NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


September 16, 2005

A recently published index by Foreign Policy and the Fund for Peace ranks countries that are considered "failed states." These areas pose a serious threat to world security, say the researchers, because of an absence of state power. But this view is false, says Alvaro Vargas Llosa of the Center on Global Prosperity. He contends that it is precisely the presence of centralized power and the lack of individual-based rights that creates insecurity in these countries.


  • The Ivory Coast tops the index, but its problems are not due to a lack of centralized power; indeed, the centralization of the state has created various factions vying for control.
  • The Democratic Republic of Congo, which ranks second, was a highly-centralized dictatorship for three decades under Mobuto; in 1997, his replacement, Kabila, still retains a centralized power structure.
  • Rwanda and Burundi, which rank 12th and 17th respectively, are other examples of stratification caused by too much state power; after the Hutus gained independence in Rwanda, they used government power to oppress the Tutsis, who eventually came to power and forced the Hutus to flee to the Congo.
  • Venezuela, which ranks 21st, is another example of too much state power; the government owns the oil, which accounts for 85 percent of the country's exports.

Also among the "failed states" is Peru, where excessive government regulation and taxation have created a black market that comprises about 70 percent of the economy.

Foreign Policy correctly warns that "2 billion people live in insecure states." However, it is too much government, not too little, that accounts for such instability.

Source: Alvaro Vargas Llosa, "The Failure of States," The Independent Institute, September 8, 2005.

For Failed States Index:


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