The Power of Independent Thinking

In Search of Monsters to Destroy
The Folly of American Empire and the Paths to Peace
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In Search of Monsters to Destroy
The Folly of American Empire and the Paths to Peace
List Price: $24.95
Price: $21.21
Discount: $3.74 (Save 15%)
Free Shipping On Orders Over $60! (Within U.S.A.)
Or, Become a Member and Get FREE!
Hardcover • 242 pages • 2 figures • 6 x 9 inches • Index
ISBN-13: 978-1-59813-347-9
Publication Date: Dec. 8, 2022
Publisher: Independent Institute
Educators: Request exam copy
Bulk discounts available: Learn more
Hardcover (ISBN 978-1-59813-347-9)
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Imperialism and militarism build empires, not liberalism. So says Christopher Coyne, Senior Fellow at the Independent Institute and professor of economics at George Mason University, in this eye-opening, must-read book on America’s recent foreign policy failures.

The attempt by the United States since 9/11 to establish liberal political regimes in the Middle East and in the mountains of Afghanistan was doomed to fail. And the logic is simple: illiberal means can lead only to illiberal ends.

What else are the hundreds of thousands of dead and mutilated civilians the US military left behind, from 2003 to 2021, in these regions? The destroyed ancient cultures and nearly obliterated nation-states? Coyne also points out that the illiberal perpetrators also can end up, not only nearly bankrupt and humiliated, but also profoundly less secure. If we do not absorb these hard truths, says Coyne, the rest of the twenty-first century will be a repeat of its bloodstained, unstable beginning.

But Coyne is no isolationist. A vocal champion of global engagement, Coyne insists there are workable, proven alternatives to imperialism, militarism, and empire—ones, deeply rooted in human experience, that preserve freedom, promote security, and foster mutually enriching friendship among the nations of the earth. Read In Search of Monsters to Destroy, and you’ll never look at the nation state or international relations the same again.


Table of Contents

Prologue: American Global Interventionism Buried in the Graveyard of Empires

  1. The American Empire
  2. lliberal Foundations of a Liberal Empire
  3. Liberal Empire as State Capitalism Writ Large
  4. The Limits of Liberal Imperialism
  5. Illustrating Public Bads: The War on Drugs in Afghanistan
  6. Illustrating Public Bads: Drones as Mechanized Terror
  7. Rethinking Empire

