I spent 2004 with the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa ("CJTF-HoA") as part of the Global War on Terrorism ("GWOT").
Although CJTF-HoA did not operate there, what was happening (and what had happened) in the failed state of Somalia was often a focus. In the late 1990s, the East African Al Qaeda Call ("EAAQ") operated there prior to the 1998 Embassy Bombings and were believed to remain there in 2004.
Failed States came to interest me.
They seemed significant, not because they failed, state failure is not uncommon historically. They struck me as significant because who restored order . . . and on what template . . . seemed to be the dispositive issues.
I am not the first person to see a parallel between state failure and the fictional trope of the Zombie Apocalypse. David Wellington's three book series, Monster Island, Monster Nation and Monster Planet, use Somalia as the backstory for a Zombie Apocalypse. However, I think the difficulties that AMC's series Fear The Walking Dead has encountered have been attributable to (except for the 3d Season) focusing too much on the failure of civilization, rather than on how people attempt to restore order.
Fear the Walking Dead was introduced in 2015 as a spin-off series of AMC's The Walking Dead. Although set in the same fictional universe, it shared no characters, was set in LA rather than the Southeast and was set (when it began) right at the beginning of the Zombie Apocalypse and was initial intended to show how things had collapsed.
The show took as its lead characters Travis Manawa, a divorced Maori-American High School English Teacher living with his girl friend, Madison Clark, a widowed High School Guidance Counselor, and her two teenage children, one of whom was a heroin addict and one of whom was an honor student. Additionally, Travis had an ex-wife, a Mexican-American nursing student, and a son. A Salvadoran Barber and his wife and daughter were also introduced as main characters as was an up-scale African American businessman (and sometimes con man).
The first and second episodes were quite good, showing an increasing realization that things were going wrong. However, the show seemed to rush the end of civilization, culminating the First Season with a Federal plan called "Cobalt" which involved firebombing LA to halt the plague.
A more interesting approach might have been to show the Zombie Apocalypse spreading more slowly in LA, due to its more decentralized nature and the existence of alternative forms of social control to Federal, State and Local governments (such as gangs and possibly the film industry). With the spread of the Zombie Outbreak being precariously arrested by competing (and mutually hostile) forces.
The Second Season dealt with the cast being lead to Mexico by Strand, the African American businessman. The focus was on how Mexican culture was relatively more able to adopt to the outbreak based on how their culture viewed death. The season was widely viewed as unsuccessful.
The Third Season concerned a survivalist compound and their ongoing conflict with a local First Nation tribe (whom the survivalist leader, Otto, had cheated). This story became in twined with the story of a dam in Mexico which a Mexicana Engineer and her brother, a defrocked and alcoholic Catholic Priest, were attempting to use to benefit the local survivors. Daniel, the Salvadoran Barber (and formerly, a feared government operative in El Salvador, known as "The Angel of Death"), became their protector.
The Season culminated in an attempt to seize the dam by a Biker Gang called The Proctors, who were seizing key lines of communications ("LoCs") and other key geographic and cultural resources like the dam. In the ensuing battle, the dam was destroyed.
The Fourth Season introduced new characters, including Morgan Jones, formerly a main character on The Walking Dead. The Season also saw the elimination of two of the former lead characters, Madison Clark and her heroin-addict son Nick.
The villains included The Vultures, who awaited the collapse of other groups of survivors in order to loot their resources (and helping the processalong by releasing hordes of Zombies) and Martha, the "Dirty Lady," who wanted that people not help others in order that they remain "strong."
Needless to say, the conflicts seemed less interesting in the Fourth Season as compared to the Third.
It strikes me that this has been interesting television at times. It also seems that one way it could become even more interesting television in the future would be to look at how disparite groups in actual failed states seek to restore order.
The Proctors, in the Third Season, were trying to do what actual "Warlords" tried to do in Somalia after the collapse of the Barre Government in 1991: gain control of lines of communication and infrastructure, like port facilities, airfields and even hotels.
There was a time-jump between Season 3 and Season 4, how far have The Proctors gotten in the intervening period? Are they about to enter the Austin area where the main characters are operating? These are potentially interesting antagonists in that they are, personally, amoral, but what they are doing may be the most useful thing possible for restoring some degree of order.
An existing biker gang, like The Proctors, is plausible as a force operating to take advantage of the collapse of civilization. They already had an existing operation, had a shared "culture" and were used to working together. There are real world examples of such things.
In Somalia, for example, after 1991, a number of roles of the old government, including banking regulation, were undertaken by Al-Itihaad al-Islamiya ("AIAI"), a sort of Islamic Knights of Columbus, that had many members in nearly all Muslim Somalia.
AIAI was more of a "them" than an "it." Parts of AIAI took over the regulation of banking in the failed state. Parts of it undertook charitable activities. Parts of it waged an insurgency in the Somali National Regional State of Ethiopia. And parts of it were aligned with EAAQ, and gave rise to the Islamic Courts Union and Al Shabab. What existing institutions become when other institutions fail is an open question.
In the Third Season, one of the Survivalist Leader's sons was a lawyer and the leader of the First Nations group they were in conflict with was also a lawyer, called Walker. One of the interesting things about the "War Lords" in the former Somalia was that many of them were lawyers and not Soldiers. (Although, there were Soldiers like "General" Morgan and former Colonel Dehir Aweys.)
A potentially interesting concept to explore is who rises to power when things fall apart? Would it be lawyers like Walker or one of the Otto brothers, as in Somalia? Would it be criminals like The Proctors? Would it be Soldiers like Dehir Aweys in Somalia? Would it be someone like Daniel who has a checkered (but useful) background, someone like the historical Nathan Bedford Forrest in the US Civil War?
In a world that increasingly evokes Yeats's The Second Coming, fiction that explores what happens after the unthinkable happens may be as useful as it is entertaining.