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Ungoverned territories - failed or failing states or ungoverned areas within otherwise viable states - generate all manner of security problems and can become terrorist sanctuaries. Using a two-tiered framework areas applied to eight case studies from around the globe, the authors seek to understand the conditions that give rise to ungoverned territories and what makes some ungoverned territories more conducive to a terrorist or insurgent presence than others. On the basis of this ground-breaking analytical work, they identify three types of ungoverned territories and their effects on U.S. security interests and develop strategies to improve the U.S. ability to mitigate these effects.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    Understanding Lack of Governance

    Angel Rabasa and John E. Peters

  • Chapter Two

    Dimensions of Ungovernability

    Angel Rabasa and John E. Peters

  • Chapter Three

    Dimensions of Conduciveness

    Angel Rabasa and John E. Peters

  • Chapter Four

    Comparative Analysis of Case Studies

    Angel Rabasa and John E. Peters

  • Chapter Five

    Conclusions and Recommendations

    John E. Peters and Jennifer Moroney

  • Chapter Six

    Case Study: The Pakistani-Afghan Border Region

    Peter Chalk

  • Chapter Seven

    Case Study: The Arabian Peninsula

    Theodore Karasik and Kim Cragin

  • Chapter Eight

    Case Study: The Sulawesi-Mindanao Arc

    Angel Rabasa

  • Chapter Nine

    Case Study: The East Africa Corridor

    Peter Chalk

  • Chapter Ten

    Case Study: West Africa

    Kevin A. O'Brien and Theodore Karasik

  • Chapter Eleven

    Case Study: The North Caucasus

    Jennifer Moroney and Theodore Karasik

  • Chapter Twelve

    Case Study: The Colombia-Venezuela Border

    Steven Boraz

  • Chapter Thirteen

    Case Study: The Guatemala-Chiapas Border

    Steven Boraz

  • Appendix

    Assessment of Ungovernability and Conduciveness Values for Ungoverned Territories

Book Review Excerpts

"Well-illustrated and with valuable maps, 'Ungoverned Territories' offers readers a geographic look at the areas studied in detail in the text. This book is meant for military professionals of all stripes, counter-terrorism experts, senior government officials, researchers, and serious students of modern armed conflict. All will find it useful."

- Air Power History, Summer 2008

"By using a framework applied to eight cases around the world, the authors illustrate conditions that spawn ungoverned territories. They help us to better understand what makes certain areas more useful to terrorists and insurgents than others. Specifically, they highlight several types that affect U.S. security interests and propose strategies for dealing with them… 'Ungoverned Territories' should prove most useful to U.S. policymakers and graduate students."

- Proceedings, U.S. Naval Institute, May 2008

"Ungoverned territories are 'areas in which a state faces significant challenges in establishing control'. [This] book covers eight such areas: the Pakistani-Afghan border, Arabian Peninsula, Sulawesi-Mindanao arc, East African corridor, West Africa, North Caucasus, the Colombia-Venezuela border, and the Guatemala-Chiapas border. In most of these territories, fundamentalist Muslims want to establish a caliphate. A secondary issue is drugs. If left unchecked, the combination of militant religious extremism and drugs will destroy our way of life… The areas [the book] examines affect the U.S. in general and they are, or will be, battlefields for the U.S. military in the future… Clearly, 'Ungoverned Territories' is a worthwhile read for planners and those trying to figure out where the next conflict will be fought."

- Military Review, January-February 2008

"Ungoverned Territories: Understanding and Reducing Terrorism Risk by Angel Rabasa, et al. is based on a study of failed or failing states and ungoverned areas that serve as incubation sites for any number of terrorist organizations… The book stands alone as one of the few works in years to not only identify the myriad of challenges arising from these areas, but for actually presenting strategies based on a solid analytical framework capable of countering such threats. The book is a strong contender for the libraries of any reader concerned with America's role in the war on international terrorism."

- Parameters, US Army Ware College Quarterly, Winter 2007-08

The research described in this report was sponsored by the United States Air Force and conducted by RAND Project AIR FORCE.

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