The term “state failure” evokes images of anarchy in Mogadishu, rebel armies in Kinshasa, and sectarian violence in Iraq. In each of these cases, neighboring states faced strong incentives to encroach upon—even claim for themselves—the territory of a nearby failed state. Hundreds of thousands of Somali refugees spilled into Ethiopia in the early 1990s, straining the Ethiopian treasury; a total of eight states occupied the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) during its failure, in large part to plunder its natural resources; and Iraqi neighbors with significant populations of separatist Kurds—such as Turkey and Syria—might better preserve the cohesion of their own states by internalizing Iraq’s Kurdish population and oil. But at least to date, the international borders of these three failed states have not changed. Moreover, to the extent that they may change in the future, such cartographic alterations will likely be more a function of secession (of Somaliland) or partition (of Iraq) than of external predation. Why, given incentives to take over either part or the entirety of failed states, have neighboring powers resisted temptation in the face of relatively easy targets?
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- Why Are Failed States’ Borders Stable against External Predation?
Tanisha M. Fazal
- Palgrave Macmillan US