An economic analysis of national reconstruction at gunpoint
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Can USA or other Western military forces establish self-sustaining liberal democracy in a country with a different type of politico-economic order? US government leaders believe they can do so, or so it appears, if we may judge by the dozens of attempts they have made since the late nineteenth century. From the Spanish–American War to the present wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, USA, British, and other Western leaders, relying on military force, have undertaken to remake defeated, subjugated, occupied, or colonized societies into market-oriented, democratically governed, rule-of-law systems. In the great majority of cases, these attempts have failed. In After War: The Political Economy of Exporting Democracy (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2008), Christopher J. Coyne brings economic analysis to bear in explaining why this quest so often fails. He also points the way toward a policy stance more likely to meet with success.
Coyne defines his terms early on. He focuses his analysis...