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)