Epilogue: The Siren Song of Empire
Selected Bibliography
About the Author

Detailed Summary

Summary PDF
4 pages, 190 KB

  • The interventionism of American empire claims a commitment to liberal values, but its attempts to export those values around the world are inherently illiberal. While the stated aims of US foreign interventions are draped in noble rhetoric—end suffering, spread freedom and democracy, fix broken societies, nation-build, retaliate against perceived threats and enemies, etc.—the tactics of coercion and brutality used to bring about these aims reveals a repugnant hypocrisy that should alarm Americans across the political spectrum. Christopher Coyne, economic professor at George Mason University and esteemed foreign policy scholar, traces the history of this hypocrisy and unveils its deadly consequences both at home and abroad. In In Search of Monsters to Destroy: The Folly of American Empire and the Paths to Peace, Coyne charts a more peaceful, more moral, and more efficient course toward lasting security and peace.
  • Imperialist practices abroad lead to imperialist practices back home. Coyne considers the revelations of the US surveillance state in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, as well as the subsequent “war on terror.” He explains how the erosion of liberties at home is a feature—not a failure—of imperialist regimes throughout history. Once the state understands itself as a nation-building, morality-spreading, empire-creating machine, its attitude toward civilians abroad and at home becomes paternalistic, severe, and tyrannical. Using emergency powers of war to erode constitutional constraints on militaristic power; centralizing state authority without regard for democratic processes; eagerly developing coercion-enabling skills and technologies; these actions erode the liberties of citizens both at home and abroad while state power, corruption, and cronyism flourishes unchecked. Coyne cites how both Republicans and Democrats benefit from lucrative contracts and salaries that maintain, operate, and expand America’s empire...all at the expense of the taxpayer’s blood, treasure, and civil liberty. This raises the question: who really benefits from empire?
  • Imperialism is bound to fail. Why? Coyne answers: First, the imperialist’s personality often falls prey to a hubristic, “I-know-better” mentality which blinds them to real knowledge about regimes they seek to overturn and transform. These gaps in knowledge have disastrous consequences. Second, the lavish funding for imperial projects incentivizes bureaucracies, committees, special interest groups, and Pentagon officials to compete viciously over funding and relevance. This cutthroat arrangement, combined with the natural human vice of greed, means that state actors spend more time squabbling over funding, bragging about (likely inflated) achievements, and dreaming up expensive projects rather than working together to solve problems.
  • Real-life examples of the failures of liberal empire abound...both abroad and at home. Coyne pulls back the curtain on the disastrous “war on drugs” in Afghanistan, which ironically led to record opium harvests, the cartelization of opium sales under Taliban control, the decimation of hundreds of thousands of jobs, and mass corruption. But he also reveals how imperialist practices abroad corrupt domestic life. For example, using drones as mechanized terror weapons that maim and kill thousands of innocents in places like Pakistan, Yemen, and Afghanistan—all in the name of “defending human rights”—has gravely diminished Americans’ belief in the moral authority of their leaders. This hypocrisy of using terror to fight terror has presented both a moral and political charge too great for advocates of liberal imperialism to defend coherently.
  • We need a new path forward. America’s attempts to usher a utopian liberal empire into existence have failed so consistently and so disastrously that all militaristic imperialistic practices should be severely attenuated, if not wholly nixed. But what of alternatives? What kind of foreign policy should thoughtful, peace-loving Americans support? Coyne calls not for isolationism but for American global engagement. This would be achieved, not through militaristic imperialism, but by a commitment to people, goods, and services across borders. Peace, not war, should be the guiding principle. He insists that self-governing civilians of all countries can and must be the ones to overturn the culture of militaristic imperialism and end the long and tragic history of failed liberal empires. With actionable steps, reasoned arguments, and a nonviolent vision of what a stable peace might look like for America and the world at large, Coyne offers a compelling vision of peace and hope for readers across the political spectrum.


The great failures of the US Government in Afghanistan present a unique opportunity. The curtain has been pulled back on American empire, offering us yet another chance to assess critically the features and realities of empire—and to chart a new course. Economist Christopher Coyne, Senior Fellow at the Independent Institute and esteemed foreign policy scholar, explores the history, nature, and limits of military imperialism abroad, as well as the harmful effects of militarism at home. He also charts a much-needed path forward that prioritizes peace, global engagement, and human flourishing throughout the world.

History shows that empires not only fail to remake regimes in their image, but also erode the civil liberties and moral character of civilians back home. So why did we in America think that crafting a foreign policy of militarism and imperialism would be a success? Coyne offers a rigorous, historical presentation of how we arrived at this disastrous moment, and he describes—with brutal honesty—the powerful incentives, corruption, and cronyism within the D.C. elite that allow these policies to continue.

In In Search of Monsters to Destroy: The Folly of American Empire and the Paths to Peace, Coyne makes a compelling case for abandoning the failed practice of militaristic empire. The evidence for his argument is overwhelming. He cites America’s founding fathers, the studies of internationally-renowned economists like Friedrich Hayek, and catastrophic real-life examples that conservatives, liberals, and libertarians can agree have been both humiliating for America and ruinous for the world. Most significantly, Coyne offers a vision of peace and hope to readers across the political spectrum, advocating for practicable, non-isolationist, and most importantly, peaceful alternatives to empire.

John Quincy Adams’ Prophecy

Advocates of liberal imperialism laud the US government’s use of global power to promote Western liberal values. They say America’s empire provides collective, global goods such as a stable world monetary order, protection against “rogue states,” and more stable, liberal democracies around the world.

Is this true? If so, how true? And what price must be paid for the upkeep of America’s liberal hegemony?

On July 4, 1821, John Quincy Adams addressed Congress on US foreign policy. He warned Americans of the price they would pay for such an empire. By involving herself in wars across the globe—even wars that “assume the colors and usurp the standard of freedom”—America’s priority would change from liberty to force; her “ineffable splendor of freedom and independence” would be replaced by an “imperial diadem.” Worse still, in becoming the “dictatress of the world,” America would “no longer be the ruler of her own spirit.” In other words, by forcing “freedom” on others abroad, Adams predicted that Americans would inevitably lose their freedom at home.

