- 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: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #105,015 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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After War: The Political Economy of Exporting Democracy 1st Edition
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"[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)
"After War adds a unique perspective on the United States's ability to impose liberal democratic institutions abroad. In clear prose, Christopher Coyne combines the economic way of thinking with an appreciation of politics, history, culture, and social factors to expose why past efforts to export liberal democracy have failed and why we should be skeptical of future efforts." (Emily Chamlee-Wright Beloit College)
"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)
"After War supplies valuable historical context and offers new and vital perspectives on what is perhaps the major foreign policy and security challenge facing the United States and Europe at the start of the 21st century. It explains why the United States should never have intervened militarily in Afghanistan or Iraq and why it has no viable exit strategy other than unilateral withdrawal, leaving, as the Soviet Union did in 1989, a region awash in weaponry to be taken up by the next generation of insurgents, warlords, terrorists and other enemies of liberal democracy." (Public Choice)
"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 demonstrates convincingly that national reconstruction seldom succeeds, and he presents the essential economic concepts and principles that allow us to understand why it usually fails . . . Economists will gain enlightenment from Coyne's compact, well-documented presentation of a great variety of relevant facts from some of the leading cases of national reconstruction in which the US government has engaged during the past century." (The Review of Austrian Economics)
"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)
"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)
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.
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Top Customer Reviews
Coyne uses real-world examples and does a great job explaining the terms and concepts he uses. The book covers 4 main themes:
1.) There is gap between knowing what and knowing how – while we understand what we want to achieve, we do not understand how to actually achieve it. This is a powerful point made throughout the book and one that, unfortunately, is frequently ignored
2.) The recognition of constraints – he notes culture as the key constraint, especially in the short term
3.) The “Nirvana Fallacy” and negative unintended consequences
4.) The need for an underlying shift in preferences and opportunities as a requirement for sustainable social change
The chapter I learned the most from was Chapter 3 – “Why Can’t They All Get Along?” I feel that this chapter alone is worth the price of the book. It covers some very important concepts such as De Tocqueville’s “art of association” – how members of society come together to solve common problems without relying on government; Meta-Games (the overall goal) and nested games within that game and the challenges that result; and the role of change agents (these individuals often begin the process of change and can greatly help or hinder that effort). In addition to being relevant to “the political economy of exporting democracy”, all of these concepts also gave me more to think about in business transformation projects as well!
Coyne properly concludes that: “there is no quick or easy fix to the problem caused by weak, failed, and conflict torn states”. I believe he also makes a very compelling case that we need to use “liberal means to liberal ends.” As he notes in the first chapter:
"It is my contention that political, economic, and social change that is imposed at the point of a gun is more likely to be met with resistance and is less likely to 'stick' once occupiers exit the country. Among the key neglected mechanisms for fostering sustaining change is a commitment to non-intervention coupled with free trade and exchange, not just in physical goods and services but also in cultural products, ideas, beliefs, and institutions."
Coyne has written a very valuable book on a very important topic. I highly recommend this book and I hope it gets the wide readership that it deserves.
The author has built a framework which he has used to later analyze Somalia, Iraq and Afghanistan. Everything that his framework talks of is coming true and for those who have reservations about US withdrawal from the troubled spots around the world should look at this book once.
While the merits (or otherwise) of using force to promote liberty are worth debating, as are the pros and cons of removing barriers to trade, "After War" takes a slightly simplistic view of the first issue and appears to be preaching to the converted on the latter rather than making a compelling argument to a critical audience. Coyne's discussion of the merits of intervention and reconstruction - although including some interesting analysis of post WW2 reconstruction and institution building in Germany and Japan in particular - tends towards a simplistic analysis of the objectives of each intervention. By not considering that intervention may have competing priorities to the institution of a liberal democracy (for example, averting an immediate humanitarian or national security threat), his assessment of the effectiveness of each intervention is skewed - a tendency compounded by Coyne's focus on those interventions that appear to support his case (Somalia and Iraq) and a disinterest in other contemporary interventions from Bosnia to East Timor. Coyne's arguments that intervention is almost always counterproductive should be tested against the literature that makes a case for a "Responsibility to Protect" (such as A New World Order).
By contrast, Coyne's discussion of the merits of free trade was disappointingly shallow. While I am broadly in sympathy with his views, he has dedicated less than 10% of his book to what is largely a polemic for free trade that is not backed by even the level of analysis seen in his discussion of intervention/reconstruction. Similar arguments are made to much greater effect in The Other Path: The Economic Answer to Terrorism or In Defense of Globalization: With a New Afterword - if I wished to persuade a thoughtful sceptic of the merits of Coyne's views I would suggest looking at these works or similar instead.
Overall, "After War", while providing some useful insights and provocative arguments, is not as convincing that a more considered treatment of these issues could be. Coyne's clear enthusiasm for limited government and free market economics - from the perspective of an academic economist - perhaps needed to be tempered by some broader views to be more compelling.