Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Scylla and Charybdis for the modern age.

On the Knife's Edge: Yemen's Instability and the Threat to American Interests | Center for a New American Security

This is an interesting little piece from the Center for a New American Security on Yemen's gloomy prospects as a state. I have long been fascinated by failed states and studied them extensively as an undergraduate. It's no secret that Somalia is the crown jewel of failed state examples. Depending on how one defines a failed state, examples can also include the Democratic People's Republic of the Congo, Sudan, Yugoslavia(it's fragments tell that story), Chad, Zimbabwe, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Plenty of others could qualify based on adjusted metrics.

Failed states also present a serious security conundrum for the United States. Being a skeptic of nation building projects and their implications, yet, a closet humanitarian, who also believes in the preemptive use of force when appropriate, the werewolf struggles with how to best frame addressing failed states from a security perspective. There is no question that failed states can serve as safe havens for our enemies and also can send out destabilizing shock waves to their neighbors, complicating anything and everything. Given that Somalia has devolved into a cesspool of piracy, terrorism, gangsterism, and anarchy, and that Yemen and Somalia share several distinctive internal traits, it would be terrifying to think of the implications of of having two failed states straddling the gates to the Red Sea. It would literally create a modern day "Scylla and Charybdis" for maritime commerce.

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