Imperialism of the FittestIssue: Summer 2005
The international order that had its beginnings with the Treaty of Westphalia (1648)--in short, a world comprised of sovereign territorial states--is coming to a close. Many states today are not truly sovereign--not in the accepted Westphalian definition of a government possessing a monopoly of force and in firm control of the territory under its titular jurisdiction. As many political scientists and policymakers have recently discovered, failing and failed states make up the bulk of the Third World, as well as a large part of the former Soviet bloc. Not only are these countries increasingly unable to develop independently, they can pose a serious threat to international stability. Failed and failing states provide havens for terrorists and organized crime networks, and they can destabilize their larger region when internal chaos and conflicts spill over their borders to affect neighboring states--as the experience of West Africa during the 1990s aptly demonstrates.