Fragile states, population growth and terrorist attacks: The fragility/terrorism trap.

FSI 2017, png

This figure shows a map of the ‘2017 Fragile States INDEX’

(Source: The Fund For Peace).

In this article I discuss the Fragile States Index, population growth rates, and terrorist-activity. There seems to be a relationship.

In my publications, I argued that population growth and (resulting) rivalries between states were the ‘underlying’ drivers of the war dynamics – the four accelerating war cycles – the System (with Europe at is core) produced during the period 1495-1945: A ‘growing’ system – its order (organisation) – needs periodic upgrades to ensure a certain balance and the efficient fulfilment of certain functions. War seems to be the method of reorganisation of anarchistic systems that lack other (non-violent) mechanisms to re-establish a certain balance and consensus.

The four war cycles the System produced during the period 1495-1945 produced four upgraded orders, that ensured that the population of Europe could grow from 83 million in 1495 to 544 million in 1945, it seems.

States also confront a multitude of challenges to accommodate population growth and a certain (internal) balance, including availability of sufficient resources, adequate education and healthcare facilities, a growing economy, and and an effective government that can ensure necessary and timely changes. Ineffective governance is not without consequences.

Not all governments are effective in ensuring adequate governance. The Fund for Peace yearly publishes the Fragile States Index: “The Fragile States Index (FSI) is an annual ranking of 178 countries based on the different pressures they face that impact their levels of fragility. The Index is based on The Fund for Peace’s proprietary Conflict Assessment System Tool (CAST) analytical approach. Based on comprehensive social science methodology, three primary streams of data — quantitative, qualitative, and expert validation — are triangulated and subjected to critical review to obtain final scores for the FSI. Millions of documents are analyzed every year, and by applying highly specialized search parameters, scores are apportioned for every country based on twelve key political, social and economic indicators and over 100 sub-indicators that are the result of years of expert social science research“.

In above figure the a map is shown of the Fragile States Index 2017.

In below figure, a map of the Fragile States Index of 2015 is shown. The reason I use this map (2015), is because I ‘link’ this map – state fragility in 2015 – to terrorist attacks that cover the period 2010-2015.FSI 2015 map

Below map shows the population growth rate estimates, period 2005-2010 (Source: Wikipedia, Data from UN).

Pop growth rate 2005-2010

Below two maps show the Global Terrorism Index 2016 (data until 2015). The GTI therefore defines terrorism as: “the threatened or actual use of illegal force and violence by a non-state actor to attain a political, economic, religious, or social goal through fear, coercion, or intimidation”. This definition recognises that terrorism it not only the physical act of an attack, but also the psychological impact it has on a society for many years after. In order to be included as an incident in the GTD the act has to be: “an intentional act of violence or threat of violence by a non-state actor“. GTI 2016 1 png

GTI 2016 2 png

In below table, the respective top 20’s of the Failed States Index 2015 (FSI), Global Terrorism Index 2016 (GTI) and Population Growth Rate’s 2010-2015 (PGR) of the worlds countries are shown.

I have marked the countries (5 in total) that have a top-20 ranking in all three indexes  with a colour; the countries that have a top-20 FSI and GTI ranking (11 in total) can be identified by their bold print. FSI/PGR-overlap is 7 states, GTI/PGR-overlap is 5 states.

Top 20 data png

This (still superficial) analysis confirms the ‘overlap’ that can be visually identified in the above maps: Its seems that – at least statistically – state fragility, terrorist activity and population growth rates are related phenomena.

States that lack effective governance, can not effectively ensure the fulfilment of the (basic) requirements of their growing populations and consequently become fertile basis for terrorism, it seems.

However, the interaction between these variables is probably not one-directional: Once states loose control (collapse), terrorism and anarchy complicate efforts to re-establish effective control, etc. It is a downward vicious circle, I refer to as a fragility/terrorism trap.

However, further research is required: It is important to analyse what terrorism actually is, where terrorist attacks are directed at and what purpose they are supposed to serve.

To be continued.