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The deployment of military forces abroad has been a major component of the US’s grand strategy since the beginning of the Cold War. However, some scholars have argued that the presence of US military personnel abroad creates a series of negative externalities afflicting local communities. We put some of these claims to the test by looking at the effect of US military deployments on crime rates in the host-state. Using cross-national crime statistics from the United Nations and data on US troop deployments, we examine whether US military deployments are associated with higher levels of criminal activity across a large subset of crimes. In aggregate, the mere presence of troops does not increase the criminal activity in a state; however, there is a conditional effect when we account for a difference in culture between the host-state and the US; the presence of foreign deployed troops is associated with higher levels of property-related crimes in a country. Consequently, this paper contributes to a better understanding of the impact that US military deployments, and US foreign policy more broadly, have had on other countries, and also enhances our understanding of the micro-level factors that might affect relationships between alliance partners.

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This is an author-produced, peer-reviewed version of this article. The final, definitive version of this document can be found online at Conflict Management and Peace Science, published by SAGE Publications on behalf of Peace Science Society (International). Copyright restrictions may apply. DOI: 10.1177/0738894213484055.