Arms Diffusion and War

Muhammet A. Bas, Andrew J. Coe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)651-674
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Conflict Resolution
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2012


  • bargaining models
  • nuclear weapons
  • preventive war
  • proliferation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Business, Management and Accounting
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


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