Wreckonomics: Why it’s time to end the war on everything, written together with David Keen, was published by Oxford University Press in December 2023. This is from the back cover:


The United States’ ignominious exit from Afghanistan in 2021 topped two decades of failure and devastation wrought by the war on terror. A long-running “fight against migration” has stoked chaos and rights abuses while pushing migrants onto more dangerous routes. For its part, the war on drugs has failed to dampen narcotics demand while fueling atrocities from Mexico to the Philippines. Why do such “failing” policies persist for so long? And why do politicians keep feeding the very crises they say they are combating?

In Wreckonomics, Ruben Andersson and David Keen analyze why disastrous policies live on even when it has become apparent that they do not work. The perverse outcomes of the fights against terror, migration, and drugs are more than a blip or an anomaly. Rather, the proliferation of pseudo-wars has become a dangerous political habit and an endless source of political advantage and profit. From combating crime to the war on drugs, from civil wars to global wars and even “covid wars,” chronic failure has been harnessed to the appearance of success. Over a wide variety of spheres, problems have persisted and worsened not so much despite the “wars” and “fights” waged against them as thanks to these floundering endeavors. Covering a range of cases around the world, Wreckonomics exposes and interrogates the incentive systems that allow destructive policies to flourish in the face of systemic failure – while offering strategies for dismantling the addiction to waging war on everything.

Read an edited excerpt in the Guardian Long Read: ‘Why the war on migration keeps failing’

Further details at the OUP website and in an interview with Quad magazine

Related coauthored writing includes:

‘Double games: Success, failure, and the relocation of risk in fighting terror, drugs, and migration’, Political Geography, 2018

The Saferworld report ‘Partners in crime? The impacts of Europe’s outsourced migration controls on peace, stability and rights’, July 2019 – downloadable here

‘The West’s obsession with border security is breeding instability,’ Foreign Policy, November 2019

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