Adams’ warning was quickly forgotten. By the time President Theodore Roosevelt added his Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine—which announced that the US government would serve as the Western Hemisphere’s police force—the military primacy of America had already begun. World War II further established the US as the entire world’s policeman. A rapid centralization of the state’s defense and security operations was set in stone.

Adams’ prophecy has proven correct. Today, America’s national security state consistently acts outside of constitutional rules intended to limit abuses of power. It not only botches and corrupts the morals and customs of the foreign nations it claims to serve; it also erodes the civil liberties of American citizens at home. To make matters worse, most Americans have grown accustomed to a culture of militarism. Our permanent war complex ranks military institutions above civilian life, and our perpetual war economy shamelessly tangles political and private interests.

Just How “Liberal” Is Liberal Empire?

Liberal empire is not only illiberal in practice, but also threatens the very foundations of liberalism both at home and abroad. In the name of “freedom,” the US government has conducted countless foreign interventions with the use of massive military force, “boots on the ground” troop presence, mass surveillance, curfews, segregation, bribery, censorship, suppression, imprisonment, and torture. What kind of “freedom” can be achieved with these means? Because all imperialist regimes can and must employ illiberal means to achieve their goals, the idea of a “liberal empire” is an outright contradiction in terms.

Furthermore, the kinds of people who employ illiberal means with efficiency and without scruple are not people who are “pro-freedom.” Economist Frank Knight argued that “the probability of the people in power being individuals who would dislike the possession and exercise of power is on a level with the probability that an extreme tender-hearted person would get the job of whipping-master on a slave plantation.” Thus, an efficient system of incentives and behaviors ensures the success of power-hungry personalities in American foreign policy.

Cronyism and Corruption in the US Military Sector

In 1943, at the height of World War II, the Senate found $15 billion in waste, fraud, and mismanaged contracts involving government and private contractors. Almost seventy years later in 2011, a bipartisan Commission found that at least $31 billion and possibly as much as $60 billion was lost to contract waste and fraud in America’s Iraq and Afghanistan operations. How is it possible that so much American blood and treasure has been wasted in these wars? And why has nothing been done?
Coyne answers: persistent and systematic cronyism. Cronyism is characterized by profits earned by private companies, not through ordinary economic means, but through political influence.

America’s two World Wars have permanently embedded private sector participation in service of the ongoing war economy. Private citizens have much to gain from this. Today, the US Department of Defense is the country’s largest employer, with 1.4 million men and women on active duty, 850,000 civilian employees, 836,000 Select Reserves, and 245,000 Individual Ready Reserve Forces. And this doesn’t include those who work to supply the military with goods and services—a number some estimate to total over 1.5 million!

Since so many Americans have so much at stake—financially, personally, and professionally—in the permanent war economy, there is very little incentive to scale back its power and scope.

Does Liberal Imperialism Work?

After exploring the history, moral contradictions, and cronyism embedded in America’s liberal empire, Coyne raises the most fundamental question of all: Does liberal empire work? Do policymakers possess the knowledge and incentives to spread liberal values abroad?

His answer: no. And he explains why. First, the illiberal interventionist who rises to the top of America’s liberal hegemon is bound to have a hubristic personality. This lack of humility blocks the way to knowledge and learning. It is highly unlikely that such a hubristic person will take the time needed to learn what they to learn how to achieve lofty imperialist goals. But the truth is, there is no “one size fits all” plan to export liberal democracy to foreign countries. What works in the United States will not work in the Middle East; what worked in Japan and West Germany will not work in Libya or Syria. Without knowledge of local customs, traditions, and practices, let alone the humility to seek out that knowledge in the first place, interventionist plans are bound to fail.

Second, there are significant political impediments to liberal empire. Political infighting about how and when to export liberal values at home leads to chaos abroad. With no clear commitment to any one course of action, citizens of foreign countries rightly distrust interveners. This leads to mass civil unrest and resistance. Furthermore, the line between political and nonpolitical goals—e.g., democratization and economic growth—is often blurred, leading to unintended and often disastrous consequences.

Third, there is the predictable matter of inefficient bureaucratic funding and the usual self-interestedness of glory-seeking politicians. These factors also set up huge barriers a successful imperialist project.

