James Thuo Gathii  • 03 Oct 2011

Failing Failed States: A Response to John Yoo

In Fixing Failed States, John Yoo shows why intervening states that seek to massively transform the social, economic, and political framework of failed states aim to do too much and ultimately fail. Yoo proposes that the role of intervening states should be minimal-enforcing power-sharing agreements between competing groups within failed states, rather than seeking to massively transform them into parliamentary democracies. To give a fair reply to Yoo’s well-argued essay, Part I will outline in some detail the major highlights of his argument and its rationale. In Part II, I will offer my response.In my view, Yoo overstates the benefits of loosening the prohibition against the use of force and the rule that occupied countries be restored to full sovereignty. By proceeding primarily from a security perspective, he offers a military solution that risks exacerbating rather than resolving the problem of failed states. His argument would have been more powerful if it were backed up by persuasive evidence and case studies to support the efficacy of his proposals. Ultimately, I disagree with the means Yoo proposes to fix failed states.