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July 31, 2005

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FYI, the ranking graph at Fund for Peace is a bit easier to read than the graphical one at FP mag. And just to make Charles happy they list the top(?) 76 countries and it does have China at 75 just 2 places after Mexico at 73.

Hey and you forgot to mention Cuba. You're slipping...

Hugo Chavez is steering Venezuela to failure.

I'm looking, but I can't find where the article says that.

Charles, you cannot imagine pleased I am to see you so thoroughly rejecting RedState's pitiful and incoherent "known facts" policy.

If there's one thing that we all know, it's that Hugo Chavez is steering Venezuela to failure. Failure I tell you. Imminent, utter, complete, crushing failure... Desolate, windswept, dismal failure. Any day now. Just you wait.

Anyways, the index is another tool which helps quantify the states of the nations.

Your accounting bias is showing!

The lists and the descriptiopns about the nature of the problems are interesting -- the quantification is something of a pointless abstraction.

The fact that Iraq and Afghanistan are such failures? "We have a ways to go." Nope -- this pooch has already been thoroughly screwed, and there is no reason to hope that the current crew will suddenly create success in view of the failure they have created.

Thanks for the post and update Charles, and thanks for the update 243. The FfP decision to go up to 76 to include India and China is useful for the reminder that the majority of the world's population lives in states that have borderline or worse stability.

Charles is certainly right to single out Africa. Likewise the Middle East and Islam: this linkage is reasonable, but I would caution against placing all of the blame on religious influences.

It would be factually correct to note that the 27 of 60 Muslim majority or pluralities could be contrasted with 30 of 60 Christian majority or plurality countries (9 plurality mostly Christian/Muslim, plus Lebanon as an anomaly).

CIA http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/xx.html>world href> religions: Christians 32.84%... Muslims 19.9%, Hindus 13.29%, Buddhists 5.92%, Sikhs 0.39%, Jews 0.23%, other religions 12.63%, non-religious 12.44%, atheists 2.36% (2003 est.)

Islamic countries are less stable, and there are far more problem countries compared to population or country totals. Additionally the countries that combine freedom, stability, and high standard of living are predominantly Christian. But, especially considering the FfP list of 76 least stable, you do get hints that religion maybe isn’t the biggest contributing factor or commonality. It certainly isn’t the only one.

Religious aspects may play a part in how quickly and directly unstable countries become a problem for us specifically, but stepping back from that perspective occasionally can be useful.

Kristoff is accurate, but giving the President a pass is unreasonable. Especially when the first priority of the administration is domestic partisanship.

Charles, thanks for flagging this. I'm not surprised by the "Articles per 1,000 people" graph. A few years ago I went looking for historical information on the wars in the Great Lakes region of Africa - Burundi, Uganda, Rwanda, DR Congo - and I was amazed at how hard it is to get a real feeling for it. By contrast, if you want to know about the Arab-Israeli conflict there's tons of stuff on offer. Yet in terms of the human cost it's a trivial squabble by comparison.

I agree with their opening sentence: "America is now threatened less by conquering states than we are by failing ones."

I don't. The lack of articles is a pretty good indicator. Nobody at the Pentagon is worrying too much about the threat posed to America by developments in the Ivory Coast, Togo or Niger. Nobody is too worried in European capitals either. Which is a pity in a way. If there was a threat, something would get done. There isn't so people just go on dying.

Personally, what I noticed most was that the Ivory Coast was #1, as I am engaged in a group for the prevention of genocide in that country.

As a friend wrote in wrote in a report, almost all the genocide risk factors are present in the Ivory Coast...

It's useful to think about the factors that lead to failed states, and the list given is interesting. Still, I am dubious that these ratings have much meaning as a basis for comparison. I don't believe you can lump all the factors into a single measure.

What does it tell us that Congo is 105.3 while Ivory Coast is 106.0?

Does this sort of exercise do any harm? Maybe not, unless it oversimplifies our thinking. After all, the reasons individual states might fail vary. Some may do so because of economic problems, others from civil war, etc. I think categorizing states according to the factor most likely to precipitate failure would be more useful than this sort arbitrary aggregation of very imprecise indicators.

If there's one thing that we all know, it's that Hugo Chavez is steering Venezuela to failure.