Examples of Failure: Afghanistan’s War on Drugs and Drone Strikes

In recent times, two startling failures of US foreign policy stand out. The first is America’s war on drugs in Afghanistan, which led to record opium harvests and mass terror connected to drug trafficking. The second is the use of drones as mechanized terror in the so-called “war on terror.” After two decades of fighting the war on drugs in Afghanistan, the opium economy is not only stronger than ever before—it also is more concentrated in Taliban hands than any time before or during the invasion. How did this happen?

In short, flip-flopping US policy on drug trafficking led Afghan drug lords to take matters into their own hands. Opium farmers turned to violent, centralized cartels to protect their harvest. Smaller opium producers were wiped out. Those left standing grew in power and scope. Today, the opium economy is the main source of income for many Afghan citizens, and even government officials are in on the drug trade.

The second failure has been the institutionalization of drone strikes in the US military, which stands in stark contradiction to the liberal values supposedly held by the US government. How can one take seriously a promise to fight terror...with terror? Despite the rhetoric, the maiming and killing of innocents in multiple countries has been too great and too obvious to go unnoticed, and has been condemned by citizens both in the US and abroad.

Is There Another Way?

The policies of the American empire elevate violence, result in brutal and unintended disaster, and continue to erode liberty both at home and abroad. But what alternatives to our security state are there?

Workable and non-isolationist alternatives to imperialism, militarism, and empire exist. Coyne details action items and offers a vision of hope for peace-loving citizens throughout the world.

First, a cultural shift from military imperialism to peace must occur. Second, pulling back from America’s deployments around the world should be a top priority. Third, an understanding of “polycentric defense”—i.e., an understanding of security that spreads responsibility and power from the centralized state to individuals and small communities—must be made clear. And most importantly, peaceful interactions between private, nonstate actors living in different geographic spaces should be the new path forward.


“With In Search of Monsters to Destroy, Christopher Coyne offers readers a crisp, concise, and devastating indictment of American imperialism. His provocative proposal for a nonviolent ‘polycentric’ approach to national security comes as a welcome bonus.”
Andrew J. Bacevich, President and Chairman of the Board, Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft; Professor Emeritus of International Relations and History, Boston University

“Why go overseas to slay monsters? Whether it’s corruption and cronyism, bureaucratic pathologies and perverse policies, mechanized terror and murderous militarism, the monsters are right here, America. Luckily for us, in In Search of Monsters to Destroy, Coyne faces them down with courage and clarity. So should we.”
William J. Astore, Lt. Col., USAF (Ret.), author, Hindenburg: Icon of German Militarism

“Christopher Coyne has long been the leading voice in economics on the folly of American military interventions overseas. In his remarkable new book, In Search of Monsters to Destroy, he gives unpopular but deeply compelling arguments why such interventions are a threat to liberal values both at home and abroad.”
—William R. Easterly, Co-Director, Development Research Institute, New York University

“Coyne argues in his tightly written examination of America’s global meddling, In Search of Monsters to Destroy, that these interventions almost inevitably cause more harm than good because America lacks both the interest and knowledge to do otherwise. It is not ‘Mission Accomplished’ but ‘Mission Impossible’.”
Harvey M. Sapolsky, Professor Emeritus of Public Policy and Organization and former Director of the MIT Security Studies Program, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

“Christopher Coyne’s In Search of Monsters to Destroy is a timely book. Completed on the heels of the undeniable failure of America’s longest war in Afghanistan it comes out in the midst of the United States’ and NATO’s dangerous effort to destroy yet another monster, this time the Russian bear in Ukraine. Sadly, we continue to need Coyne’s reminder of the folly of even well-intentioned empire and the urgency for a new, non-imperial approach to national and international security.”
Michael C. Desch, Packey J. Dee Professor of International Relations and Brian and Jeannelle Brady Family Director, Notre Dame International Security Center, University of Notre Dame

In Search of Monsters to Destroy is a bold necessary book that examines the costs and failures of U.S. military interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and beyond. Coyne reveals the false assumptions and political and economic cronyism that for decades have sustained what he calls the ‘imperial national security state.’ The book also offers solutions, outlining alternative, polycentric defense strategies, including civil resistance, that promise greater security at less risk of war. A well-written compact volume that makes a valuable contribution to the debate on national-security strategy and the need for military restraint.”
David Cortright, Director of Policy Studies, Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, Keough School of Global Affairs, University of Notre Dame

