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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best explanation of how foreign policy works, January 16, 2008
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This review is from: After War: The Political Economy of Exporting Democracy (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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