*Tyranny Comes Home: The Domestic Fate of U.S. Militarism*

That is the new book by Christopher J. Coyne and Abigail R. Hall:


Their main point is that social tactics used in interventions abroad tend to come back and haunt us at home.  I am not nearly as non-interventionist in foreign policy questions as they are, but still I wish their perspective would receive a much broader hearing.  You can buy the book here.  Here is the book’s home page.  Here is a video related to the book.


Tyler didn’t learn from Iraq

People with any sense wouldn't have needed to learn from Iraq: history was available.

Social tactics come back to haunt us? Military tactics don't? Who were the goofballs that went to Iraq to create a free market paradise?

Who was the goofball who launched air strikes in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Somalia and Pakistan? Who was the goofball who assassinated a US teenager (Abdulrahman Anwar al-Awlaki) and waited years to try to excuse as collateral damage. You can't really blame Bush for everything - he was only attemptiing to cleanup Clinton's mess (bombing the daylights of Iraq in his day was no problem) . Who can't remember all the grief his father took from congressional democrats who called him a wimp for not taking out Saddam. Too bad we can't just pull the plug on this rotten failed republic we call the US, the stench of hypocrisy emanating from this reeking latrine of pieties is wholly offensive to all the gods.

Oy vey.

Obama did not invade Iraq or Afghanistan. That is 100% Bush Jr. I like his paintings, but I detest the Wilsonian foreign policy.

What can be laid at the feet of Obama is: the Libyan fiasco, refusing to stay in Iraq (the message from the administration never made sense, the PM was willing to suspend applying Iraqi law to coalition forces), and the idiotic surge in Afghanistan that was accompanied by a deadline for pulling out. Stupid and irresponsible, yes. But nowhere near Bush Jr. level insanity.

Theres that. I'm more oy veying the purple prose. "Pulling the plug on this rotten failing etc etc."

That and I cant remember which congressional democrats called Papa Bush a "wimp" for not taking out Saddam. Maybe someone can refresh my memory.

"But nowhere near Bush Jr. level insanity."

I'd say it was worse. The first four years of the war were crappy, but after 2008 Iraq was looking pretty good. The pullout really screwed everything up.

Even during the war though, the death rate for Iraqis was half what it was during Saddam's reign. You can argue whether it was worth it or not, but not a trivial accomplishment.

There might be some bidirectionally biased bases to claim that the death rate was half during the war compared to under Saddam. For example, oddities in categorization that would lead to the result.

It is possible for that to be true at the same time as Saddam having been pretty awful also been true.

There are more things in Heaven and Earth, TMC, than are dreamt of in your death rate statistics. There was a small thing called the Iran-Iraq war that happened during Saddam's regime.

Civil society in Iraq collapsed by 2006. It was barely beginning to mend in 2008. The precipitous decline in the death rate was achieved by paying off the Sons and absolutely crushing any Sunni insurgent element that refused to be paid off. That and building concrete barriers between Sunni and Shia neighborhoods. Not a long term recipe for peace.

The biggest failure of the war, which is saying something, was the ineptitude in stopping Iran. We overthrew a murderous tyrant and replaced it with a sectarian murderous client state of Iran.

Iran won the Iraq war. Whether that was preventable in the long term is a matter of debate.

The lack of the attempt is Obama's responsibility, the fact that it even needed to be attempted in the short run was Bush Jr.

In other words, whatever we can say about Obama's mistakes dealing with Iraq, they pale in comparison to the foundational, much more massive mistake of invading Iraq in the first place. Obama wouldn't have had anything to make mistakes with if not for Bush's top shelf blunder.

...they pale in comparison ...

I don't think so. Lives-wise definitely not. The invasion has save many lives. Dollar wise, maybe. Is the trillion+ that it cost worth the lives saved? and the increased stability of Iraq? In the long run probably, especially if Obama hadn't pulled the troops out.