“Christopher Coyne’s very important and timely book, In Search of Monsters to Destroy, reminds us once again that all wars bring taxes and the expansion of the power and scope of government. When the wars end, the taxes remain. The new powers remain. The new additional government functionaries remain. State power ratchets upwards and rarely back down. War is truly the health of the state.”
Grover G. Norquist, Founder and President, Americans for Tax Reform

“With his book In Search of Monsters to Destroy, Coyne uses key insights from political economy to deliver a major broadside against interventionist American foreign policies. He argues that we have unproductively adopted an imperial approach that undermines both liberal ends and our security needs. Agree or disagree with his analysis or recommendations, readers will find Coyne’s challenges to traditional approaches well worth pondering.”
William P. Ruger, President, American Institute for Economic Research

In Search of Monsters to Destroy presents a detailed and tellingly accurate anatomy of the American warfare state and its consequences for both the United States and other nations before laying out a thought-provoking case for an alternative to Washington’s current, counterproductive militarism.”
Charles W. Freeman, Jr., President Emeritus, Middle East Policy Council; former U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia; former Assistant U.S. Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs

In Search of Monsters to Destroy is a spirited, and often passionate, analysis and assault on American interventionism, nation-building abroad, and militarism at home and abroad, which are collectively conceptualized as much of the substance of the American empire. The book challenges much in orthodox studies, and owes a debt to important dissident writers Coyne obviously respects: especially Friedrich A. Hayek, Charles A. Beard, William Appleman Williams, C. Wright Mills, Arthur A. Ekirch, Jr., and Robert Higgs. Even readers often preferring interpretive orthodoxy will find Coyne’s chapters on the failed drug war in Afghanistan and on the menacing use of drone warfare both compelling and unsettling.”
Barton J. Bernstein, Professor of History, Emeritus, Stanford University; editor, The Truman Administration: A Documentary History and Twentieth-Century America: Recent Interpretations (both with Allen J. Matusow) and Towards a New Past: Dissenting Essays in American History; author, The Atomic Bomb: The Critical Issues

“Christopher Coyne’s book In Search of Monsters to Destroy: The Folly of American Empire and the Paths to Peaceoffers a clear and comprehensive analysis of the concept of ‘liberal imperialism.’ Coyne’s compelling elucidation of what is essentially a contradiction in terms, completely at odds with the contours of reality, is then illustrated through a detailed consideration of two cases of major foreign policy failures in the twenty-first century: the efforts by U.S. occupiers to stanch opium production in Afghanistan, and the use of lethal drones to kill people throughout the Middle East. These examples show how military intervention in the name of liberal values has sown misery and exacerbated many of the problems which it was supposed to solve. Yet foreign policy elites, undeterred by their long string of orchestrated disasters, persist in insisting that the United States is the ‘indispensable’ nation. Under this assumption of ‘American exceptionalism,’ all of the attendant hypocrisies inherent to liberal imperialism continue to be condoned, even as ‘public bads’ multiply. There is, however, an alternative to the dominant, state-centered security approach: polycentric systems of security grounded in individual and community action, which, being intrinsically coherent, are far more likely to succeed than is the reflexive use of state military force. The challenge remains to spread the word, and Coyne’s timely book greatly contributes to that worthy cause.”
Laurie L. Calhoun, author, We Kill Because We Can: From Soldiering to Assassination in the Drone Age and War and Delusion: A Critical Examination

“In this groundbreaking new book, In Search of Monsters to Destroy, Christopher Coyne presents us with both a crystal-clear history of the modern American Empire and a brilliant, innovative policy manual. Interweaving his deep expertise as an economist with theoretical and policy insights drawn from international relations, classical-liberal thought, business theory, psychology, and many other fields, Coyne [He] has written a scholarly masterpiece which stands much of contemporary American international relations theory and practice on its head—most particularly where he suggests fundamental changes in the way conflict and violence can be managed and lessened, both at home and abroad. This superb and beautifully written book should be read and re-read by anyone concerned with the dangerous world which the American Empire has made more dangerous and anyone interested in fresh policy prescriptions offering workable and peace-generating ‘alternatives to empire’.”
T. Hunt Tooley, A.M. Pate, Jr., Professor of History, Austin College; author, The Great War: Western Front and Home Front

