“Rogue States”

“ROGUE STATES”….In the post below, I used the term “rogue state” somewhat unthinkingly, and several commenters called me on it. I confess: it was sloppy writing, and normally I try to avoid the phrase. And since I don’t think I’m the first person to use the term loosely, it’s probably worth clearing up.

Wikipedia has a good discussion: “rogue state” is used almost exclusively by the United States, and has been used to refer to other states that: don’t follow international law, don’t follow standards of proper governance, try to acquire weapons of mass destruction, sponsor terrorism, reject human rights, squander natural resources, or just plain don’t engage in “good” diplomacy. Of course, that could refer to a very wide range of states; in practice, it mostly just refers these days to Iran, North Korea, Cuba, Syria, and maybe Libya?states the U.S. government doesn’t particularly like and doesn’t mind antagonizing. (No official calls China a rogue state, for instance.) Venezuela might find itself on the list soon, but right now it’s only a measly “rogue element.”

Doing a bit more googling, the term first became widely used in the Pentagon, it seems, in the 1989 Quadrennial Defense Review?when Iraq and others were first labeled rogue states?to designate post-Cold War threats. And even more fun: The Clinton Administration switched to “state of concern” in its last six months, but basically meant the same thing.