United States Military Assistance: An Empirical Perspective

United States Military Assistance: An Empirical Perspective

United States Military Assistance: An Empirical Perspective

United States Military Assistance: An Empirical Perspective

Excerpt

This study of Cold-War U.S. military assistance is a refinement of the premise and conclusion of my previous explorations of classical wartime and Soviet Cold-War military assistance to which it is an obvious sequel. The fundamental premise of all studies is that “military assistance is a discrete, coherent, type or mode of international relations, not simply an obsolescent policy tool.” Not confined to a single era, diplomatic paradigm, or even to a particular context of international relations, the donor-recipient relationship imposes a new set of constraints on the donor and the recipient in terms of policy and strategy. From the perspective of establishing and managing the donor-recipient relationship, neither the operational, military content of military assistance nor the developmental or other effects in a recipient country are the focus of interest.

The extent of weaponry transferred, the costs to U.S. taxpayers, the methods of transfer—sales or gifts—and the implications for the United States have been not only debated in every Congress since World War II, but analyzed by four generations of pundits, politicians, and scholars. Quantitative discussions of trends in arms transfers seem characteristically to involve current dollars—with the appearance of alarming growth in the 1970s—as the unit of measurement or transfers of major systems—with their post-Vietnam significance—as the phenomenon of relevance. A further distortion of arms transfers arises from the common emphasis on industrial agreements and contracts rather than actual deliveries. Neither is it instructive—except for narrow case studies—in considering U.S. military assistance to limit analysis to brief periods, since Washington has been using arms transfers as routine instruments since before World War II. The cyclically fashionable concerns about Washington's current arms-transfer policies fade into a background of relatively stable deliveries of U.S. weaponry over half a century of donorrecipient relationships.

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