IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Arms Diffusion and War


  • Muhammet A. Bas

    () (Department of Government, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA)

  • Andrew J. Coe

    (Department of Government, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA)


The authors present a model of the relationship between the spread of new military technologies and the occurrence of war. A new technology could shift the balance of power, causing anticipatory war as one side tries to prevent the other from obtaining it. When one side already has it, war is more likely when the shift in power is large, likely, and durable. When neither side has it, war is more likely when the expected shift is asymmetric (e.g., one side is more likely to get it) and when the two sides fear that a war will occur once one of them has it. The authors illustrate the model with historical examples from the spread of firearms (the Musket Wars in precolonial New Zealand) and of nuclear weapons (the end of US nuclear monopoly and the 1967 Six-Day War). A broader implication is that major power competition can unintentionally cause wars elsewhere.

Suggested Citation

  • Muhammet A. Bas & Andrew J. Coe, 2012. "Arms Diffusion and War," Journal of Conflict Resolution, Peace Science Society (International), vol. 56(4), pages 651-674, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:jocore:v:56:y:2012:i:4:p:651-674

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Dan Kovenock & Brian Roberson & Roman M. Sheremeta, 2010. "The Attack and Defense of Weakest-Link Networks," Working Papers 10-14, Chapman University, Economic Science Institute.
    2. Subhasish Chowdhury & Dan Kovenock & Roman Sheremeta, 2013. "An experimental investigation of Colonel Blotto games," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 52(3), pages 833-861, April.
    3. Lei, Vivian & Noussair, Charles N & Plott, Charles R, 2001. "Nonspeculative Bubbles in Experimental Asset Markets: Lack of Common Knowledge of Rationality vs. Actual Irrationality," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 69(4), pages 831-859, July.
    4. Michael Kremer, 1993. "The O-Ring Theory of Economic Development," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 108(3), pages 551-575.
    5. Vicki Bier & Santiago Oliveros & Larry Samuelson, 2007. "Choosing What to Protect: Strategic Defensive Allocation against an Unknown Attacker," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 9(4), pages 563-587, August.
    6. Kvasov, Dmitriy, 2007. "Contests with limited resources," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 136(1), pages 738-748, September.
    7. Sheremeta, Roman M., 2010. "Experimental comparison of multi-stage and one-stage contests," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 68(2), pages 731-747, March.
    8. Roman M. Sheremeta, 2010. "Expenditures and Information Disclosure in Two-Stage Political Contests," Journal of Conflict Resolution, Peace Science Society (International), vol. 54(5), pages 771-798, October.
    9. Douglas Davis & Robert Reilly, 1998. "Do too many cooks always spoil the stew? An experimental analysis of rent-seeking and the role of a strategic buyer," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 95(1), pages 89-115, April.
    10. Christopher Harris & John Vickers, 1987. "Racing with Uncertainty," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 54(1), pages 1-21.
    11. Potters, Jan & de Vries, Casper G. & van Winden, Frans, 1998. "An experimental examination of rational rent-seeking," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 14(4), pages 783-800, November.
    12. Sergiu Hart, 2008. "Discrete Colonel Blotto and General Lotto games," International Journal of Game Theory, Springer;Game Theory Society, vol. 36(3), pages 441-460, March.
    13. Roman M. Sheremeta, 2011. "Contest Design: An Experimental Investigation," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 49(2), pages 573-590, April.
    14. Charles A. Holt & Susan K. Laury, 2002. "Risk Aversion and Incentive Effects," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1644-1655, December.
    15. Arye L. Hillman & John G. Riley, 1989. "Politically Contestable Rents And Transfers," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 1(1), pages 17-39, March.
    16. Daniel Friedman & Kai Pommerenke & Rajan Lukose & Garrett Milam & Bernardo Huberman, 2007. "Searching for the sunk cost fallacy," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 10(1), pages 79-104, March.
    17. Christopher Harris & John Vickers, 1985. "Perfect Equilibrium in a Model of a Race," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 52(2), pages 193-209.
    18. Leininger, Wolfgang, 1991. "Patent competition, rent dissipation, and the persistence of monopoly: The role of research budgets," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 146-172, February.
    19. Price, Curtis R. & Sheremeta, Roman M., 2011. "Endowment effects in contests," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 111(3), pages 217-219, June.
    20. Roman Sheremeta & Jingjing Zhang, 2010. "Can groups solve the problem of over-bidding in contests?," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 35(2), pages 175-197, July.
    21. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
    22. Coughlin, Peter J, 1992. "Pure Strategy Equilibria in a Class of Systems Defense Games," International Journal of Game Theory, Springer;Game Theory Society, vol. 20(3), pages 195-210.
    23. Christopher Budd & Christopher Harris & John Vickers, 1993. "A Model of the Evolution of Duopoly: Does the Asymmetry between Firms Tend to Increase or Decrease?," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 60(3), pages 543-573.
    24. Dan Kovenock & Brian Roberson, 2010. "The Optimal Defense of Networks of Targets," Purdue University Economics Working Papers 1251, Purdue University, Department of Economics.
    25. Fudenberg, Drew & Gilbert, Richard & Stiglitz, Joseph & Tirole, Jean, 1983. "Preemption, leapfrogging and competition in patent races," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 3-31, June.
    26. Snyder, James M, 1989. "Election Goals and the Allocation of Campaign Resources," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(3), pages 637-660, May.
    27. Jack Hirshleifer, 1983. "From weakest-link to best-shot: The voluntary provision of public goods," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 41(3), pages 371-386, January.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. repec:eee:gamebe:v:104:y:2017:i:c:p:177-189 is not listed on IDEAS


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:sae:jocore:v:56:y:2012:i:4:p:651-674. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (SAGE Publications). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.