Rogue state is a controversial term applied by some international theorists to states they consider threatening to the world's peace. This means meeting certain criteria, such as being ruled by authoritarian regimes that severely restrict human rights, sponsor terrorism, and seek to proliferate weapons of mass destruction. The term is used most by the United States, though the US State Department officially quit using the term in 2000. However, it has been applied by other countries as well.
Rogue states can also be differentiated from 'pariah states' such as Burma (Myanmar) and Zimbabwe who allegedly abuse the human rights of their populations while not being considered a tangible threat beyond their own borders, although the terms have been used interchangeably.
A common presumption applied to rogue states is that they do not necessarily behave rationally or in their own best interests. In political theory it is generally believed that a stable nation, ruled by a leadership that is subject to broad scrutiny (though not necessarily democratic scrutiny), will tend to act in its own best interests and will not take actions that are directly contrary to its own interests, particularly not to its own survival. Rogue states, however, may not be subject to this assumption and, as such, relations with them may be more complicated and unpredictable.
United States usage
As early as July 1985, President Reagan had asserted that "we are not going to tolerate … attacks from outlaw states by the strangest collection of misfits, loony tunes, and squalid criminals since the advent of the Third Reich," but it fell to the Clinton administration to elaborate this concept. In the 1994 issue of Foreign Affairs, National Security Advisor Anthony Lake claimed "the reality of recalcitrant and outlaw states that not only choose to remain outside the family [of democratic nations] but also assault its basic values. Lake labeled five regimes as "rogue states": North Korea, Cuba, Iraq, Iran and Libya. In theory, at least, to be classified as a rogue, a state had to commit four transgressions: pursue weapons of mass destruction, support terrorism, severely abuse its own citizens, and stridently criticize the United States. While four of the listed rogue states met all these transgressions, Cuba, though still known for severely abusing its citizens and its strident criticism of the United States, no longer met all the transgressions required for a rogue state and was put on the list solely because of the political influence of the American Cuban community and specifically that of the Cuban American National Foundation. Syria and Pakistan, two nations which were hardly regarded by the United States as paragons of rectitude, avoided being added to the list because the United States hoped that Damascus could play a constructive role in the Arab-Israeli peace process, and because Washington had long maintained close relations with Islamabad—a vestige of the Cold War.
Three other nations, Yugoslavia, Sudan, and Afghanistan, were treated as rogue states as well. The US State Department at times labeled Yugoslavia as a rogue state because its leader, Slobodan Milošević, had violated the rights of some of his nation's citizens, including but not limited to accusations of attempted genocide in Croatia and genocide in the eastern Bosnian town of Srebrenica. In August 1995, the Croatian Army military defeated the Republic of Serbian Krajina, a Yugoslav puppet state in Croatia, forcing its Serb population to flee. On August 30, 1995, NATO began bombing Serb targets in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the Bosnian Serb Army soon withdrew from the vicinity of Sarajevo. On December 14, 1995, the Dayton Agreement was signed between the Balkans' three warring sides and the Yugoslav Wars came to a temporary halt.
The United States employed several tools to isolate and punish rogue states. Tough unilateral economic sanctions, often at congressional behest, were imposed on or tightened against Iran, Libya, Cuba, Sudan, and Afghanistan. The United States selectively used air-power against Iraq for years after the conclusion of the Gulf War in 1991. Cruise missiles were fired at Afghanistan and Sudan in retaliation for terrorist attacks against U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in September 1998. In March 1999, NATO launched a massive air-bombing campaign against Yugoslavia in response to the Yugoslav Army's crackdown on ethnic Albanian separatists in the province of Kosovo. After enduring three months of heavy NATO bombardment, the Yugoslav Army withdrew from Kosovo in June 1999.
The Central Intelligence Agency supported a variety of covert actions designed to depose Saddam Hussein, while Congress approved the Iraq Liberation Act in 1998 aimed at providing Iraqi opposition groups with increased financial assistance. Several leading Republicans who would occupy high positions in the George W. Bush administration publicly urged President Clinton in February 1998 to recognize the Iraqi National Congress (INC) as the provisional government of Iraq. Some of these critics, including Paul Wolfowitz and Robert Zoellick, hinted that U.S. ground forces might ultimately be required to help the INC oust Saddam. In all of these anti-rogue efforts, however, Washington found it exceedingly difficult to persuade other nations (with the partial exception of Britain) to support its policies of ostracism and punishment.
In the last six months of the Clinton administration, United States Secretary of State Madeleine Albright announced that the term "rogue state" would be abolished in June 2000, in favour of "states of concern," as three of the rogue states (Libya, Iran, and North Korea) no longer met the four transgressions which defined a rogue state.
In October 2000, Milošević was ousted from power and the US officially reopened its embassy in Belgrade. The final international sanctions against the nation, which had been in place since the passage of United Nations Security Council resolution 724 in December 1991, were lifted in January 2001; and in 2006, Serbia and Montenegro officially dissolved into two separate states.
The U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 ousted the Taliban from power and the US government, which no longer saw the nation's government as a threat, drastically improved relations with the country. The regime of Saddam Hussein was over following after the U.S.-led 2003 invasion of Iraq and relations with Iraq dramatically improved afterwards. Libya was removed from the State Sponsors of Terrorism list in 2006 after achieving success through diplomacy. Relations with Libya also became more mutual following the eight month Libyan Civil War in 2011, which resulted in the National Transitional Council ousting longtime Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi from power.
