Publication Date



Open access

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)


International Studies (Arts and Sciences)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

William C. Smith

Second Committee Member

Felipe Agüero

Third Committee Member

Juan Gabriel Tokatlian

Fourth Committee Member

Bruce Bagley


The accelerated trend of globalization has transformed the traditional role of the state. According to James Mittelman and Robert Johnston, the state is engaged in a courtesan role, which consists in shifting from serving citizens to acting as tacit partners in market relations, including with globally organized criminal groups. Building on the concept of the courtesan role of the state, this study addresses: (a) the general question of direct and indirect connections of states with illicit transactions in the post-Cold War, with a special attention to arms trafficking; (b) the reaction of the United States, as the remaining unique superpower, to the behavior of states associated with global illicit transactions, especially when involving security-sensitive cases such as arms transfer; (c) the security implications of this particular feature of the global illicit economy, particularly how threats are defined in international politics in the post-Cold War unipolar world. Focusing on the Argentina venta de armas case of illicit arms transfer to the Balkans and Ecuador in the 1990s, the research explores (a) the structural conditions and the domestic roots of a state engaged in illegal transactions in the post-Cold War; (b) the superpower's reaction to policies involving illicit transactions; (c) the security consequences. Through these venues, the dissertation aims at refining the debate in IR Theory to provide a better understanding of the international security dynamics in the post-Cold War.


Courtesan Politics; International Security; Arms Trafficking; Illicit Economy