Arms transfers and international relations theory: Situating military aircraft sales in the broader IR context

Quantitative research on arms transfers has not adequately accounted for broader theories of international relations. We review the specialized literature on arms transfers and examine how arms transfers fit with the broad international relations theories. We derive and test seven hypotheses based on realist, liberal and constructivist theories using a dataset of all non-US/Russian aircraft transfers between 1990 and 2010. We find limited support for realist hypotheses. We find little support for hypotheses derived from the Democratic Peace literature, but some support for liberal trade arguments. We also find some support for constructivist arguments based on shared identity and prestige measures.

Building a Parallel World Order

A book review of Stuenkel (2016) Post Western World.

Human Rights and Democratic Arms Transfers: Rhetoric Versus Reality with Different Types of Major Weapon Systems

Since the height of the Cold War, major democratic arms suppliers have claimed that they take into consideration the human rights records of existing and potential purchasing states. After the Cold War, supplier policies suggested an increased focus on matters of human rights. But do their records match their rhetoric and their formal policies? We examine the arms transfer patterns of the four major democratic suppliers between 1976 and 2009. We argue that, if practice matches policy, then democratic suppliers should not transfer weapons to states violating human rights. However, because the global interests of these suppliers shift over time, we expect some transfers of major weapon systems to states that violate human rights, but not of the types most implicated in human rights abuses. Thus, we build on the existing arms transfer literature by disaggregating exports based on weapons type. The ordered logits we run for each major democratic supplier from 1976 to 2009 show that the major democratic suppliers generally do not account for human rights violations in the importing state, with the one exception being the United States transfer of land weapon systems. This research is important not only to arms and human rights research, but to foreign policy scholars in general. The patterns of supply and the continued preference of states to provide major conventional weapons to states with poor human rights records reveal important policy priorities for these democratic states.

Detention as a Peacemaking Strategy: The 2007–08 Iraq Surge and US Detention Policy

The surge in Iraq was one of the key foreign policy decisions of the past decade. Its success prompted a second surge into Afghanistan by a new president a few years later. The success of the Iraq surge has prompted work by academics and policymakers alike. One factor of the success of the surge that has been understudied by both academics and policymakers is the role played by the detention of individuals and the changes in detention policy that accompanied the surge. In this paper, I outline a brief informal model of how an intervening state can use detention to help alleviate some of the causes of intergroup conflict to increase the odds of successful intervention. I then show how the changes in US detention policy during the surge contributed to the success of the overall strategy. A key argument in this paper is that detention contributed to the success of the surge even though it was not a primary or public aspect of the surge strategy.

Neoliberal Reform and Protest in Latin American Democracies: A Replication and Correction

Do neoliberal economic reforms in Latin American democracies mobilize citizens to overcome their collective action problems and protest? A recent addition to the scholarship on this crucial question of the relationship of markets and politics, Bellinger and Arce (2011), concludes that economic liberalization does have this effect, working to repoliticize collective actors and reinvigorate democracy. We reexamine the article’s analyses and demonstrate that they misinterpret the marginal effect of the variables of theoretical interest. Thus, the article’s optimistic claims about the consequences for democracy of economic liberalization in the region are not supported by its own empirical results. It is argued here that its results suggest instead that protests became more common in autocracies when they moved away from markets. Rather than speaking to how people have mobilized to protest against liberal reforms in Latin America’s democracies, the work’s analyses illuminate only when people protested against the region’s dictatorships.

Under the Influence of Arms: The Foreign Policy Causes and Consequences of Arms Transfers

How are arms export choices made within a state? In this dissertation I use a foreign policy analysis framework to examine this question. I focus on examining each of the three primary levels of analysis in international relations as it relates to the main question. I begin with a typical international relations level and examine the characteristics of the two states that dominate the world arms trade: The United States and Russia. I then examine the full network of relations among all states in the international system that are involved in the sale or purchase of arms. To do this I use an Exponential Random Graph Model (ERGM) to examine these relations, which I derived from data on arms sales from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). I examine the arms sales in each decade from 1950 through 2010. In order to answer the question of how arms decisions are made within the state, I focus my inquiry on the United States and Russia. It is these states that have the practical capability to use arms transfers as a foreign policy tool. I examine the foreign policy making mechanisms in each of these states to determine how arms transfers can be used as a foreign policy tool. I examine and the bureaucratic institutions within each state and come up with a state ordering preference for how arms decisions are evaluated in each state. Finally, I use case studies to examine arms relations between the both the U.S. and Russia and three other states in each case. The other states were selected based on the pattern of sales between the two countries. I examine these sales to determine the impact of bureaucratic maneuvering and interest politics on the decision-making process within Russia and the United States. I find in my network analysis that the traditional measures of state power – military spending, regime type, and military alliances – do not account for the overall structure of the arms sale network. The most important factors in the formation of the arms sale network in each of the six decades that I study are specific configurations of triadic relations that suggest a continued hierarchy in the arms sale network. I find in my case study chapters that a simple model of state interest as a decision-making rule accounts for the decisions made by the different bureaucratic actors in the U.S. Russian arms sales are driven by a state imperative to increase Russia’s market share, and there is high-level involvement in making different arms deals with other countries.

Strategic Intelligence During COIN Detention Operations: Relational Data and Understanding Latent Terror Networks

One aspect of the global War on Terror that has received limited coverage in the academic literature is the problem of detained persons as it relates to intelligence. This is a surprising oversight, given the number of detainees that the USA has been responsible for (over 25,000 were in custody in Iraq alone at one time during its peak). The detention environment offers a prime strategic intelligence opportunity for the US intelligence community to study the tactics and organizations of individuals who have been removed from the overall conflict. In this article an easily implemented collection program is recommended to be deployed in US/coalition detention centers. The primary recommendation is to gather relational data on detainee communication, both authorized and illicit, and to use these data to perform network analyses of terrorist groups and their individual members.