I had a friend that tried to write a book about the cities with over 25 million in residence in the World. The USA has none and none expected this century. Not true elsewhere. These essentially are city states although nominally under the rule of various nation states. Tokyo for example has almost 40 million of the citizens in Japan in its extended metro area. Somehow these cities work even if limping along.
But so-called FAILED STATES have been identified referring to nation-states. Of the 177 member states of the UN 20 have been identified as failures. Perhaps not surprisingly both Afghanistan and Pakistan appear on that list. Pakistan of course is a member of the nuclear weapons club. Iran, however, is not a failed state by any definition.
Still the concept of FAILED STATE fascinates me for its early warning potential.
The term failed state is often used by political commentators and journalists to describe a state perceived as having failed at some of the basic conditions and responsibilities of a sovereign government. In order to make this definition more precise, the following attributes, proposed by the Fund for Peace, are often used to characterize a failed state:
- loss of control of its territory, or of the monopoly on the legitimate use of physical force therein,
- erosion of legitimate authority to make collective decisions,
- an inability to provide public services, and
- an inability to interact with other states as a full member of the international community.
Often a failed nation is characterized by social, political, and/or economic failure.
Common characteristics of a failing state include a central government so weak or ineffective that it has little practical control over much of its territory; non-provision of public services; widespread corruption and criminality; refugees and involuntary movement of populations; and sharp economic decline.
The level of government control required to avoid being considered a failed state varies considerably amongst authorities. Furthermore, the declaration that a state has “failed” is generally controversial and, when made authoritatively, may carry significant geopolitical consequences.