You’re in hell… but America will save you!


This short post is a largely-unresearched (as yet) kneejerk reaction to Foreign Policy’s 2011 list of the world’s failed states.

In a photo essay titled Postcards from Hell, journalist Elizabeth Dickinson portrays heart-tugging scenes from Iraq, Iran, Haiti, parts of Asia and (surprise!) much of sub-Saharan Africa – all of which have made FP’s list of failed states. How did these 60 countries get chosen? Well, the folks at FP chose from “130,000 publicly available sources… 12 indicators including refugee flows, poverty, public services, security threats”.

According to wiki, the Fund for Peace (which ironically sponsored FP’S little show-and-tell) describes a failed state as one which has:

  • lost control of its territory
  • erosion of legitimate authority to make decisions
  • inability to provide public services
  • inability to interact fully with other members of the international community

On these criteria, can we rank Liberia as a failed state? Nigeria? Kenya? How about Uganda? Iran? Bhutan?

Now, I am not condoning abuse of human rights or grave failures to provide public services by governments.The situations of Somalia and Haiti can certainly not be overstated.

It just seems to me that this American finger-wagging was a result of some biased research. The superlative-filled captions that go along with these pictures are just-so to portray exactly what I think the FP is trying to say : If your brand of government is not modelled after the US, if you’re a Jihad-preaching crazy Ay-rab muslim, we’re gonna put you on the list.

If I took pictures of SouthEast DC or the Bronx and slapped some shocking (but true) stats on the US’ immigration policies or incarceration rates, you might think The Mighty Nation was a failed state too.


6 responses »

  1. You see? no one is talking about the ills of democracy… anytime that is mentioned they say it is the best of the worst. Yet, I disagree. If the propagandists would allow each country to develop its own form of government/governance structure we shall find that which truly works.

    As for the stereotypes, I am fed up with it. I see it and don’t even read them. It’s always like that… you are with us or against us, as He aptly put it. They forget to tell the world their debt burdens, their rising unemployment, their dependence on China, their increasing murder rates and drug cartels, the corrupt police system where cops are found killing innocent citizens without any punishment. They tell us not about those below the poverty line, those who cannot afford heating system in winter and go cold.

    And we see only the hollywoodification of their lives. We think that every American is a Hollywood star of lives a hollywood life. We look at them and we scream ‘Yeah, I would love to be there’. Faces like Denzel Washington, Jay Zee, Beyonce, and all those stars have become the faces of America. We see these stars and think that’s how every American citizen lives, comfortable… in that solace… but is that true? I guess these individuals are even envied by their own compatriots.

    Only half the story is told.

    • Agreed. Some form of democracy may work in Africa, but it needs to be organic. We need to be allowed our own trial-and-error, not just some transposed way of doing things.
      As for the media, you know the saying “until the lion learns to speak the tales of hunting will be weak”? It’s up to us to tell our stories in whole, not in part.

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