Mullen: Public, Private Efforts Must Help Failed States

WASHINGTON, June 29, 2011 — Nations and orga­ni­za­tions of all kinds must join togeth­er to take on the chal­lenges posed by a grow­ing num­ber of weak and fail­ing states, Navy Adm. Mike Mullen said today.

Mullen, chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, spoke at a launch event for the 2011 Failed States Index, host­ed by The Fund for Peace and Busi­ness Exec­u­tives for Nation­al Secu­ri­ty. The fund has pub­lished the index since 2005.

“[For] every sin­gle enti­ty that exists on this globe, whether it’s pub­lic or pri­vate [or] non­govern­men­tal,” Mullen said. ” … It’s imper­a­tive that we all fig­ure out how we’re going to address these chal­lenges togeth­er because … they are com­ing at us at a speed that is accel­er­at­ing.”

The index is an annu­al rank­ing of 177 nations using 12 social, eco­nom­ic and polit­i­cal indi­ca­tors of pres­sure on the state, along with more than 100 sub-indi­ca­tors. Indi­ca­tors include issues like uneven devel­op­ment, state legit­i­ma­cy, group griev­ance and human rights.

“In today’s world, many chal­lenges to inter­na­tion­al peace and pros­per­i­ty come from non­tra­di­tion­al sources,” said Ken Brill, Insti­tute for Peace pres­i­dent.

“This has direct impli­ca­tions for U.S. nation­al secu­ri­ty,” Brill added, “which needs to be thought about and act­ed on in a broad­er con­text than ever before.”

The 2011 index is based on data col­lect­ed through­out 2010, so it does not account for recent events such as Japan’s major earth­quake and tsuna­mi and upris­ings across the Mid­dle East.

For the fourth con­sec­u­tive year, the report ranks Soma­lia as the No. 1 failed state, cit­ing wide­spread law­less­ness, inef­fec­tive gov­ern­ment, ter­ror­ism, insur­gency, crime and pirate attacks against for­eign ves­sels.

At the oppo­site end of the spec­trum, Fin­land, for the first time, dis­placed Nor­way from the best posi­tion among most sta­ble coun­tries because of slight fluc­tu­a­tions in demo­graph­ic and eco­nom­ic indi­ca­tors.

Each indi­ca­tor used in the rank­ing is rat­ed on a scale of one to 10 based on the analy­sis of mil­lions of pub­licly avail­able doc­u­ments, oth­er quan­ti­ta­tive data and ana­lyt­ic assess­ments.

A high score indi­cates high pres­sure on the state, and there­fore a high­er risk of insta­bil­i­ty.

Insta­bil­i­ty cre­at­ed by fail­ing states threat­ens the nor­mal func­tion of the inter­na­tion­al mar­ket­place,” said retired Army Gen. Mont­gomery C. Meigs, pres­i­dent and chief exec­u­tive offi­cer of the Busi­ness Exec­u­tives for Nation­al Secu­ri­ty.

“Pri­vate-sec­tor ini­tia­tives and invest­ment,” he added, “can com­bat state fragili­ty, pro­mote sta­bil­i­ty and pre­vent con­flict.”

Besides Soma­lia, the top 10 failed states include, in order from the most trou­bled states, Chad, Sudan, Demo­c­ra­t­ic Repub­lic of the Con­go, Haiti, Zim­bab­we, Afghanistan, Cen­tral African Repub­lic, Iraq and Ivory Coast.

“As I look at the failed state index and look at the states that top the list … none of them are sur­pris­ing,” Mullen said. “What con­cerns me about that is the need for the glob­al enti­ties that exist to address the chal­lenges.”

Mullen described a prin­ci­ple he said has been with him through­out his career, since he was a young offi­cer deployed to Viet­nam in 1969.

“The mes­sage that came from the fam­i­lies that I would become famil­iar with,” Mullen said, was that they were anx­ious to raise their chil­dren to a high­er stan­dard of liv­ing than they had achieved, and in some sem­blance of peace and pros­per­i­ty.

“You need the peace to gen­er­ate the pros­per­i­ty to achieve that stan­dard,” he said. “That’s a glob­al stan­dard from my per­spec­tive.”

About the posi­tions of Iraq and Afghanistan on the index, Mullen said, “I’ve felt for some time, and I’m not alone in this, that Iraq has resources to gen­er­ate a thriv­ing econ­o­my.

“With the oil resources they have and the appetite the world has for oil,” he added, “I am fair­ly con­fi­dent that, over time, Iraq will pull itself out of its place on this index.” Afghanistan does not have such resources imme­di­ate­ly avail­able, the chair­man said, but the coun­try can be helped to build its econ­o­my enough to improve the lives of its peo­ple.

“For both these coun­tries, though, that’s just the eco­nom­ic side,” he said, adding that the index mea­sures gov­er­nance, secu­ri­ty, how the coun­tries’ lead­ers take care of their peo­ple, and oth­er indi­ca­tors.

For sev­er­al years, Mullen said, he has wor­ried about Yemen as a poten­tial next place for al Qai­da to call home, and the index ranks Yemen as 13th from the top of the most failed states.

While the al Qai­da lead­er­ship “still resides in the bor­der [area] between Afghanistan and Pak­istan,” the chair­man said, the fed­er­at­ed al Qai­da group in Yemen is an “incred­i­bly dan­ger­ous group” that has tak­en full advan­tage of the chaos there.

While mil­i­tary inter­ven­tion some­times is nec­es­sary to bring sta­bil­i­ty, it is nev­er the whole answer to fix­ing a failed state,” Mullen said.

“The mil­i­tary, the secu­ri­ty piece, is a nec­es­sary con­di­tion, but it is insuf­fi­cient in and of itself,” he added. “And it’s tak­ing us a long time to fig­ure that out.”

Eco­nom­ic engines – the Unit­ed States, Chi­na, India, Brazil, the Mid­dle East and Europe — will help cre­ate the stan­dard of liv­ing that most peo­ple want for their chil­dren, Mullen said.

“How do we make these eco­nom­ic engines work togeth­er so the haves and the have-nots are not as far apart?” he said. “It’s my belief that if they con­tin­ue to sep­a­rate … then I think there will be more and more failed states.”

“For those of us in lead­er­ship posi­tions, we just can’t keep talk­ing about this,” Mullen said. “We have to gen­er­ate actions on the ground.”

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)