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Bases, Bullets, and Ballots: The Effect of U.S. Military Aid on Political Conflict in Colombia

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Author Info

  • Oeindrila Dube
  • Suresh Naidu

Abstract

Does foreign military assistance strengthen or further weaken fragile states facing internal confict? We address this question by estimating how U.S. military aid affects violence and electoral participation in Colombia. We exploit the allocation of U.S. military aid to Colombian military bases, and compare how aid affects municipalities with and without bases. Using detailed political violence data, we find that U.S. military aid leads to differential increases in attacks by paramilitaries (who collude with the military), but has no effect on guerilla attacks. Aid increases also result in more paramilitary (but not guerrilla) homicides during election years. Moreover, when military aid rises, voter turnout falls more in base municipalities, especially those that are politically contested. Our results are robust to an instrument based on worldwide increases in U.S. military aid (excluding Latin America). The findings suggest that foreign military assistance may strengthen armed non-state actors, undermining domestic political institutions.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Center for Global Development in its series Working Papers with number 197.

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Length: 47 pages
Date of creation: Jan 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cgd:wpaper:197

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Related research

Keywords: military aid; conflict; democracy; elections;

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Cited by:
  1. Della Vigna, Stefano & Enikolopov, Ruben & Mironova, Vera & Petrova, Maria & Zhuravskaya, Ekaterina, 2012. "Cross-border media and nationalism: Evidence from Serbian radio in Croatia," CEPR Discussion Papers 9042, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Christopher Coyne & Adam Pellillo, 2012. "The art of seeing like a state: State building in Afghanistan, the DR Congo, and beyond," The Review of Austrian Economics, Springer, vol. 25(1), pages 35-52, March.
  3. Beath, Andrew & Christia, Fotini & Enikolopov, Ruben, 2012. "Winning hearts and minds through development ? evidence from a field experiment in Afghanistan," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6129, The World Bank.
  4. Nathan Nunn & Nancy Qian, 2012. "Aiding Conflict: The Impact of U.S. Food Aid on Civil War," NBER Working Papers 17794, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Andrew Beath & Fotini Christia & Ruben Enikolopov, 2011. "Winning Hearts and Minds through Development Aid: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Afghanistan," Working Papers w0166, Center for Economic and Financial Research (CEFIR).

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