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Obama's Arc of Instability: Destabilizing the World One Region at a Time

The "arc of instability" includes 97 countries. A startling number of these nations are in turmoil, and in every single one of them, Washington is militarily involved.

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After decades of overt and covert U.S. interventions in arc states, including the last 10 years of constant warfare, most are still poor, underdeveloped, and seemingly even more unstable.  This year, in their annual  failed state index -- a ranking of the most volatile nations on the planet --  Foreign Policy and the Fund for Peace placed the two arc nations that have seen the largest military interventions by the U.S. -- Iraq and Afghanistan -- in their top ten. Pakistan and Yemen ranked 12th and 13th, respectively, while Somalia -- the site of U.S. interventions under President Bill Clinton in the 1990s, during the  Bush presidency in the 2000s, and again under Obama -- had the dubious honor of being number one.

For all the discussions here about (armed) “nation-building efforts” in the region, what we’ve clearly witnessed is a decade of nation unbuilding that ended only when the peoples of various Arab lands took their futures into their own hands and their bodies out into the streets.  As recent polling in arc nations indicates, people of the global south see the United States as promoting or sustaining, not preventing, instability, and objective measures bear out their claims.  The fact that numerous popular uprisings opposing authoritarian rulers allied with the U.S. have proliferated this year provides the strongest evidence yet of that. 

With Americans balking at defending arc-of-instability nations, with clear indications that military interventions don’t promote stability, and with a budget crisis of epic proportions at home, it remains to be seen what pretexts the Obama administration will rely on to continue a failed policy -- one that seems certain to make the world more volatile and put American citizens at greater risk.

 

Nick Turse is the associate editor of TomDispatch.com and a senior editor at AlterNet. His latest book is The Case for Withdrawal from Afghanistan (Verso).

 You can follow him on Twitter @NickTurse, on Tumblr, and on Facebook

 
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