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Founding Fathers warned against going abroad in search of monsters to destroy. When Washington takes its wars, slogans, and coups abroad, generations of writers have characterized the aggression as seeking monsters to destroy. Washington has benefitted from the cover offered by the slogan, justifying mayhem inflicted on the world as overthrowing dictators and bringing democracy.
In his just published book, In Search of Monsters to Destroy (Independent Institute, 2022), Christopher J. Coyne, Independent Institute Fellow and economics professor at George Mason University, takes these claims at face value. He demonstrates conclusively that Washington’s 21st century attempts to establish liberal political regimes in the Middle East totally failed, the reason being that illiberal means can lead only to illiberal ends.
One of Coyne’s most impressive examples is the total failure of Washington’s drug eradication program in Afghanistan. In 2001 the Taliban had essentially eliminated opium production in Afghanistan. After 16 years of the American eradication program, opium production was off the charts, with Afghanistan accounting for 80% of the world’s illicit opium production.
A case can be made that Washington’s intention was never to eradicate opium production, but to take it over as another source of CIA non-budgeted income with which to bribe and overthrow governments. Nevertheless, Coyne is correct that Washington’s announced goal was eradication, certainly a failed goal.
Coyne also does a good job explaining that Washington’s claim to respect, promote and defend human rights around the world is lost on those populations that Washington’s war machine and sanctions killed and mutilated in the 21st century, killing that has now moved to Ukraine.
Coyne himself is an advocate of global engagement, but without the coercion and violence. I think that global engagement whatever its character precludes a path to peace. The reason is that once Washington is globally involved, the interest groups that govern Washington will ensure that the involvement advances their interests, which are generally exploitative as described by a range of writers from John Perkins to Michael Hudson ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=77jVMsOWKIo ).
All in all Coyne does a good job, as we have become accustomed to the Independent Institute and its associated scholars to do, in demonstrating that Washington has the wrong model of involvement and is doing harm rather than good.
Perhaps we can expect a second book from Coyne that investigates whether Washington’s Goody Two Shoes claims are in fact its real agenda or simply a cover for the criminal exploitation of other peoples. Coyne does acknowledge that Washington has built an empire, but restricts his analysis to Washington’s own representation of its motives. But if Washington’s motive is hegemony, as it most certainly is for the neoconservatives who control US foreign policy, then Washington’s real agenda is not exporting liberty in a mimicking of the French Revolution, but financial, political, and military hegemony used to loot other countries.
If this is indeed the case, then a stronger indictment than Coyne’s is in order.