intellectual vanities… about close to everything

what I read and what I don’t – Tue, 19 June 2007: Failed States Index 2007

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On Tuesday, 29 June 2007, I read that the 2007 Failed States Index (FSI) ranks 177 countries based on their social, economic, and political pressures. It is told, that the Ploughshares Fund supports the work of the Fund for Peace to produce this comprehensive index.

I read, that the FSI was first introduced in the July/August 2005 issue of Foreign Policy magazine. The second FSI was published in the May/June issue and the 2007 edition returned to the July/August issue. In 2005, there were rated 75 countries; in 2006, the Index was expanded to include 146 countries.

The index is compiled using the Fund for Peace’s proprietary methodology, the Conflict Assessment System Tool (CAST). CAST is used to assess violent internal conflicts and measure the impact of mitigating strategies. In addition to the risk of state failure and violent conflict, it allegedly assesses the capacities of core state institutions and analyzes trends in state instability. The FSI claims to focus on the indicators of risk and to be based on hundreds of thousands of articles and reports that are processed by the CAST Software from 12,000+ sources. Given the vast amount of data processed, it is impractical to make the articles and reports available directly to the public. Or so the hp of the fund does tell. Fun, fun…

Here are the “Twelve Indicators”:

Social Indicators
I-1. Mounting Demographic Pressures
I-2. Massive Movement of Refugees or Internally Displaced Persons creating

Complex Humanitarian Emergencies
I-3. Legacy of Vengeance-Seeking Group Grievance or Group Paranoia
I-4. Chronic and Sustained Human Flight

Economic Indicators
I-5. Uneven Economic Development along Group Lines
I-6. Sharp and/or Severe Economic Decline

Political Indicators
I-7. Criminalization and/or Delegitimization of the State
I-8. Progressive Deterioration of Public Services
I-9. Suspension or Arbitrary Application of the Rule of Law and Widespread

Violation of Human Rights
I-10. Security Apparatus Operates as a “State Within a State”
I-11. Rise of Factionalized Elites
I-12. Intervention of Other States or External Political Actors


Pentecost (from Greek pentecoste, “fiftieth day”) is the Christian festival commemorating the descent of the Holy Spirit on the disciples of Jesus, occurring on the Jewish Pentecost, after Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension. The disciples began to speak in the many languages of the people assembled there, a sign that the disciples should spread the Christian message throughout the world. Jewish Pentecost was a thanksgiving feast for the first fruits of the wheat harvest and was associated with remembrance of God’s gift of the Law to Moses on Mount Sinai. Christian Pentecost is celebrated on the Sunday concluding the 50-day period following Easter. It is also the name of the Jewish celebration of Shavuot (“Festival of Weeks”).

So far the Britannica Concise Encyclopedia. Twelve indicators like Twelve Apostles? Obviously the authors of this glorious index feel fired with a zeal similar to those participating in the miracle of the fiery tongues. But while the latter brought Christianity into the world, the former build an index with a nice colourful map. The map uses four colours: red for “Alert” (countries like Iraq or Afghanistan), organge for “Warning” (Russia or China), yellow for “Moderate” risk (Panama, Mongolia or Germany) and green for “Sustainable” Development (the stakeholders of peace like Switzerland, Netherlands or Finland). Some rankings appear prima facie just odd: what is worse in Sudan compared to Iraq or Somalia? Or what is worse in Moldavia compared to Eritrea or Guatemala?

The mentioned twelve indicators are the pillars of this miraculous ranking – zero to ten points in each category. “Highscore” means more than 120, minimum is zero points. Paradigm Norway reached 17,1 points. Failed-State-Ranking-Winner Sudan scored 113,8 points.

Germany ranks in the yellow category, the only point where I agree with the omniscient fund (although for different reasons, lacking the necessary omniscience).

All categories are weighed equally, an absurdity to the non-fiery-tonged mind. Let us assume, a country that is a paradigm of sustainability (grade 1 on every scale). Let us then assume, this paradisiac land of the movies decides to genocide a whole minority (10 points for Massive Movement of Refugees or Internally Displaced Persons creating Complex Humanitarian Emergencies, Legacy of Vengeance-Seeking Group Grievance or Group Paranoia, Chronic and Sustained Human Flight, Uneven Economic Development along Group Lines, Sharp and/or Severe Economic Decline, Criminalization and/or Delegitimization of the State, Progressive Deterioration of Public Services, Suspension or Arbitrary Application of the Rule of Law and Widespread Violation of Human Rights, and Intervention of Other States or External Political Actors). Paradise with rotting corpses of a whole minority would score just yellow – interesting reading of the word “moderation”.

