Ungoverned Territories: Understanding and Reducing Terrorism Risks

Ungoverned Territories: Understanding and Reducing Terrorism Risks

Ungoverned Territories: Understanding and Reducing Terrorism Risks

Ungoverned Territories: Understanding and Reducing Terrorism Risks

Synopsis

Using a two-tiered framework areas applied to eight case studies from around the globe, the authors of this ground-breaking work seek to understand the conditions that give rise to ungoverned territories and make them conducive to a terrorist or insurgent presence. They also develop strategies to improve the U.S. ability to mitigate their effects on U.S. security interests.

Excerpt

Since the end of the Cold War, failed or failing states and ungoverned territories within otherwise viable states have become a more common international phenomenon. Many of the crises that have required intervention by U.S. or international forces were produced by the collapse or absence of state authority. These ungoverned territories generate all manner of security problems, such as civil conflict and humanitarian crises, arms and drug smuggling, piracy, and refugee flows. They threaten regional stability and security and generate demands on U.S. military resources. The problem of dealing with ungoverned areas has taken on increased urgency since 9/11, which demonstrated how terrorists can use sanctuaries in the most remote and hitherto ignored regions of the world to mount devastating attacks against the United States and its friends and allies.

The objective of this RAND Corporation study is to understand the conditions that give rise to ungoverned territories and their effects on U.S. security interests and to develop strategies to improve the U.S. ability to mitigate these effects—in particular, to reduce the threat posed by terrorists operating within or from these territories. The study is based on an analysis of eight case studies.

Our research approach is as follows: We first identify and analyze the attributes of ungoverned territories, which we refer to as “ungovernability,” on the basis of four variables. Second, since not all ungoverned territories are equally hospitable to terrorist and insurgent groups, we identify and analyze what we call “conduciveness to terrorist presence” on the basis of four other variables. Using this two-part framework, we next conduct a comparative analysis of the eight case studies. Finally, we derive the implications of our analysis for the U.S. government, the Department of Defense, and the U.S. Air Force.

In developing the methodology for this study, we entered somewhat of an analytical terra incognita. There is a literature about failed states and civil conflict, and various analysts and policymakers have referred to ungoverned territories as a security problem. But to our knowledge, there has been no concerted effort to define and analyze ungoverned territories as a category of security challenges. We hope that this work . . .

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