Looking Beneath the Total Score: United States

Published June 17, 2015 | By Nate Haken

As the United States heads into a heated political campaign season, candidates are beginning to frame their take on the social, economic, and political track the country is on and what they would do to calibrate those trajectories. Certainly, to listen to pundits you might suppose that the U.S. is either going to hell in a hand-basket or is the rock upon rests the salvation of the world. The Fragile States Index is unlikely to resolve that debate. The overall Index score has hardly budged over the last half a dozen years, ranging from a low of 33.5 in calendar year 2012 (Highly Stable) to a high of 35.4 in calendar years 2013-2014 (also Highly Stable). The U.S. may well be reliably highly stable as the overall score suggests.

“The Eyes of the World Are Watching.” They Sure Are, Governor.

Published August 20, 2014 | By J. J. Messner

It is easy to view the unfolding events in Ferguson, Missouri as an inherently domestic issue. Much of the domestic analysis so far has characterized this violence as reminiscent of decades past – or lands far away. In the words of Governor Jay Nixon of Missouri, “The eyes of the world are watching.” Governor Nixon was right to say so – but maybe not in the way he intended.

Government Shutdown and State Failure

Published October 2, 2013 | By J. J. Messner
 
The current shutdown of the U.S. Government, regardless of one’s political views, is pretty embarrassing for the world’s largest economy and (hopefully still) apparent beacon of democracy. Beyond the embarrassing – and some would claim, shameful – debacle unfolding on Capitol Hill, there is a more fundamental question that arises on whether this is a demonstration of the failure of a state. After all, our own definition of state failure includes “the erosion of legitimate authority to make collective decisions, an inability to provide reasonable public services.”

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.

Nuclear Meltdowns

Published April 19, 2011 | By Ryan Costello

Concerns regarding the safety of nuclear energy, particularly after the meltdowns at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl, have hindered its continued development over the past few decades. However, increasing energy demand and fears of climate change have led to a “nuclear renaissance” in which states have increasingly pursued nuclear power as a carbon-free energy source. Given the evolving nuclear crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, the future of nuclear energy is once again in doubt because of concerns about safety and health risks. When discussing the potential hazards of nuclear power, it is useful to bear in mind the cost of burning fossil fuels, such as coal. The burning of coal is a primary contributor to global warming, and it emits numerous hazardous air pollutants that likely result in thousands of deaths annually. Furthermore, around the globe thousands of coal miners die each year in mine accidents. Thus, the death toll from fossil fuels is higher than that of nuclear power.