If 2011 was the year in which the Arab uprisings showed the world that no dictator is forever, then 2012 was the year skeptics got to say, “I told you so.” It turns out that overthrowing an entrenched regime really is the easy part. From the ashes of the U.S. mission in Benghazi to the killing fields of Aleppo, the forces of chaos have imposed their will on the fragile green shoots of democratic order, sending once-stable states higher on the list.

The top ranks of this year’s Failed States Index, prepared by the Fund for Peace and published by Foreign Policy, are depressingly familiar. Perennial stalwarts Chad, Afghanistan, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo have returned, while Somalia has the dubious honor of being the world’s No. 1 failed state for the sixth straight year.

This year’s special report highlights three case studies of failed-state pathology: Congo (No. 2), a state in name only; Egypt (No. 34), a state that has had such difficulty realizing its post-revolutionary aspirations that Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mohamed ElBaradei says it has already failed; and Greece (No. 138), a state that seemed to have graduated to the First World but instead has become Western Europe’s very own basket case. (Don't miss Paul Starobin’s profile of Jeffrey Sachs and his controversial solution for eradicating poverty, and Charles Kenny and Justin Sandefur’s skewering of the grand “solutionist” schemes of Silicon Valley tycoons.)

If there is one happy story to emerge from this 2013 index, it is the case of Myanmar, which has gone in short order from international pariah to the darling of global investors, edging its way out of the top 25. And, as finance guru Mark Mobius details, sub-Saharan Africa is in the early stages of a gold rush that just might turn the Failed States Index upside down in years to come.

stripes
  • The 2013 Failed States Index

    The 2013 Failed States Index

  • Postcards From Hell, 2012

    Photos: Postcards from Hell

  • Can Silicon Valley Save the World?
    By Charles Kenny and Justin Sandefur

  • Why States Fail

    Case Study: Congo
    By Jeffrey Herbst and Greg Mills

  • Case Study: Egypt
    By Mohamed ElBaradei

  • Case Study: Greece
    By Joanna Kakissis

  • What's Wrong with Pakistan?

    'There's No Such Thing as a Failed State'
    An Interview with Mark Mobius

  • Is Jeffrey Sachs's Bold Plan to End Poverty Fatally Flawed?
    By Paul Starobin

  • The FP Survey: Africa Rising?

Facebook|Twitter|Digg