The Symptoms Of A Failed State

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The Symptoms Of A Failed State

The Symptoms Of A Failed State

The concept of 'failed states' for Australia was not shaped by the September 11 attacks, unlike the US and the UK, but by the Solomon Islands intervention in 2003. Before that, and despite the war against Afghanistan, the Government said little about failing or failed states let also the idea of intervening in a failed state to fight terrorism. As late as January 2003, Mr Downer dismissing the idea of intervening in the Solomon Islands as a "folly in the extreme". "It would not work," he said, "no matter how it was dressed up ". In case the point was missed, a major Government policy paper added a few weeks later, "Australia is not a neo-colonial power.

The [Pacific] island countries are independent sovereign states". Six months later, it seems Mr Downer discovered a way to 'dress up' Australia's new-found foreign policy assertiveness. With the release of the ASPI report on the Solomon Islands, the concept of failed states apparently gave the Government the rhetoric it needed. As Tony Wright of The Bulletin explained, "It was not so much that the Solomon Islanders should have assistance foisted upon them - it was a matter of Australian security. A failed state such as the Solomons could become a danger to Australia". (Gordon 2007)

By September 2003, Mr Downer was at the UN General Assembly saying that, "It is no longer open to us to ignore the failed states … Old shibboleths - such as the excessive homage to sovereignty even at the expense of the preservation of humanity and human values - should not constrain us." This argument was reinforced in the aftermath of Prime Minister Howard's comment during the Australian Federal election period about the possibility of Australia launching a preemptive attack on foreign soil in the region against terrorists. Mr Downer quickly qualified the Prime Minister's comments so that it referred only to situations of failed or failing states rather than (presumably 'successful') states like "Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines".(Gurr 2004)

Today, confronted with a perplexing mosaic of lawlessness, violence, disease, pernicious corruption, weak institutions and massive divestment from Nigeria by notable entrepreneurial concerns, many Nigerians have enlisted dark metaphors to attempt to describe what seem to be the terminal symptoms of their statehood. In the North, amidst seething poverty, ignorance and buck-passing, the loss of faith in the state is expressed in often virulent ethno-religious violence. In the South, depraved criminality and militancy in the Niger Delta region represent outer expressions of inner contradictions of the state. At press time, the nation's archival university education system is in a quandary as the federal government battles distraught lecturers and workers in the system. (Gerd 2005)

That there is an increasingly degraded economic and social environment, and an increasingly unimportant and degraded bilateral relationships with strategic world powers, especially the United States, are real. In the West African and sub Saharan region, there is an increasing, ...
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