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Old Problems Conventional Proliferation and Military Effectiveness in Developing States I T h e relative amity that characterizes relations among industrialized states suggests that the prospects for conflict among them are becoming increasingly remote. While perhaps a valid claim in describing the nature of relationships among Western democracies and other states in the core, it is not an accurate account of interstate relations in the developing world.’ No longer tethered to their superpower patrons, developing states are now free to seek redress from regional rivals over long-simmering disputes once frozen by the ideological battle between East and West. For this reason, competition-both for security and for regional hegemony-has again become a salient issue, reifying the realist paradigm in regional security systems.’ Hastening the resuscitation of realism within regional security systems, and increasing the potential for instability in developing regions, is the ease with which state-of-the-artconventional weapons may now be acq~ired.~ With market forces having been unleashed on the internaChristopher S. Parker is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Political Science at the University of Chicago. ~~ ~~ ~ For their comments, patience, and encouragement I thank Dean Calloway, Michael Creswell, Charles Glaser, Henk Goemans, Andrew Grant-Thomas, Paul Kappur, Christopher Layne, Kier Leiber, Sean Lopez, John Mearsheimer, George Moreno, Sharon Morris, Bradley Thayer, Ivan Toft, and Monica Toft. 1. For states in the core, economic interdependence, political democracy, and nuclear weapons combine to lessen the security dilemma and promote peace. States in the periphery, on the other hand, do not have a similar mix of incentives and deterrents that militate against the likelihood of conflict. For an exceptional exposition on the post-Cold War security environment between developed and developing states, see James M. Goldgeier and Michael McFaul, “A Tale of Two Worlds: Core and Periphery in the Post-Cold War Era,“ International Organization, Vol. 46, No. 2 (Spring 1992),pp. 467-491.For the purposes of this article, I borrow the following taxonomy from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI):the industrial world, the developing world, and least developed countries. The roster of states in the developing world includes such key regional players as Israel, Egypt, Iran,Iraq, and Saudi Arabia in the Middle East; and China, the Koreas, and Taiwan in Asia. SlPRI Yearbook 1997: World’s Armaments, Disarmament, and lnternational Security (New York Oxford University Press, 1997), p. 294. 2. On the prevalence of regional security systems, see Goldgeier and McFaul, “A Tale of Two Worlds”; and Aaron L. Friedberg, ”Ripe for Rivalry: Prospects for Peace in a Multipolar Asia,” lnternational Security, Vol. 18, No. 3 (Winter 1993/94), pp. 5-33. 3. For an overview of the causes of war and the use of modem weapons in the developing world, see Eliot A. Cohen, ”Distant Battles: Modem War in the Thiid World,” International Security, Vol. International Security, Vol. 23, No. 4 (Spring 1999),pp. 119-147 0 1999 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology 119 International Security 23:4 1 120 tional arms industry, more states are now able to balance internally by purchasing the means for unilateral defense instead of the more conventional external balancing where state defense is accomplished through alliance formation . Likewise, the quest for regional hegemony is facilitated with the increasing availability of frontline hardware and technology. Together, the proliferation of conventional arms transfers and the increased political autonomy of developing states in the wake of the Cold War could make this one of the most turbulent transitional periods in the history of international politics! Concerns that policymakers are likely to have with, say, China or Iraq5 possessing modern conventional weapons are based on the assumption that these states will eventually optimize their use tactically, possibly affecting US. strategic interests. But, as I argue in this article, this assumption is open to serious question. The timely, efficient, and effective use of nonindigenous weapons presupposes a level of familiaritynot easily achieved even by indige10 , No. 4 (Spring 1986),pp. 145171. Geoffrey Kemp discusses similar issues in greater detail in ”Arms Transfers: The ’Back-End’ Problem in Developing Countries,” in Stephanie Neuman and Robert Harkavy, eds., Arms Transfers in the...


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