23 November 2008

When Nation-States Fail

We are in the middle of the failure and bailout of financial institutions in the US, Europe and China. There are the contemplated bailouts of the auto industry, of the State of California, and no doubt more states and industries. The country of Iceland itself is in the market for a bailout, and Iceland is not alone. What will it mean for nation-states to fail, and who will bail them out?

What we are seeing is the slow motion failure of nation-states from the third world, to the BRIC nations, and even in the developed world as in Iceland, England and France.
Entrenched corruption -- think government employees unused to financial deprivation not getting paid except by graft. An inability to govern territory and a general loss of legitimacy. A global swiss cheese effect from Mexico to Pakistan, where thousands of small holes in the global security system appear with rapidity.

A rapid increase in the number and power of criminal guerilla groups that will challenge nation-states. These groups will flourish within the ungoverned spaces that emerge, particularly in urban areas and even within the U.S. The combination of access to global markets, rapidly improving technology, and new methods of warfare mean that these groups will be ascendant militarily until successful strategies emerge to counter them.

Worst of all, these criminal guerrilla groups (collectively known as global guerrillas) will be able to generate wealth via transnational criminal networks and control political services to local populations (through both disruption and parasitically draining national infrastructures), gaining legitimacy that nation-states will not be able to provide. This means that these groups will not only emerge quickly, they will grow stronger over time. _Wired
These are warnings that Robert D. Kaplan and others have been sounding for decades. The death of the nation state from an inner corruption eating away at its heart and nerve centers. The emergence of competing organisations of a military and para-military nature capable of creating "no-go" zones where the local and national law enforcement agencies do not dare to go.

Where have we heard this before? Oh yes, Iraq, Afghanistan, Colombia ... But where US assistance helped Iraq and Colombia shrink their "no-go" zones significantly and increase areas of civil order, many nations of Europe and parts of North America themselves are becoming quasi no-go zones. The emergence and growth of religious terror cells in Europe, Canada, and Virginia, along with criminal gangs for illegal drug smuggling and distribution, spell insurrection for the first world.

As US cities perpetuate "Sanctuary Zones" for the importation and unchecked proliferation of criminal gangs, the incoming administration of the narcissist-elect promises to close the off-shore prison for terrorists in order to bring them to US soil for civil trials. The chaotic US Mexican border should be well defensed and guarded, but instead the Border Patrol is defanged and demoralised, and the construction of even a minimal border wall is stalled.

Parts of the US have had higher murder rates than Iraq virtually throughout the worst of the Baath-Sunni-Sadrist terrorism and insurrection. Under a more permissive and corruption/illegal immigration-friendly US regime, expect things to become much worse. California is asking for a federal bail-out, naturally. Michigan and New York may be next in line.

Unfortunately, the type of bailout that the current inept Congress and the narcissist-elect have in mind, will only make things steadily worse. Financial failure breeds failure of cohesiveness in a multi-ethnic nation state. Things fall apart and the central powers cannot hold, after disruptive forces reach a certain point.

Do not fail to make contingency plans.

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“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act” _George Orwell

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