Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty


T he causes of political instability and state failure have become growing concerns for strategic leaders and national security professionals because the United States is much more likely to deploy force in countries experiencing such conditions than to engage a peer competitor in a conventional war. The authors of Why Nations Fail provide a compelling explanation for state failure that is all the more rare because it has value for both practitioners and scholars of national security. The good news to be derived from the authors’ thesis is that problems associated with state failure need not be viewed with a sense of fatalism because the causes do not grow from some immutable material factor like geography or ethnicity, but rather are manmade. The bad news is that the causes of instability lie with institutional configurations which, while manmade, can prove intractable. Consequently, the prospects for successful stability and nation-building operations may be quite slim. The authors begin to support their thesis by comparing conditions between Nogales, Arizona, and Nogales, Mexico, to show that neither geography nor ethnicity can account for differences. The value of the analysis provided by the authors for both the academic and policymaking audience will become apparent from the following summary of their thesis and the evidence they use to support it.

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@inproceedings{Acemoglu2011WhyNF, title={Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty}, author={Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson}, year={2011} }