“The U.S. government spent almost $9 Billion over 20 years in Afghanistan to eliminate the poppy crop used to produce opium and heroin. The result? Opium poppy production quadrupled. This failed war on drugs is just one subset of the failed war on terror that Christopher Coyne documents in his book, In Search of Monsters to Destroy, his masterful analysis of the follies of the American Empire. What we imagine to be a necessary, efficient mechanism for protecting American freedoms and spreading liberty is, as Coyne artfully details, a massive, corrupt enterprise that suctions money from American taxpayers into the accounts of a few monopolistic corporations and, in the process, extinguishes the liberties and, too often, the lives of millions beyond our borders. It is essential reading for all who hope to be informed Americans—a vital roadmap for charting a more effective, more just foreign policy.”
Joseph Cirincione, Distinguished Non-Resident Fellow, Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft; former President, Ploughshares Fund; former Director for Non-Proliferation, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

“Christopher Coyne’s In Search of Monsters to Destroy calls to us to imagine alternatives to empire. It is timely, sobering, and provocative. A century and more ago, anti-imperialists warned our republic against the corruption, militarism, jobbery, and vanity of a misconstrued national greatness premised on imperial expansion. Coyne challenges all skeptics of empire and lovers of liberty to reassess where we are, how we got here, and where we go next. Ideological interventionist, nation-builders and regime changers have to be held accountable for the word they promised and the world they made.”
Richard M. Gamble, Professor of History and Anna Margaret Ross Alexander Chair in History and Politics, Hillsdale College

“Christopher Coyne’s In Search of Monsters to Destroy is a devastating critique of Washington’s arrogant and blundering foreign policy. Too often, U.S. policymakers succumb to the temptation to launch military crusades for regime-change or supposedly humanitarian goals. The debacle in Afghanistan is the most recent example of how populations in targeted countries pay a very high price in blood and treasure for the hubris of America’s policy elites.”
Ted Galen Carpenter, Senior Fellow, Defense and Foreign Policy Studies, Cato Institute

“Step by careful step in his book In Search of Monsters to Destroy, Christopher Coyne makes a powerful humanitarian and economic case against U.S. empire. He shows that it has caused huge destruction of life, liberty, and property abroad and substantial destruction of life, liberty, and wealth at home. Coyne applies Friedrich Hayek’s analysis of the problems with centralized information to foreign policy, showing that, whatever the U.S. government’s intent, government officials cannot know enough to intervene productively in other countries’ affairs. Moreover, government officials usually have perverse incentives that cause them to act badly. Is there hope? Read his last chapter.”
David R. Henderson, Emeritus Professor of Economics, Graduate School of Business and Public Policy, Naval Postgraduate School Research; Fellow, Hoover Institution

“As Christopher Coyne convincingly demonstrates, militarism and imperialism impose harsh costs on human populations, including those in the imperial heartland as well as the direct victims of intervention. At a time when the United States and its rivals are gearing up for a new era of military competition and conflict, Coyne’s superb In Search of Monsters to Destroy provides a powerful antidote to our culture of endless-war preparation.”
Michael T. Klare, Professor Emeritus of Peace and World Security Studies, Hampshire College

“‘Imperialism’ is an ugly word to most Americans, connoting the malevolent practices of European powers. Alas, as In Search of Monsters to Destroy tells us, the practice is very close to home. In a revealing and easy-to-read style, author Christopher Coyne describes the dark side of U.S. foreign policy, particularly since the 9/11 attacks. His discussions on Afghanistan and Iraq are extremely well done. For anyone with an interest in U.S. foreign policy, its implementation, and the near mind-boggling results, this book is a must read.”
Donald L. Losman, Professorial Lecturer (Ret.), Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University; former Professor of Economics, The Eisenhower School, National Defense University

“Using telling examples such as the ‘mechanized terror’ of drone warfare and with hard-hitting prose, Christopher Coyne’s book, In Search of Monsters to Destroy, offers a scathing critique of the way that America’s efforts to spread liberalism and democracy undermine the values it claims to promote.”
George C. Herring, Professor Emeritus of History, University of Kentucky; author, From Colony to Superpower: U.S. Foreign Relations since 1776

