More from Plan B
"We talk about the developing world and the developed world, but this is the deteriorating world."
(I'm skipping info on environmental refugees and lots of wonderful info about how to tell if a state is at risk of failing)
A loss of political legitimacy is an early sign of state decline. Another characteristics of failing states is a deterioration of the physical infrastructure- roads and power, water, and sewage systems. Care for natural systems is also neglected as people struggle to survive. Forests, grasslands, and croplands deteriorate, creating a downward economics spiral.
Failing states are of growing international concern because they are a source of terrorists, drugs, weapons, and refugees. Not only was Afghanistan a training ground for terrorists, but it quickly became, under Allied occupation, the world's leading supplier of heroin. Refugees from Rwanda, including thousands of armed soldiers, contributed to the destabilization of the Congo. As the Economist notes, "Like a severely disturbed individual, a failed state is not just to itself, but to those around it and beyond."