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Confronting Poverty

Confronting Poverty: Weak States and U.S. National Security

Copyright Date: 2010
Pages: 244
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  • Book Info
    Confronting Poverty
    Book Description:

    Former Brookings Senior Fellow Susan E. Rice spearheads an investigation of the connections between poverty and fragile states and the implications for American security. Coedited by Rice and former Brookings colleagues Corinne Graff and Carlos Pascual,Confronting Povertyis a timely reminder that alleviating global poverty and shoring up weak states are not only humanitarian and economic imperatives, but key components of a more balanced and sustainable U.S. national security strategy.

    Rice elucidates the relationship between poverty, state weakness, and transnational security threats, and Graff and Pascual offer policy recommendations. The book's overarching conclusions highlight the need to invest in poverty alleviation and capacity building in weak states in order to break the vicious cycle of poverty, fragility, and transnational threats.

    Confronting Povertygrows out of a project on global poverty and U.S. national security that Rice directed at Brookings from 2002 through January 2009, before she became U.S. permanent representative to the United Nations.

    eISBN: 978-0-8157-0435-5
    Subjects: Political Science, Business, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. vii-x)
    Strobe Talbott

    Throughout history, conflict has arisen between and among major powers, often because a strong state tries to prove itself stronger than others. The good news about the current era is that the major powers are at peace; their going to war, while not unimaginable, is highly unlikely. That is largely because they have a stake—that is, anationalinterest—in the maintenance of a stable, prosperous and peacefulinternationalsystem. One big piece of bad news is the subject of this timely and forward-looking book: the threat that weak and failed states pose to the welfare of people across...

  4. CHAPTER ONE The National Security Implications of Global Poverty
    (pp. 1-22)

    On a deserted, dusty patch of dirt outside Gulu, in northern Uganda, U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright held Charity, an angelic baby girl barely one month old. Charity had been left for dead in a ditch beside a rural road, trapped in the arms of her murdered mother and wedged between deceased family members. The brutal rebels of the Sudanese-backed Ugandan Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) had raided Charity’s village and slaughtered as many as they could. Miraculously, one of Charity’s siblings, her five-year-old brother, survived the assault. He had been shielded by his mother, who threw him to the...

  5. CHAPTER TWO Poverty and State Weakness
    (pp. 23-41)

    Grinding poverty is the lot of nearly half of the world’s population. More than 2.5 billion human beings subsist on less than $2 a day—$730 a year—the equivalent of seven pairs of quality sneakers in the United States.¹ Poverty is more widespread than previously thought. Even before the recent global financial crisis, an estimated 1.4 billion people lived in extreme poverty (defined by the World Bank as less than $1.25 a day), up from the previous estimate of 1 billion.² The percentage of people in the developing world living below the international poverty line has dropped from 52...

  6. CHAPTER THREE Poverty, Development, and Violent Extremism in Weak States
    (pp. 42-89)

    In October 2000, a 35-foot craft approached the U.S.SCole,docked in Aden Harbor, Yemen. Operated by two Saudi suicide terrorists, the small boat was packed with about 600 pounds of powerful explosives. Within minutes, the bombers triggered a blast that ripped through the metal hull of the 9,100-ton vessel, a U.S. Navy destroyer. The explosion killed seventeen American sailors and injured thirty-nine others. It was powerful enough to rattle buildings surrounding the port. While responsibility for the attacks was initially unclear, law enforcement agencies eventually traced them to Osama bin Laden, who, according to the 9/11 Commission, directly supervised,...

  7. CHAPTER FOUR Poverty, State Weakness, and Civil War
    (pp. 90-124)

    Grace Ikombi was eighteen years old in the early 1990s when he fled his dusty village in Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), for the capital city of Kinshasa. His father was dead after succumbing to malaria, a disease that can be cured with a $2 treatment. His mother had been murdered by Congolese rebels for providing medical care to loyalists of the dictator Mobutu Sese Seko. Ikombi was exhausted and hungry. “I heard that the rebels at least were eating,” he shrugged. “So I joined them.”¹

    In Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, 1,500 miles to the northwest of...

  8. CHAPTER FIVE Feeding Insecurity? Poverty, Weak States, and Climate Change
    (pp. 125-166)

    Since the severe droughts of the 1980s, the nomadic herders and more settled agriculturalists of Darfur have been in conflict over grazing rights. Despite periodic tension and confrontations in earlier years, the two had previously shared the semiarid region’s resources and, at least until legal reforms in 1970, had local mechanisms for resolving disputes.¹ In a more anodyne telling of the region’s history, pastoralists, on their periodic dry season peregrinations, had been able to graze their camels and cattle on the hills around the farmers’ lands. The farmers allowed the herders to use their wells and shared the chaff and...

  9. CHAPTER SIX State Weakness and Infectious Diseases
    (pp. 167-201)

    The year is 1959. Within twelve months, the Belgian Congo will declare its independence and be wracked by a series of political uprisings. Private mercenaries will flood the country to protect mining interests. Six years later, a CIA-led coup will bring to power a brutal dictator named Joseph Désiré Mobutu, who will reign over the country throughout three decades of poor governance and corruption. By 1996 Congo will be entrenched in a devastating civil war that will kill millions. But all of that is still to come.

    The major event in the Belgian Congo in 1959 was neither an earth-shattering...

  10. CHAPTER SEVEN Conclusion and Policy Implications
    (pp. 202-230)

    This volume grapples with a broad spectrum of global challenges, ranging from civil conflicts and violent extremism to vulnerability to climate change and the spread of infectious diseases. Yet all the chapters converge on one point: poor states are often weak in critical areas of government responsibility, posing a risk not just to their own people, but also to regional and potentially American and global security. Poverty heightens the risk of civil war. Civil wars in turn have spillover effects, including serving as a conduit for transnational criminal enterprises, violent extremist ideologies, and deadly illnesses. Even when they are not...

  11. Contributors
    (pp. 231-232)
  12. Index
    (pp. 233-244)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 245-247)