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  The Rough States and Failed Nations  


By: Dr.Dipak Basu
May 14, 2006
iews expressed here are author’s own and not of this website. Full disclaimer is at the bottom.


(The author is a Professor in International Economics in Nagasaki University, Japan)

The Western politicians and their academics now have a new argument to create a ‘New Imperial Order’ to rescue the so-called ‘Failed States’, a new name of the ‘Rough States’, as they used to be called during the 1990s.. Their arguments are based on ‘Utilitarianism’, the fundamental philosophical principle of capitalism, which is the guiding force for the ‘New International Order’. The architecture of the ‘New International Order’ for the last decade was in terms of three international organizations, International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the World Trade Organization, all controlled by the former colonialists of the Western countries. The purpose is to control world trade, finance and economy to reward those who are efficient, whether these are countries or social classes. A new dimension is now added to justify physical control, of the un favored nations, in terms of inefficiency of their governments to have sustained economic growth. According to the Western power, inefficient governments breed international terrorism, which must be erased out by taking control of the so-called ‘failed states". The World Bank has recently produced a list of the ‘Failed States’, they are all either developing countries or former socialist countries; most of them have enormous natural resources.

A failed state’ is defined as a state where the government is in near collapse after long drawn insurgency or civil war or invasion; where people are at the mercy of the armed groups or war lords; where most of the public services are either not available or only for the powerful people; where basic facilities for a decent life, education, law, civil services are in a near collapse state. Most countries in Africa, smaller republics of the former Soviet Union, former provinces of now defunct Yugoslavia, some of the island states in the pacific and in the Caribbean Sea are in that condition. Some parts of a large country can also be in that situation. In India, Bihar, Kashmir, and most of the North Eastern states, Ache province of Indonesia, Mindanao province of the Philippines, some parts of Thailand, Peru, Bolivia, and Nepal are in that condition. However, does that mean they have to be subjugated and their sovereignty should be passed on the developed countries to provide welfare for the people? The questions cane be raised, who is responsible to create these conditions for these unfortunate countries.

The Old Imperialism and its rejuvenation:

The logic of the old imperialism was to occupy countries to extract their resources and labor force to enrich the home countries. For the European powers, occupation was not enough, whenever possible they have reduced the local population to a very minimum to create a commonwealth of white Europeans people. Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada, Central and South America and to some extent South Africa have experienced deliberate depopulation policies along with the traditional colonialism in India, China and in the rest of the world. The argument was in terms of “white man’s burden’, i.e., white Europeans have a moral responsibility to uplift the people of the backward countries with primitive civilizations and protect the native people from aggressive neighbors and invasions.

Justifications for colonization of India by the British was that otherwise Tarter hordes from central and west Asia, implying Turks, Mongols, Persians, Afghans, will occupy India. Another justification was to impose a civilized order, administration and Christian culture and religion. Although the industrial revolution in Britain was financed by the colony of Bengal in India, where within ten years since 1757 one third of population were wiped out by ruthless exploitation, Western historians and intellectuals have no knowledge of that, they simply deny it.

In The History of British India, 1st edition, 3 volumes, London, 1817”, James Mill had the conviction that India needed enlightenment and progress. Mill believed that if non-European peoples in Asia, including India, were enlightened through interacting with the Europeans, they would progress and the global happiness would be increased. India would progress and the Indians would be able to have more happiness under British rule than when they were governed by their native kings. Global happiness will be obtained if all races of peoples of the globe are ‘civilized’ in the utilitarian sense. Mill had a conviction that all non-European peoples would become ‘civilized’ if the European knowledge, arts, manners, and institutions were diffused to them. Mill was particularly concerned with how to bring enlightenment to what he believed to be ‘half-civilized’ peoples, such as peoples in India and other Asian nations: ‘What glorious results might be expected for the whole of Asia, that vast proportion of the earth, which, even in its most favored parts, has been in all ages condemned to semi-barbar-ism, and the miseries of despotic power?’ (The History of British India, p .284).

In Bentham’s view (in L.Campos Boralevi, Bentham and the Oppressed, Walter de Gruyter, chapter 6), “If the Indians were left to their own native princes, they would inevitably be ruled by despots.”

