The transfer of arms and the diffusion of democracy: Do arms promote or undermine the "third wave"?

Academic Article


  • The post-Cold War world has witnessed a proliferation of countries governed by democratic rule. Consequently, optimism has arisen about the prospects for the spread of freedom along with democratic peace and prosperity. Along these lines, many democratic countries have made the active promotion of democracy an explicit goal and a condition for third world countries' assistance. However, such intentions may be threatened by the ever-present arms trade. Not only do arms transfers play a key role in the foreign policies of many democratic countries, but many developing countries continue to purchase arms from abroad at a steady rate. From the perspective of the developing recipients, this study seeks to empirically assess the impact of the arms trade on democratization. To this end, this paper utilizes an exploratory data technique, locally weighted scatterplot smoother (LOWESS) to examine data for developing countries between 1982 and 1992. By exploring graphically the patterns and distributions revealed by these indicators, the implications of the international arms trade for the spread of democracy are assessed.
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    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Blanton SL
  • Start Page

  • 413
  • End Page

  • 429
  • Volume

  • 36
  • Issue

  • 3