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21.07.2004 Feature Article

Which Is A Failed State? US or Ghana.

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The term "failed state gained prominence in the social sciences at the end of the cold war when many scholars in the western world, in an attempt to understand the political upheavals unleashed by the sudden demise of the cold war on many third world countries coined the term. Journalists and politicians have since used the term variously. To date the origin of the term remains debatable but one source traced its popularity to Michael Ignatieff's "The Warrior's Honour" which gave a graphic analysis of the activities of war lords, militias and irregular armies in the Balkans, parts of Africa, central Asia, and the Caucasus. Who knows this concept could emanate from the figment of someone's imagination but such developments are not new to the social sciences.

Large volumes of books on international security, international relations and national security have all found it prudent to make space for the usage of this concept either to explain a development or to theorise state security in the post cold war era. Policy makers particularly in the US have cashed in on the concept and have categorised nations across the world in to one of the following "failed state" collapse state, "enemy state" "terrorist state" "state sponsoring terror ally, etc. It remains to be decided who gave the US the power and authority to decide on which states have failed and which have not. In the academia, there is no consensus fixed criteria for determing which states belong to either of the above classifications however, most of the analysis rely on political economic and security factors for explanation. Many Ghanaians received with great shock the recent pronouncement by a US politician who has never set foot in Ghana before referred to our beloved nation as a failed state.

My first reaction was to ignore such worthless comment as a gross display of ignorance but as they day come by my instinct instructs me that my silence would not salvage the image of our country from those comments. I have read with great admiration the publications by others explaining why even with our economic woes, we cannot be classified as a failed state. Since a lot of energy has already gone into explaining why Ghana is not a failed state; my piece is, an attempt is to analyse why in the contemporary world, the US is a failed state heading towards collapse state.

Matters of security are very crucial to the very survival and relevance of any state in the world since the days of the Westphalia conference that established the modern state system. A healthy, strong and viable state therefore is the one that is able to provide for the security needs of its citizens wherever they may be found in the world. The US has failed to meet this security requirements thereby subjecting its citizens home and abroad to various forms of attacks from groups and individuals, and harming the nationals of other nations as well.

In 1998, two US embassies in East Africa - Kenya and Tanzania were bombed killing many US nationals and nationals of the two countries as well. Then in September 11, 2001, the world witnessed how porous the much dreaded security apparatus of the US is when its own planes were hijacked and smashed into the twin towers and the pentagon. Even since that event, more than 95% of terror violence in the world is targeted at the US or its interest. Instead of cooperating with other nationals in the world to find ways of defeating terror, the US is hoping from place to place across the globe bombing places, killing innocent civilians and giving the terrorist the chance to elicit the sympathy of the world public opinion. In deed, the failure of the US security system has result in frequent warnings of its nations both home and aboard of terror threats―shifting the terror alert signs from yellow, green, blue red indigo or whatever at all times. If a nation living in perpetual fear cannot be considered a failed state then there is something fundamentally wrong with how the concept is used.

One of the defining features of a failed that is the gross display of arrogance by its leaders on the international scene; as well as conscious disrespect for all international establishments' institutions and laws. The US has shamelessly persisted pushing aside the collective will of the world and carrying on with what it deems fit. The US evaded Iraq when world public opinion showed that more than 85% of the world's population were against the war yet it prides itself as the oldest democracy in the world. How could you describe a nation as democratic if it acts against the will of the people? I wonder where Abraham Lincoln's ghost was when the Bush administration decided to gloss over the will of not only Americans, but also the world. The very international institutions the US helped established to promote world peace have been sacrifice for selfish interest. The US has not engaged in harassing the UN, it has persistently undermined the UN and displayed its contempt for it just before the invasions in Iraq. How will Woodrow Wilson feel about this? The disgusting behaviour of the US compel Nelson Mandela to infer that because Kofi Annan, the Secretary General is a black, that is why the US is putting up such a contemptuous attitude. Whilst Mandela may be right, the issue goes beyond that, a failed state is like a madman not in chains, always violence thirsty.

In our world today, international cooperation and international law have become meaningless due to the failings of the US. In a civilised world, only failed states employ violence as the first strategy for resolving disputes in the international system; and goes around calling other states by names such as the "axis of evil" to provoke violence from the other. It yet to be seen if the US image as a failed state in the international system can ever change.

Before you conclude that the all elements used in classifying the US as a failed state are international issues, bear in mind that after over 200 years of democratic experiment, the US still suffers from electoral malpractices ranging from fraud to rigging. In the 2000 presidential elections, the family connections as well as network of corporate friends helped to steal the electoral results. How can Al Gore win popular votes yet fail to be declared president of the US? Does it make sense? It only makes sense for Supreme Court judges appointed by Bush senior. One would have thought that after 200 years, the US could be a model for many states consolidating their democracy including Ghana, but as the facts present themselves now we better brainstorm our own brand of democracy before it is too late. It would also interest you to know that many supporters of the democrats in the US were disenfranchised prior to the election without their knowledge and were prevented from voting, but all these go a long way to explain the extent to which has failed as a state. Considering that civil, political, and individual rights have been limited beyond any one's imagination after 9/11, it is only fair for the US to muster the courage and accept being a failed state; that way it could gain consciousness and make efforts to transform.

In conclusion, we must place on record that even though Ghana's political development has been a mixture of military and civilian rule, we have never ever been a failed state and would never be. We are a nation of civilised people, known for braving the odds to achieve our goals and giving others helping hand when the need arises. We may not be as old as the US in terms of democracy but we are certainly growing faster than the US. US as a nation is old but it is yet to mature, we are young but maturing faster than usual. Given the fraudulent way in which the US elections are conducted these days, it will be prudent for the Ghanaian government to send in Election Monitors to the US in the November presidential elections this year in that country as a way of giving their democracy a helping hand. Such Election Monitors must be highly skilled in the act of electoral politics to be able to unearth the frauds in that system. We are not perfect we can assist. Nobody in the US has any right to tell us which nations have failed. We all know that the only country with chronic failure is the United States of America. If you are not convinced watch Michael Moore latest Documentary movie on the 9/11 and aftermath or other books like "Plan of Attack and "Against all Enemies" and you will be amazed at the extent to which American have been deceived into believing that theirs is a safe world when in truth, it is a failed world. Whyte, Michael (Kpessa Canada ) Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.

Michael Whyte
Michael Whyte, 2004

The author has 6 publications published on Modern Ghana. Column Page: MichaelWhyte

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author(s) and do not neccessarily reflect those of Modern Ghana. Modern Ghana will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."

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