News | Oct. 19, 2017

Lecture Notes: Leviathan Redux: Toward a Community of Effective States

By Michelle Hughes and Michael Miklaucic Lecture Notes

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Beyond Convergence: World Without Order 

Chapter 14 

“Leviathan Redux: Toward a Community of Effective States” 

By Clare Lockhart and Michael Miklaucic 

Lecture Notes 

“If the 20th Century was consumed by the global struggle between incompatible ideologies—fascism, communism, and democratic capitalism—the 21st century will be consumed by the epic challenge of creating and sustaining viable states.” 


Viable, effective states are the only form of collective governance that has a proven ability to contain illicit networks. Weak states can pose as great a danger to our national security interests as strong states. Only recently, however, have we begun to examine how the convergence of terrorist, insurgent, and criminal networks contribute to state weakness and failure. 


Successful state building is possible. Arguments to the contrary, based on recent, perceived failures in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere, fail to account for significant flaws in strategy and resolve. In fact, external interventions, if appropriately designed, can effectively support successful state building and it is critical that we study the factors that enable success. 


  1. Planning, design, and leadership must be provided by the host nation, but how do you find the leaders? Elections are the obvious answer, but require infrastructure, process, and security. Leaders can, and often do, emerge as the process of state formation unfolds. But this only happens over time, and not by external pressure. 
  2. Premature sovereignty renders unready states vulnerable to internal power struggles, predatory and external adversaries, and corrosion by illicit power structures and corrupt insiders. 
  3. “In the litany of what must be done, arguably the most vital are the formation of the security sector and the establishment of the rule of law.” – Clare Lockhart 


I. What is the Westphalian State Model? A rule-based system of states, based on the concept of sovereign equality. 

A. Westphalian States: 

1. Are equal in Sovereignty; 
2. Have the right to their own voice – they speak for themselves; 
3. Have the right to their own religion; 
4. Have the right to their own customs; 
5. Have the right to their own practices with respect to their citizens. 

B. Diversity in wealth, size, resources, religion, culture, etc. is a given. 

C. Westphalian norms allow states to turn more of their attention to internal, rather than external matters, thus fostering human development and economic growth. 

Discussion: Are there alternative governance structures to the Westphalian model? Can those structures [family, tribe, clan, religious order, economic caste, etc.] facilitate the same, global rule-based effect? 

II. Essential Elements of Governance 

A. A monopoly of the legitimate use of force; 
B. Established rule of law and mechanisms to identify, adjudicate, and redress grievances; 
C. Prohibition and punishment of corruption; 
D. An inclusive national narrative that promotes citizenship; 
E. An economic environment where citizens can meet their economic needs; 
F. Mechanisms for managing state assets and budgets, and to security state financing based on tax-paying constituents; 
G. Accessible means for interaction between civil society and the state; 
H. Human capital investment and development; 
I. A reliable, accountable, and competent civil service to administer state functions and manage state assets. 

III. What is the “Sovereignty Deficit?”1 When a state cannot or will not: 

A. Govern the population within its borders;
B. Police crime;
C. Control corruption;
D. Balance its budget;
E. Control traffic through its borders;
F. Provide opportunities for its citizens. 

1 According to Lockhart and Miklaucic, 40-140 out of the 193, United Nations-recognized states are “sovereign deficit.” 


I. Why does state building fail? (Afghanistan, Iraq, Haiti, Somalia) 

A. Timelines are too short; measurements of progress don’t reflect the incremental and generation nature of true reform. 
B. It’s not about money – current aid practices throw too much money at the effort. Reformers are overwhelmed and corruption ensues.
C. We invest in projects rather than host nation policy and design. This investment prioritization leads to “project mayhem,” donor dependence, and a lack of host nation ownership. 
D. We fail to invest in leadership, management, and meaningful engagement with the affected populations.
E. International intervenors and donors get discouraged and overlook real progress.
F. Donors underemphasize financial management and the budgetary process.
G. The economy can’t wait. It’s imperative to get aggressive young men off the streets; the host nation must be able to pay for itself; and the alternative to a legitimate economy is either a criminal economy or war.
H. In a conflict setting, we empower the warlord constituency at the expense of the reform constituency.

II. Why does state building succeed? (Colombia, Singapore, Jordan) 

A. Characteristics of Colombia’s successful struggle to regain sovereign control over territory that had been lost to leftist guerrilla organizations, terrorists, and international drug cartels: 

1. Determined political leadership;
2. Re-capture of the military initiative;
3. Restoration of law and order;
4. Investment in social programs in marginalized areas. 

a. A critical point is that wealthy Colombians agreed to pay additional taxes toward these ends. 

B. Characteristics of Singapore’s development as a world economic leader: 

1. Determined political leadership;
2. A commitment to self-determination;
3. A national vision built around clearly articulated national values;
4. Uncompromising standards of public performance, coupled with robust investment in human capital. 

C. Characteristics of Jordan’s emergence as a modern, Arab state: 

1. Long-term external commitment (by the UK) to security and administration;
2. Determined political leadership;
3. Commitment to internal and external security for long enough to allow political consolidation to unfold;
4. A narrative of Jordanian citizenship (a “supra-tribal national culture”). 

III. Timing “Rules” (The length of time required for different levels of state building to succeed) 

A. Twenty-five (25) years (a generation): The period required to achieve incremental progress, “local learning,” institutional development, conflict management and mitigation, and socialization of new policies and governmental practices. (Jordan, Singapore, Colombia)
B. Five (5) Years: The time required after the cessation of hostilities that must occur without conflict if long-term security and governance are to be able to take hold. (Kosovo, Timor Leste)