The International Dimensions of State Weakness
This introductory chapter provides an overview of the problem of incomplete state consolidation—the failure to govern the entirety of a state’s territory. In the 30 years since the end of the Cold War, the problem of incomplete state consolidation has begun to occupy greater prominence in the U.S. foreign policy consciousness. Since the 9/11 terror attacks, the U.S. security community has become increasingly concerned about the negative externalities of “ungoverned spaces”—pockets of territory that are either fully or partially outside the authority of the state. The problem of incomplete state consolidation reaches beyond the specter of international terrorism, lawlessness, and violence. For a great many people, the absence of the state is highly consequential in terms of economic development, public goods, and human health and well-being. This book studies foreign subversion and how it undermines state authority and impedes state consolidation. The chapter then assesses why incomplete state consolidation and its international causes matter.
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