Short of the Goal: U.S. Policy and Poorly Performing States

Robert L. Ayres
May 23, 2006

"This volume explores the causes and consequences of state weakness in the developing world. It focuses on poorly performing states—states that exhibit a combustible mix of poverty and deficient government institutions that appreciably raises the risk of a collapse into conflict."

from the Introduction

"If it is to be effective, Washington's military and police assistance must address the crisis of governance afflicting the security sectors in recipient countries, not simply the short-tem interests of counterterrorism, counternarcotics, geopolitics, or oil."from "US Military and Police Assistance to Poorly Performing States" by Adam Isacson and Nicole Ball

Analyzing one of the most troubling, yet poorly understood challenges in the developing world, Short of the Goal sets an agenda for increased American effectiveness in dealing with failed states to promote economic development and international security.

The publication of Short of the Goal is timely. In January 2006, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice gave a speech on transforming U.S. foreign policy, underlining the challenge the U.S. faces in helping to transform poorly performing states into “responsible sovereigns.” The authors here provide in-depth analysis of country case studies, and detail the complexity of that challenge. Short of the Goal holds many lessons for readers interested in assessing current U.S. efforts at nation-building.

The volume begins with a primer for academics, policymakers and students interested in the poorly understood challenge of weak and failed states. The second section consists of case studies written by regional and policy experts covering Central America, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Indonesia, Myanmar, Nigeria, and Yemen. Building on these case studies, Short of the Goal then proposes recommendations to reform U.S. foreign and development policy to better meet the challenges posed by weak states.

The volume elaborates upon a 2004 report issued by the Center for Global Development titled On the Brink: Weak States and U.S. National Security, which put forward concrete recommendations for changes in the U.S. development architecture to address the challenge weak states pose for the global system.

Rights & Permissions

You may use and disseminate CGD’s publications under these conditions.