Stewart Patrick on "Failed States" in Foreign Policy Magazine

The last 20 years -- so blandly labeled the "post-Cold War era" -- might as well be known as the "Age of Failed States." After decades of confronting Soviet power, successive U.S. administrations suddenly became embroiled in and bedeviled by the world's most dysfunctional countries. Although great-power competition persists, it is often the world's basket cases -- from Somalia to Afghanistan, Haiti to Liberia, and Pakistan to Yemen -- that dominate the U.S. foreign-policy agenda. This trend began in the early 1990s, when a shocking outbreak of state collapse and internal violence, including but by no means limited to episodes of genocide in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, seemed to herald a "new world disorder," in the words of British diplomat David Hannay.

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