Yes we know you don't think so. The problem with blind partisans on either side is you always know what they are going to say, and you get no insight from it.

Ad hominem or address the point. You chose the former, as would a partisan.

Also, we all know that if Obama had left them there or increased them you'd be ripping him for that too. Breaking a campaign promise, doubling down on Bush's error, etc.

"we" seems to be the voices in your head. Had he increased them, I'd been happy. Pulling them out was even decried on the democrat side. Very few people didn't know this was stupid.

Afghanistan - Clinton, Iraq - George H.W. Bush, Syria - Obama, Libya - Reagan, while the last three are more in the framework of the apparently endless war on terror and involve drones.

'You can't really blame Bush for everything'

Of course not - as noted by the hard left Fox News, U.S. presidents have been bombing various places for decades at this point.

'bombing the daylights of Iraq in his day was no problem'

It wasn't a problem in George H.W. Bush's day either.


"Libya - Reagan"

Libya - Obama/Clinton

You realize I was listing the first goofball to launch an airstrike against each country, right? Because Reagan is the answer - 'In this week’s podcast, we go back 32 years, to April 14, 1986, when President Reagan addressed the nation on the United States Air Strike against Libya. The air strike was in retaliation for the Libyan sponsorship of terrorism against American troops and citizens.' Watch here - https://www.reaganfoundation.org/programs-events/webcasts-and-podcasts/podcasts/words-to-live-by/us-air-strike-against-libya/

One of these things is not like the other.

You are right - Reagan's Operation El Dorado Canyon seems to have been targetting Gaddafi directly, and his life was only saved due to an Italian phone call that allowed him to flee his location moments before the bombs landed. 'Forewarned by a telephone call, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and his family rushed out of their residence in the Bab al-Azizia compound moments before the bombs dropped. It was long thought that the call came from Malta's Prime Minister, Karmenu Mifsud Bonnici. However, Italian Prime Minister Bettino Craxi was the person who actually warned Gaddafi, according to Giulio Andreotti, Italy's foreign minister at the time, and to Abdel Rahman Shalgham, Libya's then-ambassador to Italy.' https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1986_United_States_bombing_of_Libya#Libyan

Another great book in the same tradition is Mark David Ledbetter’s “Globocop: how America sold its soul and lost its way”: https://www.amazon.com/Globocop-America-Sold-Soul-Lost-ebook/dp/B003F769H8
Short and highly recommended, I learned a lot of things I was not aware, especially about the two Roosevelt. And it has a very actionable proposal about the military, very much in line with the vision of the framers.
Not an anarchist, rather a Jeffersonian classical-liberal.

Not sure what you mean by the two Roosevelts, who were related, but their predecessor was actually the underrated US president F. Pierce, who often gets the label as the worse president. He had the opportunity, and passed, on expanding the USA to include central America and Cuba. That would have been interesting and arguably changed the course of world history for the better (assuming Spanish traditions did not swamp English traditions).

Thank God that never happened.

Be careful what you wish for [you just might etc, etc]

It would have been cool, carlospin, the USA, the United States of Americas (plural). I often joke (and there was a joke protest candidate here in the Philippines who ran on this platform) that the Philippines would be better off if it was like Guam, Hawaii, Puerto Rico (which just got a huge Fed loan to rebuild their infrastructure). If it works for 330M, it would work for more. United States of Africa, anybody?