In Search of Monsters to Destroy is an apt and engaging dissection of the follies and of the often decidedly illiberal consequences of American military interventions abroad. It concludes with a provocative assessment of the potential value of other approaches to the provision of defense and security including non-violent ones.”
John E. Mueller, Woody Hayes Senior Research Scientist, Mershon Center for International Security Studies, Ohio State University; author, The Stupidity of War: American Foreign Policy and the Case for Complacency

“In the aftermath America’s failed and costly effort to pursue ‘regime change’ and ‘nation building’ in Iraq, Afghanistan and the rest of the Greater Middle East by employing U.S. military power, we are now facing growing pressure in Washington to launch new Cold Wars against Russia and China as a way of continuing to maintain U.S. global hegemonic power. To apply what Talleyrand was supposed to have said of the Bourbons, it seems that the members of the U.S. foreign policy establishment ‘have learned nothing, and they have forgotten nothing.’ Against this backdrop, Christopher Coyne provides us in In Search of Monsters to Destroy: The Folly of American Empire and the Paths for Peace, with a wide-ranging critique of U.S. military interventions in the Middle East and elsewhere, an historical tour d’horizon and an intellectual exercise that reflects the author’s classical-liberal worldview. Not only does Coyne explain how we got here, how contrary to the aspirations of the Founding Fathers, the U.S. has become a military empire and the devastating effects this has had on our political economy and civil liberties. He also offers us a path forward, proposing a set of alternative policies that would allow America to affect the world along the lines of its liberal values, so it could become the shining city on the hill instead of ending up in the graveyard of empires.”
Leon T. Hadar, Washington Bureau Chief, Singapore Business Times; author, Quagmire: America in the Middle East and Sandstorm: Policy Failure in the Middle East

“Christopher Coyne has provided us with a timely—indeed urgent—examination of why America failed in Afghanistan. But more even than that, he has given us historical perspective on how the American empire developed after two world wars. I was stunned by the chapters on the drug war in Afghanistan, and the ultimate horror of drone warfare as the final expression of technological efforts to make the world safe for democracy.”
Lloyd C. Gardner, Charles and Mary Beard Professor Emeritus of History, Rutgers University



2024 American Legacy Book Awards (American Book Fest)

  • Finalist in Best Cover Design: Nonfiction
  • Finalist in History: United States

2023 International Book Awards (American Book Fest)

  • Finalist in Best Cover Design: Nonfiction
  • Finalist in History: Military
  • Finalist in History: United States

