This chapter studies the literature on failed states in order to create a definition of a failed state. States can fail along any of the five aspects of statehood, resulting in five types of state failure: anarchic, illegitimate, incapable, unproductive, and barbaric states—failures of security, justice, capacity, economy, and humanity, respectively. Failures in each dimension can occur to greater or lesser degrees, and they can happen independently or, more often, in combination. These concepts help describe the dynamics of state failure during a state-building operation, but they do not exhaust the range of possible problems. The chapter suggests applying the balance-of-power theory to the dynamic among local actors and between local and international actors to generate insights about what influences locals to cooperate with, free-ride on, or fight against state-building efforts.
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