TFPD Transatlantic Foreign Policy Discourse (TFPD)  

  A Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik Project 

Working Groups

Past Working Groups 2002-08

  Post-Conflict Management
The Role of Islamists
State's Economic Role
Transatlantic Security
  China's Rise
Russia, USA and the EU
Military Transformation
Balkans Politics
EU Enlargement
States at Risk
Military Co-operability
Middle East
Meetings & Reports
Partners Organizations


States at Risk - Stabilization and State-building by External Intervention (2003/04)


arrow Meetings & Reports

Group Leader:
arrow Dr. Stefan Mair

Key SWP Participant:
arrow Dr. Ulrich Schneckener


arrow Publications

arrow Partner Organization:
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

September 11 forced the re-emergence of a topic on the international agenda which had been there since the early 1990s: the problem of failing and failed states. The perpetrators of this terrorist act were part of a transnational terrorist network which had its temporary base in Afghanistan - one of those forgotten failed states. Consequently, the U.S. National Security Strategy (September 2002) stated on its very first page. "America is now threatened less by conquering states than we are by failing ones." Jack Straw, the British Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, pointed out: "State failure can no longer be seen as a localized or regional issue to be managed simply on an ad hoc, case by case basis. We have to develop a more coherent and effective international response which utilizes all of the tools at our disposal, ranging aid and humanitarian assistance to support for institution building."

Almost all of Jack Straw's European colleagues would certainly subscribe to his assessment that the dealing with failing and failed states would require a very comprehensive and long-term approach with a strong emphasis on the employment of non-military means. The position of the present U.S. administration seems to differ significantly from this prioritization. Before September 11 the Bush administration stressed that it would not consider nation-building as a relevant task for its foreign policy or development assistance. This has changed in the meantime but the strategy to intervene in failing and failed states seems to be limited to short-term stabilization efforts with a strong preference for military means (e.g. employment of troops and training in counter-terrorism, provision of military aid and supply to foreign governments). For example, the U.S. National Security Strategy does not commit the administration to state-building, nor does the recently increased budget for development assistance provide for any additional means in this field.

It is not so much the analysis on the causes and international impacts of state failure where we can observe diverging views across the Atlantic, but the conclusions and policy implications of how to deal with the problem.


© 2005 Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik, Legal Disclaimer.