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 this relapse into the world order of the Cold War and its nuclear arms race, there is now a third player, China
Moreover, in this rapid, back-to-the-future relapse into the world order of the Cold War and its nuclear arms race, there is now a third player, China, which is seen more as an aggressive economic competitor than a military one.
Conventional literature on arms race focuses attention on the orthodox perspective of cold war politics or state actors' rivalry especially between the United States of America (USA) and the former Soviet Union.
The incidence of arms race has an inherent connection with war and conflicts (Nte 2015: 45).
As China continues to rise economically and militarily, is an arms race or even a conflict in space between the United States and China inevitable?
The Very Real Potential of a Sino-US Extraterrestrial Arms Race
(39) Grant Hammond, Plowshares Into Swords: Arms Races in International Politics (Columbus: University of South Carolina Press, 1993), p.
Is Southeast Asia currently in the grip of a regional arms race? On the surface, there are five main empirical developments that may suggest that the possibility for such an arms race is overwhelming and ominous.
The purpose of that treaty was to prevent a defensive arms race that could lead to a renewed offensive nuclear arms race.
Trade wars had become a thing of the past; as had the time when the US and the rump Soviet Union engaged in a costly and dangerous arms race, especially at the height of the Cold War.
Horowitz, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, argues that what we are seeing is not a single AI arms race, but many races.
But after a short period of military downsizing since the fall of the Berlin Wall, the arms race has resumed.