Inspired by the utilitarian mentality, Mill committed himself to an agenda of creating a global liberal order in which the happiness of the humankind would be maximized. Such an order is attainable only if every nation progressed to a maximal extent. From Mill’s perspective, it was desirable for those who were at a higher level of progress to help those, which were at a relatively lower level of progress. Mill’s logic was taken up by the U.S president Woodrow Wilson by saying, “ Since trade ignores national boundaries and the manufacturer insists on having the world as a market, the flag of his nation must follow him, and the doors of the nations which are closed against him must be battered down. Concessions obtained by financiers must be safeguarded by ministers of state, even if the sovereignty of unwilling nations may be outraged in the process. Colonies must be obtained or planted, in order that no useful corner of the world may be overlooked or left unused”. During the conquest of the Philippines between 1898 and 1901, the U.S declared Filipinos as “unfit for self government” and claimed to be fighting “with scrupulous regard for the rules of civilized warfare, with self restraint and humanity never surpassed”, while it massacred hundreds of thousands.

‘Neo-Imperialists’ have the same logic in terms of enhanced welfare for the people of the ‘failed states’. Foreign Affairs, the organ of the United States Council of Foreign Relations recently has asserted a very powerful argument for imperialistic intervention.

“Experience has shown that non-imperialist options -- notably, foreign aid and various nation-building efforts -- are not altogether reliable. An obstinate group of dysfunctional countries has refused to respond to these approaches. The chaos in the world is too threatening to ignore, and existing methods for dealing with that chaos have been tried and found wanting. The question is not whether the United States will seek to fill the void created by the demise of European empires but whether it will acknowledge that this is what it is doing.” (Sebastian Mallaby, ‘The Reluctant Imperialist: Terrorism, Failed States, and the Case for American Empire’ Foreign Affairs, March-April, 2002).

The British Prime Minister Blair recently (The Guardian, 5 March, 2004) has advocated the idea of ‘pre-emptive intervention ‘ as a solution to international terrorism that normally emerges from these ‘failed states’. Failed states also challenge orderly ones by boosting immigration pressures.

According to Robert Rothberg (Foreign Affairs, July-august, 2003), “ Weak states threaten not only themselves but also their neighbors and even global security. Preventing state failure is thus a strategic and moral imperative.”

In the new theory of failed states, the ‘international community’, means the Western nations only, can intervene in another country to change its government if that country is a failed state. Professor of Human Rights in Harvard University, Michael Ignatieff wrote in his book (Empire Lite: Nation Building in Bosnia, Kosovo and Afghanistan), “ The United States is the natural nation-building power in the world and must shoulder the burden of the new imperialism”.

In the Berlin conference of 1886, European countries have divided the world as their colonial assets. In the same way with the U.S concentrating on central Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East, the western European powers are moving on to Africa and Eastern Europe.

Some of the so-called failed states are already been taken over by the developed countries. Former Yugoslavia is under the UN-NATO control; East Timor and Solomon Islands were taken over by Australia in conjunctions with the U.N; Rwanda-Burundi are in UN control; Liberia and Sierra Leone are controlled by Britain. The United States has already occupied both Iraq and Afghanistan and is planning to occupy Iran.

The main problem is to know whether a ‘failed state’ is the result of deliberate policy of the developed countries to provide justification for the ‘take-over’ or it is the result of the poor quality of civilization and the leadership of that ‘failed state’. Yugoslavia was destroyed when Germany gave recognition to the breakaway provinces of Croatia and Bosnia, who were pro-German during the Second World War. Afghanistan was destroyed because of the intervention of Pakistan and the US in 1978 immediately after its revolution to abolish monarchy. Now destabilization process is going on in Venezuela to turn it into a ‘failed state’. The problems in Thailand, Indonesia, and the Philippines and in Kashmir in India are the results of interventions by some Islamic countries. In the former socialist countries, criminals are allowed to steal all state properties in the name of privatizations with encouragements and financial supports from the Western development organizations. Thus, it is not possible to rule out deliberate intervention as the cause of the failed state.

