Sunday, January 17, 2010

Leo's Analytical Approach: World's Worst Country

In the Economist’s The World in 2010, self-described as a ‘collection of forecasts,’ which present ‘a flavour of the year ahead’ or ‘a whiff of it’ (pg 11) – you’ve got to congratulate Editor Mr. Daniel Franklin on his sense-based expressions – there is an article entitled ‘The worst country on Earth (pg 91).’ The Economist’s answer is: Somalia. It is based on analyses undertaken by the Economist’s Intelligence Unit, which is located in North America. The article’s writer is the Unit’s Editorial Director Leo Abruzzese.

The cluster of factors that Leo puts forth to defend his argument are: civil war, poverty and piracy. [Intruding Q: Did Leo get that three factor approach from McKinsey & Co.?] Three paras are devoted to each of these three factors. The Civil War Para discusses the US’ consideration of Al-Shabab as one of al-Qaeda’s allies and the problems that this poses for People Like Me; the Poverty Para outlines aid dependency in Somalia and the struggles that Aid Workers encounter with regards to security – that argument can be applied to almost all conflict and / or post-conflict contexts, and at the turn-of-the-coin raw materials dependency can be applied to almost all countries in the so-called First-World; and the Piracy Para describes the impact of Somali pirates on world trade. The piece starts by stating that ‘calling Somalia a country is a stretch’ and ends with the forewarning that the ‘world’s most failed state, regrettably, threatens to become a bigger problem for the rest of the world.’ [Intruding Comment: I always admire the whole ‘failed state’ shebang = natural / or unearthly disaster. Was the Mighty-Nation-Sovereign-State God-given in 1648? I thought it was granted by a select number of Bald-White-Tuxedoed-To-The Nines-Gentlemen]. Out of a total of 72 sentences, only six sentences communicate about the conditions of those people on-the-ground in Somalia in terms of food, health, displacement etc.

The focus of this article, and the indicators employed, are all eyes and ears on the impact of Somalia’s domestic state of affairs on Western states, esp. the US, not on familial and social and economic life in Somalia per say. This confuses me. Can someone (anyone!) perform the subsequent straightforward – they’re v. obvious, which is why Leo’s analyses are especially baffling – calculations for me?

  • Ratio of # of people murdered and / or injured by US personnel across the world to # of people murdered / or injured by Somalis across the world in 2009;
  • Impact of US-driven credit crunch on global economy compared to impact of Somali pirates on global economy in 2009.

Final point: I like Pirates. They're like new-age anarchist anti-capitalists - intended or otherwise - employing old-age methods. I hope EU/or US warships discover copies of The Communist Manifesto and Modern Science and Anarchism floating in troubled waters. It would make my day! Can you imagine the headlines: 'The Communists and Anarchists are Back, but Black.'


  1. The other day someone asked me what Somali pirates wear. Its a good question, actually. Anyone have any idea? My bets are on Ray Ban sunglasses (real, not el cheapo knock offs), cargo shorts and t-shirts with clever slogans on them like "Kiss me I'm a pirate" or "I break for tankers". Thoughts?

  2. No eye-patches, peg-legs and parrots?! What the [insert]!

  3. Not that I've seen. Its a cryin' shame, indeed. Come to think of it, the Nouveau Pirate Chic opens up all kinds of possiblities: imagine a remake of the Pirates of Penzance, with Somali cast! Supplementing the Disney Pirates of the Caribbean ride with "pirates of the Arabian Gulf"! Captain Hook and a Somali crew accosting Wendy and Peter pan!