• William J. Durch


For nearly a half-century, the Cold War’s major contestants and their principal allies poured conventional arms into the developing countries of Africa, Asia, and Latin America in a competition to reinforce friends, outflank enemies, and make a few francs, pounds, rubles, or dollars while doing so. These are the regions in which the great, growing, and largely unhappy majority of humanity lives, regions in which grievance is rife and governance often unstable, and in which most of the regional wars of the last half-century have been fought. Conventional arms—fighting vehicles, warships, combat aircraft, and missiles—are the tools of regional conflict. The international trade in conventional arms has declined from its Cold War peak but remains a $30 billion business, most of it conducted with developing states.


Regional Conflict Combat Aircraft Regional Peace Open International Market Missile Technology Control Regime 
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  1. 1.
    See, for example, Michael Brzoska and Frederic S. Pearson, Arms and Warfare, Escalation, De-escalation, and Negotiation (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1994), who analyze the role of arms transfers in ten recent wars.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Following World War I, U.S. advocates of temperance succeeded in passing and ratifying the Eighteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which banned the production and consumption of all but the weakest of alcoholic beverages. Demand for alcohol found ways around the law, however, and criminal organizations thrived on servicing that demand. Prohibition was repealed by the Twenty-first Amendment to the Constitution in 1933. See Thomas M. Coffey, The Long Thirst: Prohibition in America, 1920–1933 (New York: W.W. Norton, 1975).Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Barry Buzan, People, States, and Fear, 2nd ed. (Boulder, Colo.: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 1991), ch. 5.Google Scholar
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    Kalevi J. Holsti, The State, War, and the State of War (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), ch. 8.Google Scholar
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    Barry M. Blechman, William J. Durch, David F. Gordon, and Catherine Gwin, The Partnership Imperative: Maintaining American Leadership in a New Era (Washington, D.C.: The Henry L. Stimson Center and the Overseas Development Council, 1997), pp. 5–13.Google Scholar

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© The Century Foundation, Inc. 2000

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  • William J. Durch

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