History is full of baffling decisions or acts that are submerged in victors version, what you read in textbooks, even at college level. Submerged, because they are not hidden, they are just mentioned “en passant”, as so obvious not to need to be explained, when, if you really think about it, they make no sense at all.
One example concerning FDR: why Hitler declared on the US after Pearl? I was aware of FDR dirty “Destroyers war” in the Atlantic, but I assumed that it was to help the British, not to lure the Germans. The book analyzes FDRˋs speeches related to the incidents in the Atlantic (plus an issue I was totally ignorant of, the leaking of Rainbow 5) and makes it plain IMO how FDR stoke tensions in the Pacific because it was his plan B to have his war with Germany. Hoover put it nicely: “once you keep pricking a rattle-snake, one day the rattle-snake will bite back”.
A TR example: why in order “to free” Cuba, the first thing the Americans do is to invade the Philippines? The book makes a strong case that the war was engineered by a small group of young imperialists to create for the US a naval base in the Asian Pacific, exhibit number 1 the extraordinary telegram of TR to Admiral Dewey: https://www.docsteach.org/documents/document/telegram-in-code-from-theodore-roosevelt-to-admiral-dewey

The book is not simply anedoctical thought. It is a comprehensive synthesis of how political evolution in the US forged their foreign policy and viceversa. Ledbetter is not a famous scholar, it is more a concerned citizen with a passion for the subject. Therefore he uses mostly secondary sources, which makes the book short and, in my view, very enjoyable.

from the book's cover, the "Tyranny" at issue is the American Police-State

the authors are extremely late in noticing this little aberration in modern American government

and TC seems a bit too comfortable with neocon foreign policy outlook

It is surprising to see TC's neocon comments and praises given that a good neoliberal is skeptical of central planning measures (of the World geopolitically mind you!) and knows that 'feel good' government measures will lead to probably disastrous unintended consequences and a plethora of downstream 2nd and 3rd order effects.

Was the French Revolution neo-con? Was Napoleon neo-con? Is nationalism where each country has distinct geographical boundaries and customs, not to mention languages, non-neo-con? Which is better, localism or globalism? Local roads, like they have here in the Philippines and the average speed is about 12 mph, with frequent stops and even speed bumps, or interstate highways?

The battle for thought rages, but keep in mind nationalism is a "Romanticism" movement of the 19th century, though I concur that globalization is a real modern phenomena, a continuation of late 19th century trends.

Yes, indeed. I would assume that if somebody understands and makes his own the superiority of the spontaneous order of the market, and the hopelessness bungling around of central planning in economy, be for ignorance or for the role of special interests, he would be totally skeptical of the results of open warfare intervention in other people business.

Given that the US geography, cultural clout, sheer size, and monstruos defense budget makes it virtually impossible for it to be attacked, any American act of warfare are “interventions to improve the world”, either a la Wilson (the war to end all wars) or a la Teddy Roosevelt (whatever makes America great).

But I feel that Tyler, much more than Alex, Don Boudreaux or most of his colleagues at George Mason, still believes that some lightly central intervention in economy can be positive, not only as a pure theorical possibility, but as an actual outcome. For example, I was surprised when I started to read this blog, how frequently he considers worth of analysis scenarios of anti-trust ruling, although in most cases he ends up suggesting against them.

Yet, according to research, militarizing the police departments actually makes police violence against less common. Brazil militarized the police and it helped to prevent police brutality.

"Yet, according to research, militarizing the police departments actually makes police violence against less common."

I doubt there's decent research that states that. Do you have a cite?

You might as well blame Bentham and his Panopticon. Policing crime and foreign adversaries is going to motivate increased surveillance even with less U.S. "militarism."

"It gives us alarming insight into incidents like the shooting in Ferguson, Missouri"

Shooting thugs like Brown reduces crime.

I think body cameras will help reduce a lot of unnecessary violence on both sides.

In the very long run, but short term, since police are not prosecuted in many towns and video evidence is often inconclusive (recall the body cam that did not capture the alleged planting of a gun on the victim by the police in New Orleans), body cams don't really cut down on violence say the statistics.

What would work, as they do in the UK and even certain big cities in the USA, is to allow citizens to sue police for a bad arrest and win money damages. But even in the USA with cities that have waived immunity from suit it's not easy to sue.

Am I the only one who wants to replace every occurrence of the word tyranny on this blog with tranny? Then there would be some really interesting topics. Also John Cochrane with John Coltrane.

