Public Forum November 2009 Topic Analysis

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This month's public forum resolution is "Failed nations are a greater threat to the United States than stable nations." However, in the topic analysis it is stated that the term "failed nation(state)" or "stable nation(state)" is no universally accepted definition of failed state.

What would be definitions for the terms "failed nation(state)" and "stable nation(state)"?

Hi Sean,

The answer to your question is that there is no single correct definition of the terms "failed state" and "stable state." (For those who are curious, the terms "state" and nation" are interchangeable when discussing the realm of international politics). The meaning of these terms within the resolution can be debated as thoroughly as any other aspect.

You should do some research on these terms and find some definitions that make sense.

Here is a sample interpretation of what the "failed state" refers to. It's a contextual definition from the Fund for Peace, a nonprofit organization that is also an expert in the field:

"What does "state failure" mean?

A: A state that is failing has several attributes. One of the most common is the loss of physical control of its territory or a monopoly on the legitimate use of force. Other attributes of state failure include the erosion of legitimate authority to make collective decisions, an inability to provide reasonable public services, and the inability to interact with other states as a full member of the international community. The 12 indicators cover a wide range of state failure risk elements such as extensive corruption and criminal behavior, inability to collect taxes or otherwise draw on citizen support, large-scale involuntary dislocation of the population, sharp economic decline, group-based inequality, institutionalized persecution or discrimination, severe demographic pressures, brain drain, and environmental decay. States can fail at varying rates through explosion, implosion, erosion, or invasion over different time periods."

(Source: http://www.fundforpeace.org/web/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&i...)

The same organization also provides a list of failed states that is current as of 2009 - this would be a highly precise definition.

(Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_Failed_States_Index)

Good luck!

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