Arms Transfers and Regional Security

  • William J. Durch


Only for the largest powers—and maybe only for the United States—is national security globally determined. For nine-tenths of humanity it is largely locally determined and focused. The rhythms of the larger international system did strongly influence the security of some developing states during the Cold War, as the opposing sides scrambled to block one another and back developing country clients. The United States paid a heavy price trying to keep South Vietnam out of the communist fold. The Soviet Union paid a similar price in Afghanistan to keep it in. Neither was successful. The United States used guns as well as money to sustain larcenous rulers like the late Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo) because they kept the lid on their countries and kept Soviet influence to a minimum. Mobutu and other autocratic rulers sitting atop unstable states welcomed such largesse and parlayed threats from one side and its clients into arms from the other side. The whipsaw was often effective for the ruling regime but did little to improve basic governance or the lot of the average citizen.


Internal Conflict Regional Security Force Ratio Military Spending North Atlantic Treaty Organization 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© The Century Foundation, Inc. 2000

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  • William J. Durch

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