Kaplan Essay


Are Criminal Anarchy and the instability of West African States the biggest strategic challenges facing the Western World?

    According to Robert Kaplan in his 1994 article, “The Coming Anarchy”, “West Africa is becoming the symbol of worldwide demographic, environmental, and societal stress, in which criminal anarchy emerges as the real "strategic" danger. Disease, overpopulation, unprovoked crime, scarcity of resources, refugee migrations, the increasing erosion of nation-states and international borders, and the empowerment of private armies, security firms, and international drug cartels are now most tellingly demonstrated through a West African prism. West Africa provides an appropriate introduction to the issues, often extremely unpleasant to discuss, that will soon confront our civilization. To remap the political earth the way it will be a few decades hence—as I intend to do in this article—I find I must begin with West Africa.”   (Kaplan 1994)
    Kaplan’s main points are that the present state of Western Africa and the rest of the “Third World” could be the fate of the Western world if we don’t understand what is going on and act, and that criminal anarchy will be the greatest strategic challenge of the future. West African countries, faced with growing populations, pillaged environments, dwindling natural resources, mounting debts, and collapsing states and civil societies, are on the verge of being "failed states”.   Poor nations cannot follow the Western world’s example to solve their problems, since they lack the resources, strong governmental leadership, and political will required for Western solutions.   Kaplan seems convinced that if we (the “West”, and specifically the United Stated) do not recognize the dangers and challenges of increasing environmental, political, and societal collapse in the Third World, not only will their problems become ours, but might become our future as well.
    I will debate two points...