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 ?
In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said the test showed the United States was stoking a new arms race and confrontation, which would have a serious negative impact on regional and global security.
But he also insisted the US was not embarking on a new arms race."The traditional sense of an arms race has been in a nuclear context," he said.
Whether there will be a new arms race or not, "the choice is in the US hands", Ryabkov stated.
It is a bad omen, it will signal the arms race dito sa part ng (here in this part of the) Asia-Pacific," he pointed out.
In the absence of a policy of territorial claims, military aggression, occupation and ethnic cleansing, there will be no need for an arms race, and this will lead to the establishment of peace and security in the region.
Relations between Moscow and Washington are strained and both countries have said they are quitting the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, stoking fears of a wider arms race.
Pakistan had given India a suggestion aimed at stopping an arms race in the region but so far New Delhi has not responded to it, the foreign minister lamented.
Disarmament is an issue of the greatest importance to the world, since it depends on the maintenance of international peace and security, the reduction of the risks of wars and arms races, the improvement of regional stability, as well as the redistribution of human resources.
Now that the US is allocating resources for new missile research and development, it is clear that the arms race is well and truly underway, and threatening the international agenda with unforeseen consequences.
The Missile Shield certainly unleashes a devastating new round of an arms race between/among the strategic competitors.
INF, signed in 1987, was regarded as a landmark for limiting the arms race between the two powers.
Concerns about an artificial-intelligence (AI) arms race between advanced militaries have been raised by many experts and analysts, including SpaceX founder Elon Musk and United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.