Christopher Coyne

“Exporting Democracy” Cannot Work


Christopher Coyne, author of After War: The Political Economy of Exporting Democracy, discusses the economics of American empire, the true motivations behind the slogan of “spreading democracy,” the domestic problems of intervention including bloated budgets, bureaucracies and lost liberty, how politicians, bureaucrats, and government contractors’ incentives are the opposite of private business – success is punished and failure is rewarded, leading to increased budgets, more employees and more power, the thoroughly bipartisan crony capitalism in Washington DC, the reasons why Germany and Japan were “successful” interventions and the urgent need for renewed skepticism towards the government among the American population.

MP3 here. (32:30)

Christopher Coyne is an assistant professor of economics at West Virginia University. He is also the North American Editor of The Review of Austrian Economics and a Research Fellow at the Mercatus Center. He contributes to the blog, The Austrian Economists. His book, After War: The Political Economy of Exporting Democracy, published by Stanford University Press, is now available.

2 thoughts on “Christopher Coyne”

  1. 9/10.

    But ‘fraid I’m not buying the complete dismissal of the Marshall Plan.

    Yes, you can rebuild the physical structures, and if there’s nobody to work in them you’ll accomplish squat.

    But if the people are there, ready to go, and you rebuild the infrastructure, you will kickstart proceedings.

    (Contrast with what happened on the other side of the Iron Curtain. Instead of helping rebuild, the Soviets pretty much helped themselves to whatever wasn’t nailed down, and rubbed salt into the wound by imposing their own tyranny on the ‘liberated’.)

    The big difference between Iraq and either Germany or Japan was that in the latter two you had people with experience of running modern, unified, industrial nations, both in public and private enterprise, and they were just waiting for the rubble to be cleared so they could get on with it.

    In Iraq, a pre-modern, semi-tribal society held together by fear and a few bits of string even before the invasion, the ‘reconstruction’ was doomed before it began.

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