Friday, November 23, 2007

Christopher Coyne's "After War"

Christopher Coyne is Assistant Professor in the Department of Economics at West Virginia University and author of the new book, After War: The Political Economy of Exporting Democracy.

He applied the "Page 99 Test" to After War and reported the following:
In After War, I explore the constraints facing attempts by U.S. occupiers to “export” liberal democratic institutions abroad. I focus on two broad categories of constraints. The first category consists of constraints that are “internal” to the country being occupied. This includes such things as culture, historical experiences, and so on. The second category consists of “external” constraints, which are outside the country being occupied. One example of an external constraint is the U.S. political system, which directly influences the nature and dynamics of foreign occupations. In many cases the U.S. political system generates perverse outcomes in foreign interventions.

One specific aspect of the U.S. political system, which I analyze, is the various agencies and bureaucracies involved in foreign occupations. These bureaucracies often face competing goals and agendas that contribute to the failure of reconstruction efforts. On page 99 of After War, I note:

Michael Scheuer, in his analysis of the current effort in Afghanistan and the larger war on terror, has highlighted the tensions between the missions of the CIA and the FBI. As Scheuer notes, “At the most basic level, the FBI is meant to enforce U.S. law…The CIA, on the other hand, is authorized to break the law to gather information that helps defend the United States.” Note that it is the clash between missions that leads to these outcomes and not the malevolence of those within these organizations. Members of each agency pursue their respective missions, which do not mesh with the ends being pursued by the other.

Likewise, the journalist Robert Dreyfuss has documented battles between the Pentagon and the CIA as the U.S. prepared to go to war with Iraq.29 The main tension was between those in the Pentagon who supported the war effort in Iraq and those in the intelligence agencies who were largely opposed to the invasion.

David Phillips, who was involved in the early stages of planning for a post-Hussein Iraq, notes that during the postwar reconstruction efforts, “Relations between the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) and the State Department became increasingly acrimonious. U.S. officials vied for control over the Iraq policy.” Similarly, Larry Diamond, who was also involved in the reconstruction of Iraq, indicates that “A number of U.S. government agencies had a variety of visions of how political authority would be reestablished in Iraq...In the bitter, relentless infighting among U.S. government agencies in advance of the war, none of these preferences clearly prevailed.”

In theory, the various agencies and bureaus in the U.S. government will work together in efforts to “export” liberal democracy abroad. However, in reality, the incentives facing bureaucrats often lead to conflicts between departments and agencies which actually contribute to the failure of such efforts.
Read Chapter One from After War and learn more about the book at the Stanford University Press website.

Find out more about Coyne's research at his website.

--Marshal Zeringue