arms race


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arms race

the competition between NATION STATES to attain a position of military superiority over adversaries. In its contemporary usage the concept has been applied especially to the competition between the US and the USSR. This has taken the form of a dramatic increase in the size of nuclear arsenals and an intensification of weapons development. Each technological advance by one side has produced an attempt by the other side to build superior weapons, which the initial mover has then to attempt to further improve upon. The pattern can be characterized as one of action-reaction. An early statistical study of arms races in these terms was made by L. F. Richardson, The Statistics ofDeadly Quarrels (1960).

Although arms races between major powers have attracted most attention, they also occur between minor powers (e.g. between the Arab states and Israel), where their outcome may more often lead to war than those between major powers. A major consequence of the arms race between the US and the USSR has been economic ‘waste’. Although it was once suggested that its economic effect may have been to sustain a post-World War economic boom (see MILITARY INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX), more recently it has been proposed that it has acted as a brake on the economic prosperity of nation-states with the largest military commitments (e.g. the slower growth and relative economic weakness of Britain and the US compared with Germany or Japan). Undoubtedly, excessive military commitments have had this effect in the USSR, leading some commentators to suggest that the COLD WAR has been won by the Western powers as a consequence of this burden. See also NUCLEAR DETERRENCE, BALANCE OF POWER.

References in periodicals archive ?
The latter announcement, coming weeks before Putin is slated to win another term as president, is seen by analysts as setting the clock back to the era of superpower arms races, amid growing fears that the world may be entering a new phase of Cold War.
Russia is not going to be pulled into any arms race.
exploded nuclear weapons in 1945, it started arms race threatening its adversary, Russia, which followed the suit in 1949 just 4 years after U.
The "prevention of an arms race in outer space would avert a grave danger for international peace and security"; and that,
President SVI Dr Zafar Iqbal Cheema said the arms race in the region was being led by India, which has great power aspirations.
In their letter, the founders warn the review conference of the convention on conventional weapons that this arms race threatens to usher in the "third revolution in warfare" after gunpowder and nuclear arms.
This arms race has become so dangerous that Pakistan's spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has revealed that India was building a nuclear safe city in order to protect its leadership and important personalities in case of a nuclear war.
He said Pakistan did not want to enter in arms race but it would disturb balance of power in the region.
It is a folly to engage an arms race with a giant nation, the President said, referring to China.
Last year's controversial Iran nuclear deal has sparked an atomic arms race, claimed Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon following a meeting with Jordan's King Abdullah.
TEHRAN (FNA)- The United States is on the brink of a new nuclear arms race that will elevate the risk of nuclear apocalypse to Cold War levels, former Secretary of Defense William Perry warned.
This arms race exists because the transfer of buy and sell offers from any of the actual computerized exchanges to the National Market System (NMS) takes real time.