Total Scores Are Not All That They Seem: The Cases of Iran, Lebanon, and Russia

Published June 17, 2015 | By Hannah Blyth

In viewing the annual Fragile States Index scores for a particular country, it is important to look at the underlying indicators to properly understand a country’s challenges and performance. Even where a country may have an overall trend in one direction, its individual indicators may actually be heading in very different directions.Russia, for example, is the fourth most-worsened country year-on-year in 2015, and yet over the past decade it ranks among the most improved. How is this possible? Well, it’s complicated. Russia faces well-publicized challenges that have suddenly taken a turn for the worst. Its adventures and increasingly hostile overtures in its region are placing pressure on the country, as are the related economic sanctions from the West. Meanwhile, falling oil prices have further harmed an economy that banks on commodity prices being at a higher level.

Most Improved Country for 2014: Iran

Published June 24, 2014 | By Felipe Umaña

Iran, despite its hefty domestic and international political issues and obdurate theocratic government, has taken several gradual but important steps to improve its standing on the world stage over the past year. These improvements, which occurred in all but one of the twelve indicators analyzed, have made it the 2014 Fragile States Index’s most improved country.

The Year of Red-Line Diplomacy

Published June 24, 2013 | By Patricia Taft

The top several tiers of the annual Failed States Index (FSI) are often occupied not only by weak and fractured states at risk for conflict, but also states that have, over the years, been the proverbial thorns in the side of the international community. Each year these chart toppers, often impervious by either choice or circumstance to reform, test the mettle of world leaders tasked with coming up with strategies for dealing with their dangerous behavior.

U.S. Strategies on Iran Nuclear Development

Published April 9, 2013 | By Kennan Hedrick

As pressure from Israel builds and international sanctions against Iran continually weaken the Iranian economy, President Obama has repeatedly asserted his policy to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran and his willingness to use force if necessary. In light of this policy, what is the best strategy to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran, and how should the U.S. pursue this strategy? To answer this question, this analysis evaluates U.S.-led military action, United Nations Security Council (UNSC) authorized use of force, and the dual-track strategy of sanctions and negotiations. Given the high costs of military action and the inability of the UNSC to authorize the use of force against Iran, maintaining a dual-track strategy is the best strategy for the U.S. to pursue to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran.