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

Listed author(s):
  • Oeindrila Dube
  • Suresh Naidu

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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File URL: http://www.cgdev.org/content/publications/detail/1423498
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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
Handle: RePEc:cgd:wpaper:197
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  1. Steven C. Poe, 1991. "Human Rights and the Allocation of US Military Assistance," Journal of Peace Research, Peace Research Institute Oslo, vol. 28(2), pages 205-216, May.
  2. repec:cup:apsrev:v:97:y:2003:i:01:p:75-90_00 is not listed on IDEAS
  3. Abrams, Burton A & Lewis, Kenneth A, 1993. "Human Rights and the Distribution of U.S. Foreign Aid," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 77(4), pages 815-821, December.
  4. Simeon Djankov & Jose Montalvo & Marta Reynal-Querol, 2008. "The curse of aid," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 13(3), pages 169-194, September.
  5. Jorge Restrepo & Michael Spagat & Juan Vargas, 2004. "The Dynamics of the Columbian Civil Conflict: A New Dataset," Homo Oeconomicus, Institute of SocioEconomics, vol. 21, pages 396-429.
  6. Oeindrila Dube & Juan F. Vargas, 2013. "Commodity Price Shocks and Civil Conflict: Evidence from Colombia," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 80(4), pages 1384-1421.
  7. Morrison, Kevin M., 2009. "Oil, Nontax Revenue, and the Redistributional Foundations of Regime Stability," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 63(01), pages 107-138, January.
  8. de Ree, Joppe & Nillesen, Eleonora, 2009. "Aiding violence or peace? The impact of foreign aid on the risk of civil conflict in sub-Saharan Africa," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(2), pages 301-313, March.
  9. Dunning, Thad, 2004. "Conditioning the Effects of Aid: Cold War Politics, Donor Credibility, and Democracy in Africa," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 58(02), pages 409-423, April.
  10. Steven C. Poe & James Meernik, 1995. "US Military Aid in the 1980s: A Global Analysis," Journal of Peace Research, Peace Research Institute Oslo, vol. 32(4), pages 399-411, November.
  11. Paul Collier & Anke Hoeffler, 2002. "AID, Policy and Peace: Reducing the risks of civil conflict," Defence and Peace Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 13(6), pages 435-450.
  12. William Easterly & Shanker Satyanath & Daniel Berger, 2008. "Superpower Interventions and their Consequences for Democracy: An Empirical Inquiry," NBER Working Papers 13992, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Eric Neumayer, 2003. "Do Human Rights Matter in Bilateral Aid Allocation? A Quantitative Analysis of 21 Donor Countries," Social Science Quarterly, Southwestern Social Science Association, vol. 84(3), pages 650-666.
  14. repec:cup:apsrev:v:56:y:1962:i:02:p:301-309_07 is not listed on IDEAS
  15. Daron Acemoglu & James A. Robinson & Rafael J. Santos, 2013. "The Monopoly Of Violence: Evidence From Colombia," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 11, pages 5-44, 01.
  16. Goldsmith, Arthur A., 2001. "Foreign Aid and Statehood in Africa," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 55(01), pages 123-148, December.
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