"Failed State" and the War on Terror: Intervention in Solomon Islands


Tarcisius Tara Kabutaulaka

Asia Pacific Issues, No. 72


Honolulu: East-West Center

Publication Date: March 2004
Binding: paper
Pages: 8
Free Download: PDF


A heightened sense of vulnerability to terror has touched every part of the world, including the Pacific Islands, and has linked small nations to large in new ways. Since the September 11 tragedy, concern has risen that so-called "failed states," losing the struggle to maintain law and order at home, could become springboards for terrorism. Australia has shed its reluctance to intervene militarily in Pacific trouble-spots--such as Solomon Islands, whose descent into chaos and violence was sparked in 1998 by civil unrest on Guadalcanal. With regional support, Australia led a mission in 2003 to restore law and order. A short-term success, the mission leaves questions about its long-term ability to achieve either well-being for Solomon Islands or security for the region. Its emphasis on shoring up a perennially weak central government, and its inattention to other pillars of Solomons society, threaten to undermine its success and create a crippling sense of dependency. For the mission to succeed, it must empower Solomon Islanders to take charge of their own destiny.