After War

The subtitle is The Political Economy of Exporting Democracy, and the author is Chris Coyne, a former student of mine and now professor at West Virginia University, also blogger at The Austrian Economists.  Excerpt:

What do the data indicate regarding the effectiveness of reconstruction as a means of achieving liberal democracy?  In short, the historical record indicates that efforts to export liberal democracy at gunpoint are more likely to fail than succeed.  Of the twenty-five reconstruction efforts, where five years have passed since the end of occupation, seven have achieved the stated benchmark, resulting in a 28 percent success rate.  The rate of success stays the same for those cases where ten years have passed.  For those efforts where at least fifteen years have passed, nine out of twenty-three have achieved the benchmark for success, resulting in a 39 percent success rate.  Finally, of the twenty-two reconstruction efforts where twenty years have passed since the exit of occupiers eight have reached the benchmark, resulting in a 36 percent success rate.

You can buy Chris’s book here.  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.