Strategy Page frequently has interesting articles like this one, analyzing a background issue that underlies many modern problems and making the latter more understandable. If you're interested in geopolitical and military matters, and you haven't already bookmarked it for regular reading, you should.