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The Biggest Threat to America

By February 18, 2009

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Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair
Director of
National Intelligence
Dennis Blair
Photo: Getty/Somodevilla
Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair appeared before Congress last week and said the number one threat to America is no longer terrorism. "The primary near-term security concern of the United States is the global economic crisis and its geopolitical implications," he said.

The economic crisis is leading to unrest, violence, and instability in a number of countries. "In recent years, it seems we've had more security problems from states that have been in trouble than we have from strong states that have been an adversary to us in the traditional way," added Blair.

International relations experts call these unstable countries "fragile states." Countries that have gone all the way around the bend are termed "failed states." And they are a serious and growing threat. These places tend to be where bloodshed, starvation, refugees, and disease pandemics thrive. They are also havens for organized crime, human trafficking, black market goods, and terrorist recruitment and training.

Somalia is the most glaring example at the moment. There is no functioning government there, so pirates are free to use it as a base for disrupting global trade and successfully collecting multimillion dollar ransoms.

More about fragile and failed states:

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