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Military Technology and Human Loss in Intrastate Conflict: The Conditional Impact of Arms Imports

Mehrl, Marius and Thurner, Paul W (2020) 'Military Technology and Human Loss in Intrastate Conflict: The Conditional Impact of Arms Imports.' Journal of Conflict Resolution, 64 (6). pp. 1172-1196. ISSN 0022-0027

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Though often conjectured, there is a lack of empirical evidence that international transfers of military technology render intrastate conflicts more violent. We address this question and argue that expansions in governments’ ability to fight aggravate the lethality of war. However, we expect this effect to be conditioned by rebels’ military endowments and their choice of tactics. Where rebels are weak, they avoid open combat and additional governmental arms imports have no effect on the number of casualties. In contrast, governmental arms imports cause human losses to multiply when rebels have achieved military parity or superiority and, as a consequence, use conventional combat tactics. This hypothesis is tested on the number of battle-related deaths in intrastate conflict, 1989-2011, using, for the first time, data on governmental imports of both major conventional weapons and small arms. Results support our propositions and are robust to instrumenting for imports of both types of weapons.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: conflict intensity; civil war; military technology; balance of power; arms trade
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences
Faculty of Social Sciences > Government, Department of
SWORD Depositor: Elements
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 21 Nov 2019 09:41
Last Modified: 06 Jan 2022 14:07

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