Cover of Tyranny Comes Home by Christopher J. Coyne and Abigail R. Hall
Tyranny Comes Home
The Domestic Fate of U.S. Militarism
Christopher J. Coyne and Abigail R. Hall

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April 2018
264 pages.
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Cloth ISBN: 9780804798471
Paper ISBN: 9781503605275

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Many Americans believe that foreign military intervention is central to protecting our domestic freedoms. But Christopher J. Coyne and Abigail R. Hall urge engaged citizens to think again. Overseas, our government takes actions in the name of defense that would not be permissible within national borders. Emboldened by the relative weakness of governance abroad, the U.S. government is able to experiment with a broader range of social controls. Under certain conditions, these policies, tactics, and technologies are then re-imported to America, changing the national landscape and increasing the extent to which we live in a police state.

Christopher J. Coyne and Abigail R. Hall examine this pattern—which they dub "the boomerang effect"—considering a variety of rich cases that include the rise of state surveillance, the militarization of domestic law enforcement, the expanding use of drones, and torture in U.S. prisons. Synthesizing research and applying an economic lens, they develop a generalizable theory to predict and explain a startling trend. Tyranny Comes Home unveils a new aspect of the symbiotic relationship between foreign interventions and domestic politics. It gives us alarming insight into incidents like the shooting in Ferguson, Missouri and the Snowden case—which tell a common story about contemporary foreign policy and its impact on our civil liberties.

About the authors

Christopher J. Coyne is Associate Professor of Economics at George Mason University and Associate Director of the F. A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics at the Mercatus Center. He is the author of Doing Bad by Doing Good: Why Humanitarian Action Fails and After War: The Political Economy of Exporting Democracy.

Abigail R. Hall is Assistant Professor of Economics at the University of Tampa.

"Clearly and boldly argued, this is an excellent contribution to our understanding of the economics of interventionism."

—Joshua Hall, West Virginia University, coauthor, Economic Freedom of the World Report

"Many people believe that U.S. 'peacekeeping' efforts abroad help to protect American civil liberties at home. Coyne and Hall show just how mistaken that view is. I know of no other work that makes such a clear connection between foreign intervention and the erosion of domestic civil liberties."

—Randall Holcombe, Florida State University

"Coyne and Hall brilliantly reveal that a fatal coarsening comes with the rise of an empire. One can only respond with the cant phrase, heard often in these latter days, which would be better applied to peaceful, intellectual exchanges than to the corrupting enterprise of foreign intervention: 'Thank you for your service.'"

—Deirdre Nansen McCloskey,Florida State University

"An old German saying claims that losing a war is bad, but winning a war is worse. Coyne and Hall document one way in which that is the case: the architecture of social control created by militarism is easily adapted to domestic life. Tyranny Comes Home illustrates this phenomena in the United States, while offering a path to reclaiming the 'Great Republic.'"

—Michael Munger, Duke University