Failed States and Terrorism: ‘Greater Middle East’ Policy

The best example of the deliberate intervention to create failed states is in the Middle East. None of the Middle-East countries today can be within the definition of the failed state. All of them have functioning government, although in all cases these are dictatorial. However, those have defied USA are branded first as ‘Rough States’ and now ‘Failed States’. Iraq, Iran, Syria are within this category. Iraq is already colonized using this argument.

However, the source of terrorism in the Middle East since 1978 is Pakistan, which has sent its armed terrorists, with the encouragement of the US, to Afghanistan to destabilize it. Since 1989, it is sending terrorists to Kashmir in India. It has created the Muzahadins who has destroyed the government of Dr.Najjubullah of Afghanistan in 1992. In 1995, Pakistan has created the Taliban at the instruction of the Clinton administration. In 1986, Osama Bin Laden joined a terrorist organization, called Ghunda-e-Jadeed, located in Para Chinar, inside the Afghan territory occupied by Pakistan. According to General Mirza Aslam Beg, the former Chief of Staff of the Pakistan Army, “ Osama and his outfit were paid by US government over US$500 million annually for waging Jihad against the Soviets” (The Nation, March 14, 2004).

Osama Bin Laden was honoured by both Mrs.Thatcher and Reagan as the ‘freedom fighter of Afghanistan’, although Osama is a citizen of Saudi Arabia and his father came from Yemen. Osama went to Sudan in 1992 but came back to Afghanistan after Taliban took over in 1996 and since 1998, he is considered to be a threat for the US.

Although Pakistan is the source of international terrorism and was a failed bankrupt state before 9/11, it is not considered as a ‘failed state’; but quite stable countries like Iraq before 2003 or Syria and Iran today are considered to be failed state and source of international terrorism.

The reason lies in the US policy towards the Middle East, which aims to destroy any threat for Israel and turn all Middle East and North African countries from Morocco to Pakistan as countries under American economic and political order. That would pacify the Middle East and ensure that Israel can incorporate the territories occupied by it, in Golan Height of Syria, South Lebanon, West Bank of Jordan and Gaza stripe of Palestine without any objections from any Arab countries.

The Baath socialist party, established by Nasser of Egypt, was the most influential political force in the Middle East since 1956 and the political force against the colonial policy of Israel. Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Algeria under Ben Bella, Libya before Gaddafi, were all within the domain of the Baath socialist party. Egypt, purchased by massive amount of American foreign aid, is now reduced to a client state of the US. After the recent occupation of Iraq, the U.S is determined to erase out all influences of the Baath party and its socialist policy. That is the reason for the privatization drive in Iraq so as to give the control of the oil and gas industry in Iraq to the Anglo-American oil companies, as it was the situation before 1960.

Syria is the only country left with the Baath party, and that is the reason the U.S now has imposed sanctions against Syria in order to destabilize it. Syria is now considered to a failed state as it gives sanctuaries to the Palestinians who are opposed to Israel. Thus, in the Middle East the idea of the failed state is being used as ploy to ensure the future dominance of Israel and to create a subordinate position for the Arab states.

Iran does not fall within the category of a ‘socialist’ state nor it was anti-American as such. Iran is a theocratic Islamic state, which has executed all-most-all Iranian socialist. Islamic Iran had collaborated with the Reagan administration of USA to destroy the progressive governments both in Nicaragua and in Afghanistan. However, sometime ago Henry Kissinger made a famous comment, “It is dangerous for a country to be an enemy of the US but it is disastrous for it to be a friend of USA”. That was true about Shah of Iran, or Zia-Ul Haque of Pakistan or Taliban of Afghanistan. This is now true about Iran today. Just because it has nuclear power plants but no ability to produce nuclear weapons, it is now being described as the same as Nazi Germany by Israel, who influences the policy of the USA in the Middle-East.

Failed States as Producers of Natural Resources: Plan for the future colonialism

The Middle East is important for another reason. The proponents of the neo-imperialism wants to create a new international political architecture disregarding the United Nations, as it stands on the way of neo-imperialism. The plan is to create a new international body with the same governing structure to deal with nation building. It would be subject neither to the U.N. Security Council, with its Russian vetoes, nor to those of the U.N. General Assembly, with its democratic ‘one-country-one-vote’ system, which give undue importance to the poor countries suitable for only subordination.

