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After War: The Political Economy of Exporting Democracy Paperback – November 7, 2007

ISBN-13: 978-0804754408 ISBN-10: 0804754403 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 248 pages
  • Publisher: Stanford Economics and Finance; 1st edition (November 7, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0804754403
  • ISBN-13: 978-0804754408
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #412,311 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"Professor Coyne is obviously a dove rather than a hawk. But he accepts the case for occasional intervention for humanitarian reasons or to protect US citizens. His main suggestions are to avoid nation-building types of intervention and adopt free trade, if necessary unilaterally by the US. It is perhaps déformation professionelle for economists to overrate the spillover benefits of the latter. But peace and welfare may depend on how far the next US president accepts the main lines of his analysis—a subject even more important than the current credit crunch."—The Financial Times

"Having recently had an opportunity to read After War . . . I've found myself trying out his application of economic principles to the analysis of armed conflicts, particularly in the case of America's current occupation of Iraq. This has proven especially useful."—The Economist: Free Exchange

"I view the key analytical point as focusing on the power of on-the-ground expectations to make the reconstruction 'game' either a cooperative or combative one. This is a difficult variable to control, but Chris offers a very good look at the best and worst attempts that the United States has made to manipulate these variables and thus export democracy. If you want to know why the Solow model doesn't seem to hold for Bosnia, or a deeper more analytic sense of why Iraq has been a mess, this is the place to go."—Marginal Revolution

"A brilliant and timely contribution that should shift the debate on U.S. foreign policy and state-building. In providing new insights from economic theory on what can be expected in post-conflict situations, Coyne guides us toward attainable goals and interventions that have a better chance of success." —Jack Goldstone, George Mason University

"[Coyne] believes forceful attacks against dictatorial regimes generally damage democracy. The recent invasion of Iraq is a prime example, he says in his new book After War . . . Most of this engaging new volume from Stanford University Press examines the economics and politics of present-day foreign policy . . . Liberal democracy cannot be exported in a consistent manner at gunpoint' is Coyne's central conclusion."—Charleston Gazette

About the Author

Christopher J. Coyne is Assistant Professor, Department of Economics, West Virginia University, a Research Fellow at the Mercatus Center, and an Associate Editor for the Review of Austrian Economics. He has published articles in numerous scholarly journals, including Cato Journal, Constitutional Political Economy, Economic Journal, Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, Kyklos, and Review of Political Economy.

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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See all 11 customer reviews
I hope we'll see Dr. Coyne's ideas put to use.
Paul Bauer
I highly recommend this book on this very important topic.
Mike Mertens
He gives an historical narrative of these efforts.
Brian Pitt

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Dan on January 16, 2008
Format: Paperback
In "After War," Christopher J. Coyne offers the best explanation of any current writer about how foreign policy works -- and how it doesn't work. Professor Coyne argues that the logic of economics -- critically, that people respond to incentives -- does not cease to apply in the international context, as much as we might try to wish it away. The building of a liberal democratic international order is not a matter of forcing people to bend to a great power's will, but of helping mold incentives in a way that enables endogenous creation in totalitarian, illiberal, and failed states of the institutions and habits of a liberal democratic order.

This is no simple matter of theory or conjecture. Pulling together quantitative and qualitative data from a variety of sources, Coyne examines empirically the US's successes in nation-building over the last century and explains these miserable results in a logical and thoughtful fashion. Coyne also effectively demolishes the argument that post-World War II rebuilding of Japan and Germany is a blueprint for other conflicts.

Too many writers and commentators focus on the problem without identifying a solution; Coyne avoids this trap magnificently. The book concludes with a chapter that explains clearly even to non-economists the power of trade and non-interventionism to help build a freer, more prosperous world.

