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 stopped 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 Belarus and Zimbabwe who 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.
Both Noam Chomsky and William Blum have used the term in the title of their respective books to categorize the United States as the biggest rogue state in the world and thereby highlight the irony and hypocrisy implicit in the use of the term by the United States.
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.
States currently considered "Rogue States" by the United States:
- North Korea
- Syria (The Assad and ISIL\IS\ISIS\Deaiesh zones)
States formerly considered "Rogue States" by the United States:
- F.R. Yugoslavia
Other possible "Rogue States"?:
- USA (as of 2017)
- Venezuela (as of 2016)
- Turkey (as of 2016)
- Saudi Arabia (as of 2017)