Living in hell

So much for rose-tinted glasses

Foreign Policy recently ran a photo essay with images from countries that scored the worst on their Failed States Index. The title? “Postcards from Hell.”

But as the photos here demonstrate, sometimes the best test is the simplest one: You’ll only know a failed state when you see it.

Really? Isn’t selection an issue here? If I went to the projects of Baltimore to take some photos, Maryland would start looking like a failed state pretty quickly.

The Failed States Index, a creation of both Foreign Policy and The Fund For Peace, uses a range of indicators, some more reasonable than others. The ranking of failed states is based on an amalgamation of these indicators, which means that some states get a similar ranking, despite being “failed” for drastically different reasons. This is why war-torn, refugee-laden Sierra Leone is tied with extremely-peaceful but desperately poor Malawi.

Sean Jacobs also weighs in.

5 thoughts on “Living in hell

  1. Lars

    June 28, 2010 at 11:18pm

    It’s also an annoying presentation designed to maximize the amount of pageviews to balloon advertising revenue. A great way to make money off of making the less fortunate even less fortunate .

  2. ZX-14 lady

    July 2, 2010 at 5:52am

    In truth, immediately i did understand it. But after re-reading I think i understand

    Sent from my iPhone 4G

  3. Adam

    July 3, 2010 at 12:26pm

    Since when was Sierra Leone war-torn and refugee-laden? The war ended quite a few years ago, now and the country’s been remarkably peaceful for a number of years.

  4. Matt

    July 4, 2010 at 5:15pm

    Adam – Perhaps I was being a bit severe (maybe it was the FP article influencing me!) – yes the country has been peaceful, but has it really recovered enough in 8 years to be tied with never-gone-to-war-*ever*-Malawi??

  5. Adam

    July 4, 2010 at 6:10pm

    See, it’s contagious! No, that’s a fair point. I don’t know enough about Malawi, to be honest… There are plenty of other anomalies, too. I think I’d rather be in Kenya than North Korea, for example. But overall it doesn’t do too bad a job (without the terrible sensationalism you rightly point out). I don’t think too many would argue with their top 7!

Comments are closed.