Fragile states may play host to international terrorist organizations, as in Afghanistan or Yemen. They may be centers for the narcotics trade and for organized crime, as in Colombia or Guinea-Bissau. They may lose control, or facilitate the transfer, of materials for weapons of mass destruction (WMD), as many fear may happen in Pakistan.
They might spawn violence that restricts access to vital natural resources, such as oil in Nigeria, or that restrains the flow of international trade, as in Indonesia.
President Obama has expressed this new reality in his National Security Strategy: “Instead of a hostile expansionist empire, we now face a diverse array of challenges, from a loose network of violent extremists to states that flout international norms or face internal collapse.” Indeed, the Obama administration—and the Bush administration before it—has made clear that these threats cannot be left to metastasize. Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates gave voice to this growing, bipartisan consensus, writing that “Dealing with such fractured or failing states is, in many ways, the main security challenge of our time.…”
To meet this challenge, the United States faces both the necessity of maintaining the force and technical capability to break hostile enemies, and that of learning how to help weaker nations become stable, willing partners before they give rise to threats. The United States must surmount four obstacles in order to attain this capability: a lack of coherent strategy; a dearth of civilian capabilities; inflexible funding mechanisms; and insufficient commitment to sustained stabilization efforts.
Read news on the Stabilizing Fragile States Initiative here.
Read more about the Stabilizing Fragile States Initiative.