In “Think Again: Failed States,” James Traub argues that “state failure” is a failed concept. Prioritizing efforts to prevent or address state fragility, weakness, or failure may seem impractical given the conceptual breadth of this systemic challenge. Like globalization, human security, or climate change, state failure contains so many aspects that it becomes analytically useless. But the need to rethink this garbage-can concept—everything can be thrown in—does not keep us from addressing the litany of well-understood challenges subsumed within.

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