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Nation-states fail because they can no longer deliver positive political

goods to their people. Their governments lose legitimacy and, in the
eyes and hearts of a growing plurality of its citizens, the nation-state itself
becomes illegitimate.

2. Because failed states are hospitable to and harbor nonstate actorswarlords and
terroristsunderstanding the dynamics of nation-state failure is central to the
war against terrorism.

Failed states are tense, deeply conflicted, dangerous, and bitterly contested
by warring factions.

The absolute intensity of violence does not define a failed state. Rather,
it is the enduring character of that violence (as in Angola, Burundi, and
Sudan), the direction of such violence against the existing government or
regime, and the vigorous character of the political or geographical demands for shared
power or autonomy that rationalize or justify that violence
that identifies the failed state. Failure for a nation-state looms when
violence cascades into all-out internal war, when standards of living massively
deteriorate, when the infrastructure of ordinary life decays, and
when the greed of rulers overwhelms their responsibilities to better their
people and their surroundings.

The civil wars that characterize failed states usually stem from or have
roots in ethnic, religious, linguistic, or other intercommunal enmity.

There is no failed state without disharmonies
between communities.

.... state
failure cannot be ascribed primarily to the inability to build nations from a
congeries of ethnic groups. Nor should it be ascribed baldly to the oppression
of minorities by a majority,..

In contrast to strong states, failed states cannot control their borders.

one measure of the extent of a states failure is how much of the
states geographical expanse a government genuinely controls.

Another indicator of state failure is the growth of criminal violence. As
state authority weakens and fails, and as the state becomes criminal in its
oppression of its citizens, so general lawlessness becomes more apparent.

Failed states are unable to provide securitythe most central and foremost
political goodacross the whole of their domains. Citizens depend on
states and central governments to secure their persons and free them from

Failed states provide unparalleled economic opportunity, but only for a
privileged few.

Corruption flourishes in failed states, often on an unusually destructive

An indicator, but not a cause, of failure is declining real national and per
capita levels of gross domestic product (GDP).
Failed states offer no safety nets, and the homeless and destitute become fodder for
anyone who can provide food and a cause.
A nation-state also fails when it loses a basic legitimacywhen its nominal
borders become irrelevant and when one or more groups seek autonomous
control within one or more parts of the national territory or, sometimes,
even across its borders.

A collapsed state is an extreme version of a failed state. It has a total
vacuum of authority. A collapsed state is a mere geographical expression, a
black hole into which a failed polity has fallen.

Leadership decisions
and leadership failures have destroyed states and continue to weaken the
fragile polities that operate on the cusp of failure.