Recently, Foreign Policy published an index of some 60 countries at risk of failure and collapse. Notably, several of them are responsible for supplying us with oil--Venezuela, Nigeria, Russia, and (surprise!) Saudi Arabia. What Chaos finds interesting, however, was some of the criteria used to describe these basket cases:
"Uneven development is high in almost all the states in the index, suggesting that inequality within states—and not merely poverty—increases instability. Criminalization or delegitimization of the state, which occurs when state institutions are regarded as corrupt, illegal, or ineffective, also figured prominently. Facing this condition, people often shift their allegiances to other leaders—opposition parties, warlords, ethnic nationalists, clergy, or rebel forces. Demographic factors, especially population pressures stemming from refugees, internally displaced populations, and environmental degradation, are also found in most at-risk countries, as are consistent human rights violations."
Let's see, inequality of economic development, ineffective state institutions (FEMA? Iraq? Hello?), rise of religious leaders, population pressures (from south of the border, you think?) and environmental degradation...hmmm, sounds a lot more like the US than Chaos is comfortable with right now.