2023 Eric Hoffer Book Award

  • Finalist


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“The Folly of American Empire and the Paths to Peace” Panel discussion on In Search of Monsters to Destroy by Senior Fellow Christopher Coyne on the The Hayek Program Podcast Wed., Jan. 24, 2024
Sr. Fellow Christopher Coyne, author of In Search of Monsters to Destroy interviewed on Parallax Views podcast Mon., Apr. 3, 2023
In Search of Monsters to Destroy by Sr. Fellow Christopher Coyne is reviewed in the Journal of Peace Research Fri., Mar. 24, 2023
“Monsters, Empires, and Illusions of Peace: Navigating the Perils of American Interventionism” Sr. Fellow Christopher Coyne, author of In Search of Monsters to Destroy interviewed on The Voices Of War podcast Mon., Mar. 20, 2023
“Condemning Foreign Interventions” In Search of Monsters to Destroy by Sr. Fellow Christopher Coyne is reviewed in The New American Mon., Mar. 6, 2023
“Limitations of Central Planning” Sr. Fellow Christopher Coyne, author of In Search of Monsters to Destroy interviewed on Institute for Humane Studies Thu., Mar. 2, 2023
“Washington’s Endless Wars” In Search of Monsters to Destroy by Sr. Fellow Christopher Coyne is reviewed on The Herland Report Sun., Feb. 12, 2023
“Could Polycentric Defense Protect Us from Monsters?” In Search of Monsters to Destroy by Sr. Fellow Christopher J. Coyne reviewed on Freedom and Flourishing Wed., Feb. 8, 2023
“Peak Cronyism and the Military Industrial Complex” Sr. Fellow Christopher J. Coyne, author of In Search of Monsters to Destroy interviewed on Kibbe on Liberty’s Free the People Wed., Feb. 8, 2023
“Perpetual American Empire” Sr. Fellow Christopher Coyne, author of In Search of Monsters to Destroy interviewed on The Book Club with Jeffrey Sachs Tue., Feb. 7, 2023
“Can the American Leviathan Be Tamed?” In Search of Monsters to Destroy by Sr. Fellow Christopher J. Coyne is reviewed on Mon., Feb. 6, 2023
“Government Failures at Home and Abroad” Sr. Fellow Christopher J. Coyne, author of In Search of Monsters to Destroy interviewed on The Shaun Thompson Show on WIND radio. Tue., Jan. 24, 2023
“When Searching for Monsters to Destroy, What Do We Fail to Discover?” In Search of Monsters to Destroy by Sr. Fellow Christopher J. Coyne, reviewed in The Library of Economics and Liberty ( Tue., Jan. 3, 2023
Sr. Fellow Christopher J. Coyne, author of In Search of Monsters to Destroy interviewed on the Cato Daily Podcast Wed., Dec. 21, 2022
“Defense and Peace Economics” Sr. Fellow Christopher Coyne, author of In Search of Monsters to Destroy interviewed by Research Fellow Peter Boettke on the Hayek Program Podcast Wed., Dec. 14, 2022
“The Military Can’t Win the War on Drugs, and Other Lessons from U.S. Foreign Policy” Sr. Fellow Christopher Coyne, author of In Search of Monsters to Destroy interviewed on the Tom Woods Show Tue., Dec. 13, 2022
“Mythology that Democrats and Republicans Still Believe!” Sr. Fellow Christopher Coyne, author of In Search of Monsters to Destroy interviewed on Don’t Tread on Anyone by the Libertarian Institute Sat., Dec. 10, 2022
“The Military State and Why It Persists” Sr. Fellow Christopher J. Coyne, author of In Search of Monsters to Destroy interviewed on the Tom Woods Show Thu., Dec. 8, 2022
“Killer Robots: Another Example of War Coming Home to You” Research Fellow Abigail R Hall and Research Fellow Christopher J. Coyne, author of In Search of Monsters to Destroy Op-Ed in Responsible Statecraft Tue., Dec. 6, 2022
“An Economist Examines US Foreign Policy and Finds It Wanting” In Search of Monsters to Destroy: The Folly of American Empire and the Paths to Peace by Sr. Fellow Christopher Coyne, reviewed by Mises Institute Mon., Dec. 5, 2022
“Understanding Foreign and Domestic Socialist Propaganda” Sr. Fellow Christopher Coyne, author of In Search of Monsters to Destroy interviewed on Don’t Tread on Anyone podcast by the Libertarian Institute Mon., Dec. 5, 2022
“It takes Illiberal people to run a US-led Liberal World Order” Sr. Fellow Christopher Coyne, author of In Search of Monsters to Destroy interviewed on Crashing the War Party podcast by the Quincy Institute Thu., Dec. 1, 2022
In Search of Monsters to Destroy by Sr. Fellow Christopher Coyne is mentioned on Marginal Revolution Sun., Oct. 9, 2022
“Opposing War Together With Libertarians” In Search of Monsters to Destroy by Sr. Fellow Christopher Coyne, is reviewed by David Swanson, Executive Director of World Beyond War Fri., Oct. 7, 2022
“Reagan Was Right: Big Government Corrupts the Military Too” Sr. Fellow Christopher Coyne, author of In Search of Monsters to Destroy: The Folly of American Empire and the Paths to Peace Op-Ed in The National Interest Fri., Sep. 9, 2022
“Nancy Pelosi’s Signal to China” Sr. Fellow Christopher Coyne, author of In Search of Monsters to Destroy interviewed on The Freedom Adventure podcast Wed., Sep. 7, 2022
“Pelosi’s Taiwan Trip Heightens the US-China Perceptual Dilemma” Sr. Fellow Christopher Coyne, author of In Search of Monsters to Destroy: The Folly of American Empire and the Paths to Peace Op-Ed in The Hill Wed., Aug. 10, 2022

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