Considering the loss of freedom, Mugabe-esque land grabs, power grabs and lack of economic progress since Chavez has been in office, how can he not be steering Venuezuela in the failure direction?

Bernard, check out 243's link to FfP. You can pick which of the 12 indicators you think is the decisive, sort by it, and compare.

If there's one thing that we all know, it's that Hugo Chavez is steering Venezuela to failure. Failure I tell you. Imminent, utter, complete, crushing failure... Desolate, windswept, dismal failure. Any day now. Just you wait.

Because we all know that what actually happens when you institute a communist dictatorship is rainbows, sunshine, and dreams that come true.

Chavez may be incompetent, but until he starts serious election rigging the US is best advised to let the people of Venezuela decide for themselves how they wish to be governed. Democracy is messy, and in nearly every case the best option for outsiders is to let the people decide what sort of governance they want and let them have it good and hard. Trying to impose our preferred government on any nation is almost certain to produce disaster. The only successful cases were in nations that had been so devastated by war that the people were completely cowed and willing to accept anything that promised a respite (Germany and Japan post WWII).

Chavez may be incompetent

Or he may simply be instituting programs that the Right finds threatening, like attempting to address the extreme imbalance of the distribution of wealth. One of the indicators the "Failed State Index" marks as being one of the most significant problem for Venezuela.

But my beef is Charles, once again, drew a conclusion not actually based on the data he was citing.

Perhaps Hugo Chavez and his policies are a problem. Or perhaps Venezuela's run deeper than one man, and would be on the list without him.

cmatt,

Thanks. That's something. Still, looking at the numbers gives me a lot of reservations about their methodology. (That's polite).

I don't want to carp too much, because I do think that calling attention to the general issue and the underlying problems is worthwhile, but I really dislike this sort of approach. The countries can't be meaningfully compared along a single dimension to start with, and if they could the evaluations that are the basis of the ratings are highly subjective and also are correlated in ways that make adding them up silly.

Given that we've devoted $200 billion to Iraq and Afghanistan and relatively little to the others, saying "we have a ways to go" seems to misstate the issue more than a little...

I second Yomtov. Spending time on the quantification of value judgments in order to create a comparitive ranking is fundamentally a waste of time. You can lump the various nations into general categories that reflect relative degrees of choas -- that is useful. But more fine tuning of ranking simply fogs your mind to what matters.

By the way, why would China be on anyone's list of "failed" states (even if ranked betwen 60 and 75)? I hate its form of government, but it seems highly successful (at least for now). Maybe the cumulative strains of what is wrong with China will send it reeling some day, but I doubt it.

Colombia is #14, in a virtual tie with North Korea. My wife's gonna love that ...

I've been to Bogota. It's no paradise, but I'd be willing to bet it's no Pyongyang either.

Even Venezuela ranks higher. I guess this means that Alvaro Uribe (one of the most Bush-friendly, hard-line presidents Colombia has had in a while) is driving the country to failure ...

CB: how can he [Chavez] not be steering Venuezuela in the failure direction?

No doubt that Marxist Thought Online are in Chavez's cheering section, 243. Venezuelanalysis.com is a Chavez-friendly press organ. Shades of Pravda. Only a Marxist would approve of his slow-motion communist revoluation. The blogs do a better job at getting to the truth of Chavez, especially now that Chavez is cracking down on their once free press.

CB: No doubt that Marxist Thought Online are in Chavez's cheering section, 243. Sorry, didn't catch that. Should'a used the Guardian article instead. Regardless the presentation was largely fact based and your shooting the messenger doesn't negate that some good is coming from Chavez. Now it may be mostly a symbolic good like our painting schools in Iraq, and it may have some lasting positive impact. Can't say that I'm optimistic in either case.

"If there's one thing that we all know, it's that Hugo Chavez is steering Venezuela to failure. Failure I tell you. Imminent, utter, complete, crushing failure... Desolate, windswept, dismal failure. Any day now. Just you wait."

On my trip to Venezuela a few years back, that's exactly what I thought. Chavez is playing with fire, his "Boliviarian Circles" snitch squads are directly modeled after the Cuban "Committees for the Defence of the Revolution". This man is no democrat, as his failed coup in the early 1990s should tell you, and anyone cheerleading for him on the left is a frigging fool.

That's my $0.02, as a paid-up liberal.

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