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.

University of Iowa Graduate College

This is a link to my disseration with the University of Iowa. My work was very preliminary, but is foundational to the way I think about arms now and my current projects with Richard Johnson and my individual book manuscript project.