While a breakthrough work interdisciplinary in social science, "After War" is highly accessible even to non-specialists and laymen. Anyone interested in a serious, thoughtful exploration of what's wrong with America's current foreign policy -- and how to make it right -- should read this book.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Steven G. Horwitz on November 25, 2007
Format: Paperback
Chris Coyne's new book is very clearly written and very accessible to the non-specialist, not to mention that it offers an excellent political economy analysis of post-war reconstruction. Coyne uses tools from across economics and political science to argue why attempts at such reconstruction are normally likely to fail. He makes particularly good use of ideas from Austrian economics (Hayekian knowledge problems and the Misesian dynamic of interventionism), public choice theory, game theory, and the new institutional economics.

His last chapter provides an alternative vision of US foreign policy, where free trade in goods, services, and ideas (unilaterally if necessary) is the path to economic growth and democratization, rather than military intervention, occupation, and/or reconstruction. As Coyne puts it, we need to model our commitment to liberal goals by using liberal means to get there. If we really do value societies of free trade and peace, how credible is that commitment if we continually try to enforce it at the point of a gun? Such attempts are both empirically bound to fail and ethically problematic.

Coyne's last chapter points to a new vision of US foreign policy and should stimulate further work by other scholars in the classical liberal tradition.

A highly readable look at an urgent topic of current concern.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Peter T. Leeson on November 26, 2007
Format: Paperback
In my opinion, After War is simply the best book on democratic nation building out there. Coyne's economic approach clarifies the essential elements behind a complex and often confusing area of foreign policy. His penetrating analysis provides a much-needed, coherent framework for understanding US military intervention and its consequences.

With rare clarity, After War reveals why American attempts to export democracy have occasionally worked but more often have failed. A must read for anyone who wants to think seriously about US foreign policy in the Middle East or anywhere else. This book is a 10.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Brian Pitt on March 29, 2008
Format: Paperback
If one is seeking an answer to the nagging question of why the U.S. led missions to export democracy were successful in West Germany and Japan, yet were anything but, in Somalia, Haiti, Iraq, and Afganistan one needs to read After War.

Chris Coyne marshals historical evidence in order evaluate U.S. led efforts to export liberal democracy through occupation and reconstruction. Coyne's benchmark is based on the "Polity IV Index" that ranks the political institutions of a country on (1) checks to executive power, (2) institutionalized procedures for citizen feedback of government activity, and (3) political participation. A +4 is needed for Coyne to concede that the reconstruction effort was successful. Iraq, Somalia, Afganistan, nor Haiti reach this benchmark. In order to recognize that Coyne gives reconstruction efforts "the benefit of the doubt," one needs to bring to memory that Bush claimed, in 2003, that Iran was a member of the "Axis of Evil." And Iran's "Polity IV Index" score is +4.

However, Coyne does not provide an index score in order to argue that the reconstruction efforts in Somalia and Haiti have not been successful. He gives an historical narrative of these efforts. These narratives bolster the understanding of the reader by having her appraise the reconstruction efforts herself through the analytical windows of public choice economics, game theory, Austrian co-ordination, social capital theory, institutional theory, etc.

Coyne's research reveals that the major aspects of reconstructing weak and failed states comprise two things. Foremost, finding and establishing a set of INCENTIVES that gives rise to the preference of liberal institutions. Secondly, occupiers must recognize, and pay due attention to, the CONSTRAINTS (e.g.
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More About the Author

Christopher Coyne is the F.A. Harper Professor of Economics at George Mason University and the Associate Director of the F. A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics at the Mercatus Center. He is also the Co-Editor-in-Chief of The Review of Austrian Economics and the Book Review Editor of Public Choice. In 2008, Chris was named the Hayek Fellow at the London School of Economics, and in 2010 he was a Visiting Scholar at the Social Philosophy & Policy Center at Bowling Green State University.

Chris is the author of Doing Bad by Doing Good: Why Humanitarian Action Fails (2013, Stanford University Press), After War: The Political Economy of Exporting Democracy (2007, Stanford University Press), Media, Development and Institutional Change (co-authored with Peter Leeson, 2009, Edward Elgar Publishing), and the editor (with Rachel Mathers) of The Handbook on the Political Economy of War (2011, Edward Elgar Publishing). In addition, he has authored numerous academic articles, book chapters, and policy studies.

Chris's personal web pages are and where he maintains the Doing Bad by Doing Good blog (

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