Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Most states are weak or very weak!

I quote from the article:
Of 163 countries covered by an index of state capability devised by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), only 34 are classified as highly capable. State capabilities are rated as moderate in 38 countries. The majority of countries have either weak (33) or very weak (58) states.

The basic functions of a state are to provide physical security, efficient institutions and capable administration. If you can find a way to measure these things, you can get a rough idea of a state’s strength. The EIU’s index is based on an (unweighted) assessment of 12 indicators that collectively capture a state’s ability to deliver its essential functions. These are: its age, its recent history of stability, the security of its citizens, the level of corruption, the size of the grey economy, the rule of law, the quality of its bureaucracy, whether the government controls all its territory, the extent of foreign influence, and the degree of ethnic fragmentation, social cohesion and trust in public institutions.
The United States has proposed to promote democracy abroad, which is a nice ideal. It is probably even a better ideal  to promote stronger states for few people would not want "physical security, efficient institutions and capable administration" while there are powerful people who want theocracy, monarchy or dictatorships. But in spite of people wanting governments to do their duty, most don't. We might temper our ambition to install democracy, even if by force, with a little humility about how hard it is to build a good government, let alone a good democratic government.

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