But there is more hidden to those who are lacking the holy spirit behind the fund’s statistics. Germany: in terms of demographics 3,9 – overaging, sure. Italy, not having any higher birth rate: 3,6. Are Italians dying faster to make up for the gained points? Refugee issues: 4,8 for Germany – the third highest score. (Restrictive imigration policy in Finland wins with 1,6 here.)
Fund for Peace seems to agree with Mr. Schaeuble – the liberal imigration policy has to come to an end. What is needed is peace, not migration. But mind, that has nothing to do with paranoia. That is another score.

“Group Paranoia” seems to deal with marginalisation of social groups within societies whereby those perceived as lacking desirable traits or deviating from the group norms tend to be excluded by wider society and ostracised as undesirables, or with revengefulness after past crimes. Germany (4,9) beats Mozambique (4,7) and Southafrica (4,7). Oh my God, I did not know, how dangerous I live here! Israel and Lebanon instead (both 9), seem to be 0,5 points worse than the civil war in Somalia (8,5). My humble mind cries for illumination about the reason of this 0,5 points difference.

As of “Uneven Economic Development along Group Lines”, Germany scores 5,5 – bad compared to Europe, but comparable to U.S. (5,8), Saudi Arabia (6,5), UAE (5,2), Argentina (5,2) or Chile (4). This must be true. I am close to be broke almost all the time, and yet the covert German latifundistas and sheikhs keep spending on Ku’damm, not to talk of American tourists who want to become “a Berliner”.

The good news: Germany has to have no fear about economical development (3 points). There is no real Asian Attack, given the Fund of Peace scores: we are better than Singapore (3,4) and China (4). And our neighbours are even better, like France (2,8) or Sweden (1,3).

Even better we are in matters of “Public Services”, or so the Fund of Peace believes. Obviously none of the guys did ever apply for “Hartz IV” or had to make a tax declaration in Germany. Nor did missing school lessons and acquittal of suspects due to lack of teachers or judges count in any way. Nonetheless, 1,7 for Germany. Better are only the U.S. (1,4) and the public services of France (1,4), probably the reason why employees in the French public service called out on strike. They just cannot get enough. Good to know that the Luxembourgeois, who always pretend to be so happy in their Grand Duché, are suffering close to twice as much from their public services, the impostors (2,6)!

The following two categories seem to be overlapping a bit: “Suspension or Arbitrary Application of the Rule of Law and Widespread Violation of Human Rights” and “Security Apparatus Operates as a State Within a State” (Germany 2,9/2,5). As a term of comparison: USA 4,6/1,3, Sweden 1,4/.9, France 2,1/1 and Romania 4,8/3,4. It appears that politically motivated enharassment of minorities and violations of journalistic freedom are rather normal, while we are having trouble with Elite Forces, Private Militiae and Vigilants – and this twice as much as the U.S. Or did the Fund of Peace Experts mean the G8 protestors and soccer fans in Saxony, perhaps?

What I don’t read, is the real core in the pentecost miracle of political ranking: after these ingenious arithmetics even my unilluminated spirit knows, what a state has to do, to get better:

The Mission Statement of the Fund claims “to prevent war & alleviate the conditions that cause war”. Germany is lacking 9,5 points to reach the green zone. Now, Demography and Public Service were set. What is missing is a more intense economical support for former East Germany, in order to avoid war (and to secure any kind of economical development after that caused by the “Treuhand”). I can see that clearly. Next we need to reduce the number of imigrants drastically. Finally we do have to treat the insomniac Vigilants, or have them watch out against those shameless praetorian elites.

Women’s magazines love to publish “Am I Romantic”- or “Is my boyfriend sexy”-tests. They use different traits, regardless of their relevance and corelation, and the result is a score about romanticism and sex appeal. While the modern woman is very likely to take those test results as what they really are — a hoax, the Fund of Peace research is lacking scientific soundness to the same degree. Alas, nobody seems to have told them to use hairdresser’s magazines as a fore, if they really have to publish their gospel of descriptive and analytical statistics at all price.

You want to know, if your country whins the Fund of Peace Sexy Test? See:


Written by huehueteotl

June 19, 2007 at 1:14 pm

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