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

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  • Oeindrila Dube
  • Suresh Naidu

Abstract

Does foreign military assistance strengthen or further weaken fragile states facing internal conflict? Aid may strengthen the state by bolstering its repressive capacity vis-à-vis armed non-state actors, or weaken it if resources are diverted to these very groups. We examine how U.S. military aid affects political violence 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. We use an instrument based on worldwide increases in U.S. military aid (excluding Latin America). We find that U.S. military assistance leads to differential increases in attacks by paramilitaries, but has no effect on guerrilla attacks. Aid also results in more paramilitary (but not guerrilla) homicides during election years, particularly in politically competitive municipalities. The findings suggest that foreign military assistance may strengthen armed non-state actors, undermining domestic political institutions.

Suggested Citation

  • Oeindrila Dube & Suresh Naidu, 2014. "Bases, Bullets and Ballots: the Effect of U.S. Military Aid on Political Conflict in Colombia," NBER Working Papers 20213, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:20213
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    Cited by:

    1. Melissa Dell & Pablo Querubin, 2016. "Nation Building Through Foreign Intervention: Evidence from Discontinuities in Military Strategies," NBER Working Papers 22395, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Bluhm, Richard & Gassebner, Martin & Langlotz, Sarah & Schaudt, Paul, 2016. "Fueling conflict? : (De)escalation and bilateral aid," MERIT Working Papers 053, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
    3. Austin L. Wright, 2016. "Economic Shocks and Rebel," HiCN Working Papers 232, Households in Conflict Network.
    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. Daniel Mejía & Pascual Restrepo, 2008. "The War on Illegal Drug Production and Trafficking: An Economic Evaluation of Plan Colombia," DOCUMENTOS CEDE 005123, UNIVERSIDAD DE LOS ANDES-CEDE.
    6. Stefano Della Vigna & Ruben Enikolopov & Vera Mironova & Maria Petrova & Ekaterina Zhuravskaya, 2014. "Cross-Border Media and Nationalism: Evidence from Serbian Radio in Croatia," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 6(3), pages 103-132, July.
    7. Raúl Sánchez de la Sierra, "undated". "On the Origins of States: Stationary Bandits and Taxation in Eastern Congo," HiCN Working Papers 194, Households in Conflict Network.
    8. Mejia, Daniel & Restrepo, Pascual, 2016. "The economics of the war on illegal drug production and trafficking," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 126(PA), pages 255-275.
    9. Dimant, Eugen & Krieger, Tim & Meierrieks, Daniel, 2017. "Negative returns: U.S. military policy and anti-american terrorism," Discussion Paper Series 2017-05, University of Freiburg, Wilfried Guth Endowed Chair for Constitutional Political Economy and Competition Policy.
    10. Mitra, Anirban & Mitra, Shabana, 2016. "Redistribution of Economic Resources due to Conflict: The Maoist Uprising in Nepal," MPRA Paper 75545, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    11. Juan Felipe Riaño-Rodríguez, 2014. "More than Words and Good Intentions: The Political Agenda-Setting Power," DOCUMENTOS CEDE 011011, UNIVERSIDAD DE LOS ANDES-CEDE.
    12. Sarah Langlotz & Niklas Potrafke, 2016. "Does Development Aid Increase Military Expenditure?," CESifo Working Paper Series 6088, CESifo Group Munich.
    13. Wong, Pui-Hang, 2017. "How development aid explains (or not) the rise and fall of insurgent attacks in Iraq," MERIT Working Papers 006, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
    14. Raluca Dragusanu & Daniele Giovannucci & Nathan Nunn, 2014. "The Economics of Fair Trade," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 28(3), pages 217-236, Summer.
    15. Leopoldo Fergusson & Pablo Querubín & Nelson A. Ruiz & Juan F. Vargas, 2017. "The Real Winner's Curse," DOCUMENTOS CEDE 015279, UNIVERSIDAD DE LOS ANDES-CEDE.
    16. Arvind Magesan & Eik Leong Swee, "undated". "Is Happiness Really a Warm Gun? The Consequences of U.S. Weapons Sales for Political Violence," Working Papers 2015-09, Department of Economics, University of Calgary, revised 25 Jun 2015.
    17. Beath,Andrew & Christia,Fotini & Enikolopov,Ruben & 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.
    18. Bojicic-Dzelilovic, Vesna & Kostovicova, Denisa & Escobar, Mariana & Bjelica, Jelena, 2015. "Organised crime and international aid subversion: evidence from Colombia and Afghanistan," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 62748, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    19. 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).
    20. Jorge Gallego, 2016. "Civil Conflict and Voting Behavior: Evidence," DOCUMENTOS DE TRABAJO 015162, UNIVERSIDAD DEL ROSARIO.
    21. 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;Society for the Development of Austrian Economics, vol. 25(1), pages 35-52, March.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H56 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - National Security and War
    • O54 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Latin America; Caribbean

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