Rogue state or outlaw state is a term applied by some international theorists to states they consider threatening to the world's peace. This means being seen to meet certain criteria, such as being ruled by authoritarian or totalitarian governments that severely restrict human rights, sponsoring terrorism and seeking 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), and in a speech to the UN in 2017, President Donald Trump reiterated the phrase. However, it has been applied by other countries as well.
|The greatest threats to world peace according to WIN/Gallup polling:
States currently considered rogue states by the United States:
States formerly considered rogue states by the United States:
As early as July 1985, President Ronald Reagan stated 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 on this concept. In the 1994 issue of Foreign Affairs, U.S. National Security Advisor Anthony Lake labelled five nations as rogue states: North Korea, Cuba, Iran, Libya under Muammar Gaddafi, and Ba'athist Iraq. He described these regimes as "recalcitrant and outlaw states that not only choose to remain outside the family [of democratic nations] but also assault its basic values". In theory, to be classified as a rogue state, a state had to do the following: seek to obtain weapons of mass destruction, support terrorism, and severely abuse its own citizens. While four of the listed countries met all these conditions, Cuba, though known from repressing it citizens and its vocal criticism of the United States, was put on the list solely because of the political influence of the Cuban-American community and specifically that of the Cuban American National Foundation (pre-Jorge Mas Santos), whereas Syria and Pakistan 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, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Sudan and Afghanistan, were treated as rogue states as well. The US State Department at times labelled Yugoslavia as a "rogue state" because its leader, Slobodan Milošević, had been accused of violating the rights of his nation's citizens, including but not limited to attempted genocide in Croatia and orchestrating the Srebrenica massacre in eastern Bosnia.
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.
In the last six months of the Clinton administration, U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright announced that the term rogue state would be abolished in June 2000, in favour of the term states of concern, as three of the nations listed as "rogue states" (Libya, Iran, and North Korea) no longer met the conditions established to define a rogue state.
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.
In 2015, after the US reopened its embassy in Cuba and restarted diplomatic relations with the Cuban government, Cuba was removed from the list of State sponsors of terrorism and was no longer referred to as a "rogue state".
In the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, the Bush administration returned to using a similar term. The concept of rogue states was replaced by the Bush administration with the Axis of Evil concept (gathering Iraq, Iran, and North Korea). U.S. President George W. Bush first spoke of this "Axis of Evil" during his January 2002 State of the Union Address. More terms, such as Beyond the Axis of Evil and Outposts of Tyranny, would follow suit.
As the U.S. government remains the most active proponent of the expression rogue state, the term has received much criticism from those who disagree with U.S. foreign policy. Both the concepts of rogue states and the Axis of Evil have been criticized by certain scholars, including philosopher Jacques Derrida and linguist Noam Chomsky, who considered it more or less a justification of imperialism and a useful word for propaganda. Some critics charge that rogue state merely means any state that is generally hostile to the U.S., or even one that opposes the U.S. without necessarily posing a wider threat. Others, such as author William Blum, have written that the term is also applicable to the U.S. and Israel. In his Rogue State: A Guide to the World's Only Superpower, Blum makes the case that the United States defines itself as a rogue state through its foreign policy.
In 23 February 1999, Turkish President Süleyman Demirel described Greece as a "rogue state" because of its support to PKK. Demirel said that: "Greece serves as a sanctuary for members of the PKK seeking shelter and provides training facilities and logistics to the terrorists." 
Commentator Robert Ellis, writing in the British newspaper The Independent in 2016, wrote that Turkey under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan risks "being regarded as a rogue state" due to its increasingly authoritarian government, the deterioration of the human rights in the country, the Turkish government's involvement in Syria and its alleged support of terrorist groups.