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The Bush administration has increasingly acknowledged that weak and failing states represent the core of today's global development challenge. It has also recognized that such states are potential threats to international peace and security. But despite the rhetoric, it has yet to formulate a coherent strategy around fragile states or commit adequate resources towards engaging them. Excluding funding for Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and HIV/AIDS, the administration’s FY07 budget request proposes to spend just $1.1 billion in direct bilateral assistance to fragile states--little more than a dollar per person per year.
In this new working paper, CGD research fellow Stewart Patrick and program associate Kaysie Brown urge U.S. policymakers to consider increasing aid to fragile states and to think creatively about how and when to engage these troubled countries. The authors also call for the policy community to integrate non-aid instruments into a more coherent government strategy. To put its money where its mouth is, the U.S. should treat aid to weak and failing states as a form of venture capital, with high risk but potentially high rewards. This will require patience and perseverance, but will also reap greater rewards when successful.