We are in interesting times at the moment. We are about to have the first trial for piracy in a century (if you discount RIAA lawsuits) and it brought home to me what may be the greatest challenge the modern nation-state faces in the 21st Century, and that is the breakdown of the state itself. If you take the Libertarian definition of a State (and why wouldn’t I?) as the entity with a monopolistic control over the use of force in a given geographic region, Somolia has no state. Nor do large parts of Mexico and Pakistan. It is likely that these “stateless” areas of the world will grow and multiply in the current global economic crisis, spawning pirates, drug-lords, terrorists and other heavily armed non-state actors that attack state interests for political and economic reasons, perhaps both.

As the war in Afghanistan shows, it is difficult and costly to impose a state into a stateless region. I suspect “fixing” the problem is not going to be pleasant. In fact, we might see the west finding the idea of paternalistic no-Imperialism so distasteful that it will cede the state-building to regimes less squeamish, say China perhaps?

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