“One of the major lessons of 9/11 is that even superpowers can be vulnerable to the grievances emanating from failed and failing states,” said Colin Kahl, now deputy assistant secretary of defense for the Middle East, at an ECSP event at the Wilson Center in October 2007. However, “if poverty and inequality were enough to lead to widespread civil strife, the entire world would be on fire.”
“I think any in-depth examination of particular cases shows that there’s a complex interaction between demographic pressures, environmental degradation and scarcity, and structural and economic scarcities – that they tend to interact and reinforce one another in a kind of vicious circle,” Kahl said.
“It’s really important to keep in mind that any attempt to address…environmental and demographic factors should focus not just on preventing environmental degradation, or slowing population growth, or increasing public health. They must also focus on those intervening variables in the middle that make certain societies and countries more resilient in the face of crisis.”