Saturday, July 5, 2008

The Failed States Index 2008

By Joseph El-Khoury


The Failed States Index for 2008 is finally out. This Index has been compiled yearly since 2005 by an organisation called 'The Fund For peace’ and published in the reputable ‘Foreign Policy’. Before the authors credibility is put at stake lets say that as always the company is based in Washington DC, staffed by Americans, under the patronage of other Americans and supported by more Americans. But since no one else worthy of mention has compiled such an index; we will have to put aside our healthy dose of scepticism and accept their mission statement in the words of their president Pauline Baker that ‘it is a research and educational organization that works to prevent war and alleviate the conditions that cause war’.

The product is a table where countries are scored according to a number of criteria touching on a range of economic, social and political factors. Those who are in a real mess are colour-coded in Red for ‘Alert’ and this year 35 countries out of a total of 177 fell in that category. We will focus our attention on those countries which are members of the Arab league. At the top spot Somalia, a country only by name since the late 70s where warlords and religious fundamentalists fight it over with occasional international attention. It is followed closely at number 2 by the Sudan of Omar El Bashir, reputed modernist and democrat, with a special weakness for minorities. At number 5 we find the fascinating democratic experience of Iraq, still one of the most dangerous places on earth five years on from the invasion. Lebanon shows up at number 18, down from 28 the previous year (The country was not even in the red in 2005), probably thanks to the combination of consistent governance and constructive opposition. In the process it has surpassed Srilanka and is only 2 down from Ethiopia (A point to consider next time you look down on your maid/servant). Yemen headed by the friendly Ali-Abdallah Saleh is at number 21 and last but not least Syria, the great defender of Arab pride and always happy to dish out advice through its foreign minister Mr Walid Muallem, at number 35. As a point of consolation in the face of poor Arab performance, Israel is only at number 58 but would surely do better only if it could get rid of this thorn in its side called the Palestinians. Its Jewish population would then live happily ever after following the rules in this rather selective democratic oasis.

For the Fund for Peace webiste
http://www.fundforpeace.org/web/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=292&Itemid=452

For the Foreign Policy article
http://www.foreignpolicy.com/story/cms.php?story_id=4350