Fragile or Failed States

Ask CFR Experts

Is an oppressive government better than anarchy?

Asked by Raveena

Both tyranny and anarchy are bad political options for a country. The political theorist Thomas Hobbes, looking at the ravages of anarchy during England's civil war in the 17th century, famously concluded that life without government was terrible because "there is no place for Industry; because the fruit thereof is uncertain; and consequently no Culture of the Earth; no Navigation, nor use of the commodities that may be imported by Sea; no commodious Building; … no Arts; no Letters; no Society; and which is worst of all, continuall feare, and danger of violent death; and the life of man, [is] solitary, poore, nasty, brutish, and short."

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Audio

Building Small Business Amid Great Challenge: Entrepreneurship in Fragile States (Audio)

Speaker: Shari Berenbach
Presider: Gayle Tzemach Lemmon

Shari Berenbach, director of the Microenterprise Development Office at USAID, details how the agency promotes entrepreneurship in conflict and developing regions by empowering and encouraging women to manage their own small- and medium-sized businesses.

This meeting was part of the Roundtable Series on Entrepreneurs and Market Linkages.

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Audio

Why Nations Fail (Audio)

Speaker: Daron Acemoglu
Presider: Isobel Coleman

In his new book Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty, Daron Acemoglu looks at why some nations prosper and why some fail. He concludes that it depends on whether institutions are pluralistic and inclusive or extractive and autocratic.

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Audio

Somalia's Second Chance? (Audio)

Speakers: Vicki Huddleston and Terrence Lyons
Presider: Tom McDonald

Listen to Vicki Huddleston, former charge d'affaires at the U.S. embassy in Ethiopia, and Terrence Lyons, associate professor of conflict resolution at George Mason University, discuss the potential for Somalia to successfully establish a viable government.

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Council Special Report No. 52

Somalia

Author: Bronwyn E. Bruton

Failed states provide fertile ground for terrorism, drug trafficking, and a host of other ills that threaten to spill beyond their borders. Somalia is thus a problem not just for Somalis but for the United States and the world. Bronwyn E. Bruton takes on one of today's most vexing foreign policy challenges, offering concise analysis and thoughtful recommendations grounded in a realistic assessment of U.S. and international interests and capabilities in Somalia.

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Event

Why Nations Fail

In his new book Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty, Daron Acemoglu looks at why some nations prosper and why some fail. He concludes that it depends on whether institutions are pluralistic and inclusive or extractive and autocratic.

See more in Global; Fragile or Failed States

Event

Somalia's Second Chance?

Recent weeks have witnessed a dramatic turn of events in Somalia, including the defeat of the Islamic Courts in the capital, international economic and development assistance to stabilize the country, and the introduction of an African peacekeeping force to replace Ethiopian troops. Join us for an in-depth discussion of the challenges and opportunities the country faces in the year ahead.

View the Council Special Report Avoiding Conflict in the Horn of Africa: U.S. Policy Toward Ethiopia.

See more in Somalia; Fragile or Failed States