A joint project between Foreign Policy magazine and the Carnegie Endowment Fund for Peace put together the 2nd annual Failed States Index, ranking sixty countries in question, using twelve military, political and social indicators. Surprising that there are sixty of them, although the top twenty (or bottom twenty as it were) are the real concerns. The rest are "in danger" or "borderline". I agree with their opening sentence: "America is now threatened less by conquering states than we are by failing ones." The actual index is here.
The list is a who's who of unfree nations, the notable exception being China, and it confirms much of what we already know:
- Africa is a basket case. Thirteen of the twenty "critical" nations are on the African continent, and roughly half (24) of all African nations are on the list.
- Hugo Chavez is steering Venezuela to failure.
- Iraq and Afghanistan are ranked 4th and 11th, respectively. We have a ways to go.
- Bosnia-Herzegovina is the only western European nation on the list.
- Middle Eastern nations include Iraq, Yemen, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Bahrain and Iran. The only ones off the list are Israel, Jordan, Kuwait and a few no-name desert countries.
- 27 of the 60 failed states are Muslim majority or Muslim plurality (based on the CIA Fact Book).
- Libya and Bolivia are not on the list, which is a bit of a surprise.
Anyways, the index is another tool which helps quantify the states of the nations. Other useful indices include the Human Development Index, civil liberties and political rights by Freedom House, the Index of Economic Freedom, the Corruption Perceptions Index by Transparency International, the Press Freedom Index by Reporters Sans Frontieres.