July, 2008

Foreign Intervention and Global Public Bads

  • Christopher Coyne

    Associate Director, F. A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics
  • Matt E. Ryan

Key materials
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A growing literature focuses on the “global public goods” generated by foreign interventions.  Global public goods have traditional public good characteristics, but their benefits extend across societies and regions.  We analyze how well-intentioned foreign interventions to provide global public goods can also result in global public bads.  These bads emerge through the dynamics of unintended consequences resulting from knowledge constraints on policymakers designing interventions.  Case studies of foreign interventions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Afghanistan, and Pakistan are provided as evidence.  The main conclusion is one of humility regarding foreign interventions to provide global public goods.