Failed States

Investigation of Failed States & Democratic InterventionFailed states have been an issue in human society for many years. Today there are a total of 177 failed states, which is an all-time high. (Haken) Failed states are not only a terrible situation for the country itself, but for its neighboring countries as well. Some situations are worse than others, but for the most part they all share several factors that classify them as failed states. These factors include a severe economic decline, lack of formal government, deterioration of public services, social disorder, and more. (Haken)

Once a country becomes classified as a failed state it is quite difficult for them to fully recover. For this to happen, assistance from allies and neighboring countries is usually necessary. Obviously nobody wants to see a country’s government overrun and its citizens forced into turmoil, but that is unfortunately the way our society operates with radical militant groups such as Al-Qaeda in existence. It has become a global problem and the day may never come when there are no failed states. However, if groups such as Al-Qaeda and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) can be eliminated then these failed states can begin to rebuild themselves and give their citizens the chance to live free, happy lives.

An example of a failed state that is making headlines these days is the country of Mali, which is located in Northern Africa. The situation in Mali began over a year ago and has developed into a very serious matter. Much like Libya in 2011, Mali’s government has been overthrown by Islamic militant groups that will do whatever it takes to spread their influence and power. (Larison)

The major group behind this invasion is known as Al-Qaeda. As Al-Qaeda forces moved in on Bamako, Mali’s capital, a French military invasion halted them in their tracks. French and Malian forces have now teamed up against “Al-Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb” (AQIM), which is Al-Qaeda’s militant organization based in Mali. (Larison) The two sides are both ready to battle one another and the situation looks to be headed towards a full-on war.

AQIM forces are invading towns and villages while torturing and killing citizens in their path. They are a strong force to be reckoned with and outside help will be needed if Mali is to rid itself of these radicals. This is where neighboring countries become involved. Countries close to Mali, such as Niger, Mauritania, and Algeria, are all looked upon to intervene and to offer aid and/or assistance to the Malians.On top of that, they are forced to live under constant fear and uncertainty of AQIM’s next move(s). Although the United States has no vital economic ties to Mali, some Americans feel obligated to intervene and offer assistance to the French, much like we did in Libya. (Larison) However, the majority of American politicians are against issuing an invasion because all signs point towards an ongoing war similar to those in Iraq and Afghanistan.

These two countries experienced this type of situation during the 2000s and Libya did as well in 2011. Libya’s situation was very similar to that of Mali’s current one. Islamic forces invaded and took control and outside help was needed from either neighboring countries or Western forces. Whatever the case may be, many parties were/are involved and too many unnecessary deaths have been recorded already. Going forward we can only hope that the situation in Mali ends up like the ones in Iraq and Libya. The only way this can happen is if the Islamic militant forces are driven out and the country has the opportunity to once again govern itself and eventually prosper.

Western intervention has been a major component of global warfare for the last 100 years. From World War I all the way through the Cold War, the United States has always been looked upon to give military assistance to its allies and anyone who holds great importance to our economy. Most recently we’ve gone to war to protect Israel in the Middle East and to aid France in Libya. (Traub) The United States has been involved economically in the Middle East since the late 1980s but became active militarily in 2001 after the 9/11 attacks. We were involved in warfare with Iraq for over a decade and are still at war with Afghanistan.

(Traub) Other notable instances of Western military intervention include our involvement in World Wars I and II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Cold War, and many other smaller wars. The United States has clearly played a crucial role in global warfare for a very long time. One major reason for this amount of military activity is the fact that the U.S. is a democracy. Non-democracy governments typically have less involvement in warfare than democratic governments do. This is because autocracies operate under the discretion of less than 20 people and often times only 1 person. Also, under a democracy a presidential order can be overturned by either the citizens or another branch of the government.

A democratic leader would most likely order a military invasion if there is an immediate threat to his/her country’s national security or if there is a very significant amount of economic importance involved in the situation. Giving assistance to allies is also a common reason for entering into a war. These have been the main reasons for American involvement in global warfare over the years. America is undoubtedly a military superpower in the eyes of the world and will most likely remain that way for many more years to come.

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Works CitedHaken, Nate. “Interpreting the Arab Spring and Its Effects.” The Fund for Peace, 28 June 2012. Web. 22 Jan. 2013. <>. Larison, Daniel. “In Mali the Domino Theory Is Real.” The American Conservative, 23 Jan. 2013. Web. 24 Jan. 2013. <>. Traub, James. “Think Again: Failed States.” Foreign Policy Magazine, Aug. 2011. Web. 22 Jan. 2013. <,0>.