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The Ideology of Failed States
Why Intervention Fails


  • Date Published: May 2017
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107176423

£ 67.99

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About the Authors
  • What do we mean when we use the term 'failed states'? This book presents the origins of the term, how it shaped the conceptual framework for international development and security in the post-Cold War era, and why. The book also questions how specific international interventions on both aid and security fronts - greatly varied by actor - based on these outsiders' perceptions of state failure create conditions that fit their characterizations of failed states. Susan L. Woodward offers details of international interventions in peacebuilding, statebuilding, development assistance, and armed conflict by all these specific actors. The book analyzes the failure to re-order the international system after 1991 that the conceptual debate in the early 1990s sought - to the serious detriment of the countries labelled failed or fragile and the concept's packaging of the entire 'third world', despite its growing diversity since the mid-1980s, as one.

    • Offers an interdisciplinary approach to the concept of 'failed states' that will appeal to academics in different subject areas
    • Written in clear, non-specialized language, the book will be accessible to a broad audience that has an interest in the topic
    • Opposing many long-held beliefs about failed states, the book will be of use to practitioners at international organizations
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'The Ideology of Failed States reflects a lifetime of professional engagement with the subject of intervention in weak, war-torn and fragile states. Constructed as an extended critique of the concept of 'state failure', its institutionalisation, and the uses to which the term has been put, mainly by Western governments and Western-dominated institutions, Woodward persuasively and very effectively demonstrates that the concept of state failure is not only conceptually vague but also empirically thin and politically provocative. She has succeeded in lifting what she describes as the 'veil of self-evidence' that typically surrounds the use of the concept in public discourse and, especially, in policy-making circles.' Mats Berdal, Director of Conflict, Security and Development Research Group (CSDRG), King's College London

    'The history of external interventions aimed at 'fixing failed states' is littered with the detritus of repeated failures. In her provocative and persuasively argued new book, political scientist Susan L. Woodward draws on a wealth of empirical research and her own astute observations to skewer the conventional wisdom that has long driven these failures. Her central thesis is that the concept of failed states - a notion whose flaws she authoritatively catalogues - 'is not just a label but an ideology'. Together with its semantic siblings, it spawned both a set of strongly held and unquestioned principles and, most consequentially, a strategic plan of action for putting these principles into practice … Not content with leaving her inquiry to speak for itself or to append to it a set of anodyne policy recommendations, Woodward concludes with a provocation to both the policy and academic worlds to pursue that most elusive but critical of goals - cumulative learning.' S. Del Rosso, Director, International Peace and Security, Carnegie Corporation of New York

    'The Ideology of Failed States is a tour de force. The empirical examples Woodward presents are rich in detail and thoroughly curated.' Marina Henke, H-NET

    'In a very impressive follow-up to her work on the former Yugoslavia (Balkan Tragedy …), Woodward (CUNY Graduate Center) examines a myriad of failed states and finds that the reason intervention fails is not just the internal failures of these states.' S. Majstorovic, Choice

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    Product details

    • Date Published: May 2017
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107176423
    • length: 324 pages
    • dimensions: 236 x 157 x 22 mm
    • weight: 0.58kg
    • contains: 5 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction
    2. What's in a name?
    3. History of a concept
    4. State-building as solution
    5. Building an international apparatus for state-building
    6. The real problem of failed states
    7. Consequences
    8. Neither security nor development.

  • Author

    Susan L. Woodward, City University of New York, Graduate Center
    Susan L. Woodward is a professor of political science at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. She has more than twelve years' policy experience, including nine from 1990 at the Brookings Institution, Washington DC, where she wrote Balkan Tragedy (1994). Woodward has been interviewed frequently on television and radio, and has given congressional and House of Lords testimony. She created an analysis unit for the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR) during the Bosnian war in 1994, and in 1999, the initial research program on conflict, security, and development for the Department for International Development, including advice on its aid to Kosovo and Moldova, at King's College London.

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