As the daughter of a veteran, I begin with a personal note. War changes many into killing instruments. They are conditioned to violence and begin to track their environment for threat. Now remove them from war and place them in a civilian landscape. Those tendencies continue. They also become less tolerant of small infractions. How does this mindset impact our reaction to domestic and foreign issues?

The state's reaction to the Ferguson and DAPL protests was alarming. The press's lethargic response was equally disturbing. Dogs employed to bite protesters. Tanks, barbed wire, surveillance, high capacity guns, armor. All of these were employed to chorale and intimidate citizens.

The dehumanizing tendencies, perceived threats, surveillance, and militarization combine to create a combustible environment. Many Americans will simply shrug and employ what I call the short skirt/low cut blouse defense, "they (the protesters) were asking for it".

In Ferguson the government was riling up the protesters until the DOJ's investigation cleared the cop. I'll give them credit for that.

Same in Fla with Zimmerman. DOJ spending taxpayer money to incite the locals even though Trayvon Martin was the aggressor and state prosecutors wanted to decline to try him.

If you follow someone for several blocks and they eventually confront you, this does not give you a right to kill them if you get scared.

Assault Confront

If you follow someone for several blocks and they eventually confront you, this does not give you a right to kill them if you get scared.

He didn't follow him 'for several blocks'. He wasn't following him at all. He was loitering around waiting for police to arrive. Trayvon Martin if he didn't want trouble could just have gone up the back steps of Brandi Greene's home and gone inside. Zimmerman couldn't see him, didn't know where he was at that point. Instead, he deliberately walked 75 yards back up the alley between two rows of townhouses and began beating on Zimmerman.

You know nothing of this incident, and yet you give your supercilious opinions on it. Why not do something sensible and shut up?

The facts are that neither of us were there, and the guy who told that version of the story is the only one who's not dead.

War does not make people into "killing instruments." This is a leftist trope that has no bearing in reality. Veteran % of homicide in the US is almost zero. War veterans have a tendency to NOT shoot anything perceived as a threat, because they are trained and experienced. It's the thrice rejected police officer that is easily spooked that fires at the man with the cell phone.

If we want to have a rational debate on how to respond to rioting, then by all means let us have that discussion. When should police begin to use violence to stop destruction of property? That's a tricky question that deserves an honest debate. Can you use lethal force to defend your home from arson or brick throwing? Can you use lethal force to defend your convenience store from riots?

As always the truth does not lend itself to slogans, banal emotionalism, and stupidity.

A thousand murders a year in Chicago, tent camps out to the horizon in LA and SF, and yet the problem is that our cities are becoming militarized. Not convinced.

And I am not convinced there were a thousand murders in Chicago. Mainly because in 2017, there were 650. And the murder rate this year is currently lower than the rate in 2017.

Nitpick at the numbers, sure, but that doesn't refute my point that the killing fields in Chicago (or Baltimore or Cleveland, etc.) hardly display too much militarization.

I‘m always puzzled by Americans: they can be nicest persons on earth but as soon you put a badge on them, even if it’s just one from mall-security, they‘ll behave like aggressive socio-paths.

I can’t understand how these contrasting types of personalities can even coexist.

Ever heard of the Stanford Prison Experiment?

Right on. I live in Honduras, were cops are often real, hardened criminals, but I feel much tensier when I am at the airport immigration in the US, rather than when I have to deal with them. Yessir here, yesmam there, but I have this feeling I make a mistake and I disappear in Guantanamo for the rest of my life.

Empathy is often a key to understanding. Try imagining the world that police work in and the people that they so often deal with.

The world of police work is a reason to accept a 2-year sentence instead of a life sentence, or being relegated to a desk job and kept from sensitive interactions with the public.

However, the facts of police work suggest to take more concern, not less concern, about how people may act in certain ways which are problems, when they hold a badge. For example, specific training to reduce the probability and/or severity of 1st instances of such errors.

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