A new international reconstruction fund might be financed by the rich countries belonging to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. It would assemble nation-building muscle and expertise and could be deployed wherever its American-led board decided. It would fill the security void that empires left -- much as the system of mandates did after World War I.

How all these can be financed is answered by a prominent supporter of imperialism, a true product of the McCauley inspired education system of India, which was designed to create perfect slaves, Deepak Lal of the University of California, Los Angeles (“A Modest Proposal for Colonialism”, Financial Times, 3 October, 2003). According to him, a new financial institution, International Natural Resources Fund (INRF), combining the World Bank and IMF, should be created, “To obtain the rents from the natural resources of failed or failing states, once they form part of the direct or indirect Imperium. These revenues would be put in escrow by the fund for use only in the country in which they were generated. The funds from these country escrow accounts would only be released on the authority of the fund, for purposes determined by the fund’s managers in consultation with the local government. ……… Power of the Imperial Power becomes crucial. It needs to provide the necessary military muscle to protect the mines.”

Invasion of Iraq took place in 2003 for that purpose to finance the creation of the future Empire, as the profit from Bengal has finance both the industrial revolution in Britain and the war to colonize China in the late 18th century. Australia has already taken over a vast offshore oil field belongs to East Timor, and sold US$6 billion worth of petroleum to China to benefit Australia. United States has organized a coup in Haiti, as a precursor to invade Cuba and Venezuela, the most important oil-producer in Latin America. Invasion plans for Iran is under serious consideration.

Analysis: The New International Order:

The proponents of the failed state disregard all existing treaty and laws regarding national sovereignty. The modern concept of sovereignty traces its history back to the signing of the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648. This treaty established the national self-determination as a principle for the formation of a state. Sovereignty was embodied in the monarch who enjoyed formal equality with other monarchs. These rights enjoyed by the monarch became the doctrine of nonintervention and the doctrine of formal equality in modern international law. Nonintervention has been codified in many treaties and agreements. Most notably, it appears in Article 2, Principle #7 of the United Nations Charter:

"Nothing contained in the present Charter shall authorize the United Nations to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state or shall require the Members to submit such matters to settlement under the present Charter; but this principle shall not prejudice the application of enforcement measures under Chapter Vll."

Only the U.N Security Council, using Chapter VII, can enforce humanitarian intervention on a country, as it did recently in Yugoslavia and Rwanda-Burundi. Non-intervention means that sovereigns have the right to be free from interference by others in their domestic affairs. The doctrine of formal equality was also codified in Article 2 of the UN Charter.

"The Organization is based on the principle of the sovereign equality of all its Members."

However, the neo-conservatives of the US and UK wants to disregard even the United Nations, as Britain and USA did when they invaded Iraq. Thus, national sovereignty also will be subjected to the will of the US. As the British prime-minister Blair said: “For me, before September 11th, I was already reaching for a different philosophy in international relations from a traditional one that has held sway since the treaty of Westphalia in 1648” (The Guardian, 5 March, 2004). This is the imperialism of the new century, elaborated by the adviser to Blair, Robert Cooper, a book ‘Reordering the World’, by saying, “ All the conditions for imperialism are there, the weak still need the strong, and the strong still need an orderly world. When dealing with more old fashioned kind of states outside the post modern continent of Europe, we need to revert to the rough methods of an earlier era, force, preemptive attack, deception, whatever is necessary to deal with those who still live in the 19th century world of every state for itself” (pp 15-16).

With the destruction of the Soviet Union, Western countries are now free to re-colonize the former colonies and take back the economic and social rights of the poor people throughout the world. If a country does not welcome multinational companies, privatize its public industries and financial services, open up itself for free flow of imports, regime change will be imposed to create an orderly condition, a stable environment for the foreign capital, because non-imperialist options like foreign aid and economic control by the IMF and the World Bank are not enough for the impatient Western countries to control the resources of the world. Possible invasion of Iran and the destabilization process in Venezuela, both important oil producers, are parts of that grand design.

Dr.Dipak Basu

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