“A warlord is a person with power who has both military and civil control over a subnational area due to armed forces loyal to the warlord and not to a central authority. The term can also mean one who espouses the ideal that war is necessary, and has the means and authority to engage in war. Today, the word has a strong connotation that the person exercises far more power than his official title or rank (if any) legitimately permits. Under feudalism, by contrast, the local military leader may enjoy great autonomy and a personal army, and still derive legitimacy from formal fealty to a central authority.
Warlordism was coined to describe chaos at the end of the Qing Dynasty and the birth of the Republic of China, especially after the death of Yuan Shikai, as the warlord era of China. It can however be used to describe similar periods in other countries or epochs such as in Japan during the Sengoku period, or in China during the Three Kingdoms, or in Somalia during the Somali Civil War.”
“Warlordism appears in so-called failed states: states in which central government and nationwide authorities have collapsed or exist merely formally without actual control over the state territory. They are usually defined by a high level of clientelism, low bureaucratic control and a high motivation in prolonging war for the maintenance of their economic system, mainly based on the extraction of natural resources.
With the collapse of the Somalian central government, groups of rival warlords constituted the only form of authority in some parts of the country.
Other countries and territories with warlords include Afghanistan, Iraq, Burma (Wa State), Russia (Chechnya), Colombia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan, the Philippines, and Pakistan (Pashtun Tribal Areas).”
“Warlords exercised widespread rule in China several times in Chinese history — notably in the period starting from the Xinhai Revolution, when numerous provinces rebelled and declared their independence from the Qing Dynasty in 1911, and especially after Yuan Shikai’s death, until the Northern Expedition in 1927. This was a period known as the Warlord era. Despite the superficial unification of China in 1927 under the rule of the Kuomintang (KMT) under Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, warlordism remained a problem until the victory of the Communist Party of China in 1949.”
“A failed state is a state perceived as having failed at some of the basic conditions and responsibilities of a sovereign government. In order to make this definition more precise, the following attributes, proposed by the Fund for Peace, are often used to characterize a failed state:
- loss of control of its territory, or of the monopoly on the legitimate use of physical force therein,
- erosion of legitimate authority to make collective decisions,
- an inability to provide public services, and
- an inability to interact with other states as a full member of the international community.
Often a failed nation is characterized by social, political, and/or economic failure.
Common characteristics of a failing state include a central government so weak or ineffective that it has little practical control over much of its territory; non-provision of public services; widespread corruption and criminality; refugees and involuntary movement of populations; and sharp economic decline.
The level of government control required to avoid being considered a failed state varies considerably amongst authorities. Furthermore, the declaration that a state has “failed” is generally controversial and, when made authoritatively, may carry significant geopolitical consequences.”