In the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, the Bush administration returned to using a similar term. The concept of "rogue states" was replaced by the Bush administration with the "Axis of Evil" concept (gathering Iraq, Iran, and North Korea). U.S. President George W. Bush first spoke of this "Axis of Evil" during his January 2002 State of the Union Address. More terms, such as Beyond the Axis of Evil and Outposts of Tyranny, would follow suit.
As the U.S. government remains the most active proponent of the "rogue state" expression, the term has received much criticism from those who disagree with U.S. foreign policy. Critics charge that "rogue state" merely means any state that is generally hostile to the U.S., or even one that opposes the U.S. without necessarily posing a wider threat. Some others, such as author William Blum, have written that the term is also applicable to the U.S. and Israel. Both the concepts of rogue states and the "Axis of Evil" have been criticized by certain scholars, including philosopher Jacques Derrida and linguist Noam Chomsky, who considered it more or less a justification of imperialism and a useful word for propaganda.
In Rogue State: A Guide to the World's Only Superpower, William Blum claims that the United States of America, because of its foreign policy, is itself a rogue state. Noam Chomsky has asserted the same position, with extensive documentation, throughout the years, especially with regard to the United States role in the Palestinian problem, its disregard for pertinent UN resolutions, etc.
The official term "State Sponsors of Terrorism" used for several decades by the U.S. State Department is roughly equivalent to the former term "rogue state", including for the most part the same countries.
Usage in other countries
While the term is used in the media of many countries, it has only been officially used by the United Kingdom and Ukraine. However, the expression has been criticized by France, Russia, and China.
- Clinton Announces New North Korea Sanctions : NPR
- Post–cold War Policy - Isolating and punishing "rogue" states in the Encyclopedia of the New American Nation
- Politics: Who are today's rogue nations?, Inter Press Service, May 20, 2001
- Rogue States?, Arms Control and Dr. A. Q. Khan.
- Minnerop, Petra. (2002). "Rogue States – State Sponsors of Terrorism?". German Law Journal, 9.
- WAMU 88.5 American University Radio, Washington D.C., Broadcast on 19 June, 10-11 a.m. / Daily Press Briefing, Monday, 19 June 2000, Briefer: Richard Boucher, Spokesman Department 5-10, "States of Concern" versus "Rogue states"
- "U.S. AGREES TO REOPEN EMBASSY IN BELGRADE - Politics - 13/10/2000". KUNA. 2000-10-13. Retrieved 2013-10-02.
- "Economic sanctions on Yugoslavia". The Lancet. Retrieved 2013-10-02.
- "Text of President Bush's 2002 State of the Union Address". The Washington Post.
- Pakistan, a rogue state unpunished, Sydney Morning Herald, February 13, 2004
- PAKISTAN: How Washington helped create a nuclear 'rogue state', Green left online, November 17, 1993
- Freedland, Jonathan (June 25, 2006). "Homeland Insecurity". The New York Times.
- Tony Blair: "The benefits delivered by the European Union and its forerunners have been enormous. The network of interdependent has helped countries across the continent develop stable and prosperous democracies. One example is the Former Yugoslavia. In 1991, shortly after the dissolution of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, two of the former republics Serbia and Montenegro retained the federation and was subsequently renamed as the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. However after the United Nations refused to recognize its status as a nation and recommended the new Yugoslavia to apply for new membership, which the country did not pursue. During the Yugoslav Wars the country was declared by some European countries as a rogue state. Following the Kosovo War, Yugoslavia reapplied for UN membership and formally dissolved the federation in 2003. It makes it much harder that ever before in European history for any other country to become a rogue state." Britain's role in Europe, November 23, 2001
- Ukraine keeps a keen eye on the situation around the ABM Treaty. We believe that possible actions of a party to the ABM Treaty in order to decrease the threat of a missile attack from a rogue state should not contradict its treaty obligations. We call upon the United States of America and Russia to find a mutually acceptable solution to this problem, to avoid a negative effect on START I and START II.; Final Record of the 845 plenary meeting, Conference on Disarmament, CD/PV.845, 9.3.2000.
- France Doubts "Rogue State" Danger Warrants Missile Shield, AP on SpaceDaily, May 11, 2000
- Allman, T. D. (2004). Rogue State: America at War with the World. Nation Books. ISBN 978-1-56025-562-8
- Blum, William. (2006). Rogue state: a guide to the world's only superpower. Zed Books. ISBN 978-1-84277-827-2
- Chomsky, Noam. (2000). Rogue States: The Rule of Force in World Affairs. Pluto Press. ISBN 978-0-7453-1708-3
- Derrida, Jacques. (2005). Rogues: Two Essays on Reason. Stanford University Press. ISBN 978-0-8047-4951-0 (Translated by Pascale-Anne Brault, Michael Naas)
- Litwak, Robert. (2000). Rogue states and U.S. foreign policy: containment after the Cold War. Woodrow Wilson Center Press. ISBN 978-0-943875-98-9
- Pendleton, Don. (2002). Rogue State. Harlequin Books. ISBN 978-0-373-61945-0
- Rotberg, Robert. (2007). Worst of the worst: dealing with repressive and rogue nations. World Peace Foundation. ISBN 978-0-8157-7567-6
- Thompson, Janna. (2002). Is There Such a Thing as a Rogue State? Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics
- Triplett, William. (2004). Rogue state: how a nuclear North Korea threatens America. Regnery Publishing. ISBN 978-0-89526-068-0