To Survive, Decentralize! The Barbarian Threat and State Decentralization

Orbis, Fall 2011

22 Pages Posted: 28 Sep 2013

See all articles by Jakub Grygiel

Jakub Grygiel

Johns Hopkins University - Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS)

Date Written: 2011

Abstract

What happens when states or empires face multiple and geographi- cally dispersed assaults along their frontiers from non-state, tribal actors? It is plausible to argue that the result may be state decentralization, both military and administrative. In some cases, this may be a conscious strategy pursued by the central authorities, but in others, it may be the result of centrifugal tendencies pursued by disaffected local leaders. This article illustrates this argument by describing the end of the Roman empire, caused by multiple assaults of barbarian groups. The lesson is that in such an environment a centralized state that arrogates to itself all the functions of security provision may undermine its own safety.

Keywords: national security, state formation, decentralization, non-state actors, terrorism

Suggested Citation

Grygiel, Jakub, To Survive, Decentralize! The Barbarian Threat and State Decentralization (2011). Orbis, Fall 2011. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2331788

Jakub Grygiel (Contact Author)

Johns Hopkins University - Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) ( email )

1740 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20036-1984
United States

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