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Ghani and Lockhart, both former U.N. advisers to Afghanistan, spotlight the critical problem of failed states: countries where governments have all but collapsed, basic services go unprovided and terrorism and criminality reign unchecked-or even abetted-by a corrupt and predatory state. The authors do a fine job in emphasizing the centrality of a strong, accountable state in addressing poverty and underdevelopment. Unfortunately, their analysis suffers from its heavy reliance on management theory. Abstractions (such as "the power of networks," "flows" of information and capital, "webs of value creation") and business-school truisms ("underlying a sound management system is an effective supply-chain management") litter their turgid discussion. Fixated on New Economy conceits, they say little about the crucial task of quelling violence and lawlessness; instead they dwell on globalization-oriented development strategies drawn from Ireland, Singapore, Oregon and other regions that are not failed states. (Fatuously, they even liken Sudan's travails to those of troubled conglomerate Tyco International.) The authors do offer a persuasive critique of the ill-conceived, incoherent "aid complex" run by the U.N. and other agencies, which, they argue, undermines and supersedes weak states instead of stabilizing them. Aid officials could learn from these insights, but they don't amount to a comprehensive fix-it. (May)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.