Reasons behind Arms Race: A Theoretical Perspective on Arms Race in the Global Context
A Review of Related Literature Submitted to: Professor Rommel Banlaoi Submitted by: Shimizu, Aiko
III – AB International Studies Major in Development Studies Submitted on:
The 13th of October 2012
Arms race is a global phenomenon that cannot easily be deterred. If during the Cold War the major participants of the arms race were just US and the Soviet Union (with Great Britain and France just at the side but still considered as nuclear powers during that era), well now, Asia and the Middle East are joining the competition. Back then the U.S. had about 24,000 operationally deployed nuclear weapons and Russia had nearly 2,500. Compare that to today’s situation where US now only has 1,980 deployed nuclear weapons, and Russia has between 4,537 and 6,537. India, Pakistan, UK, France and Israel have 1 to 400 each, and China may have something between 200 to more than 1,000 (Sokolski, 2012). It can clearly be seen that US’s dominance with regard to arms proliferation has decreased in the modern times and Russia is now leading in this race with other states just following after the US. But what made these other countries follow the footsteps of the major players during the Cold War? To put it simply, what made them join this inexorable arms race? Is it because of the fear and threat that comes with the arms proliferation of other countries or are there other factors that contribute to this competition? This paper aims to answer these questions and present a deeper understanding of arms race and its causes through theories and analyzing the issue through different perspectives.
I. Definition: What is Arms Race?
The term “arms race” has a lot of definitions, but for this paper a broad and inclusive definition will be more fitting. According to Kydd (2000) “Arms race is a situation in which two or more states involved in a conflictual relationship compete with each other over the strength of their armed forces.” This conflcitual relationship may be an effect of disagreements regarding various issues, misunderstandings or mutual fears. The competition has two aspects, quantitative and qualitative. The quantitative aspect pertains to the size of the armed forces while the qualitative refers to the technological features of weapons or the strategic competence of the troops (Huntington, 1958, as cited by Kydd, 2000).
II. Theoretical Explanations: Why is this happening?
This paper will first discuss a traditional perspective on arms race presented by Andrew Kydd (2000) and this is represented by the three principle theories that were developed by the post – World War II American Social Science. These are the Repeated Prisoner’s Dilemma (RPD), the spiral model, and the deterrence model. According to the RPD, arms races are perceived as repeated games in which a non-cooperative equilibrium represents the arms race while a cooperative equilibrium involving strategies based on trade off, such as Tit – for – tat or retaliation represents arms control (Axelrod, 1984 as cited by Kydd, 2000). This model simply suggests that one state thinks that non-cooperation (i.e. increasing arms proliferation) is more beneficial and so it chooses this option not knowing that other states have this sort of thinking as well, making it a Prisoner’s Dilemma. It’s a situation where one agent thinks it is gaining the upper hand by cheating when in reality both parties are becoming worse off. In other words, one state increases its arms, thinking having more arms gets them the upper hand in the situation for they believe the other states are following the rules of arms control when in fact they are doing the same thing and are unwittingly increasing their arms as well. This sort of logic is not adhering to the concept of future payoff or long-term results. If states think far ahead they would see the disadvantageous results of this type of...
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