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The phrase arms race, in its original usage, is a competition between two or more parties to have the best armed forces. Each party competes to produce larger numbers of weapons, greater armies, or superior military technology in a technological escalation.
International conflict specialist Theresa Clair Smith, defines the term as "the participation of two or more nation-states in apparently competitive or interactive increases in quantity or quality of war material and/or persons under arms."
Nowadays the term is mostly used to describe any competition where there is no absolute goal, only the relative goal of staying ahead of the other competitors, essentially the goal of proving to be "better".
Examples of arms races
The size and power of battleships grew rapidly before, during, and after World War I: a result of competitive shipbuilding among a number of naval powers, brought to an end by the Washington Naval Treaty
From the dates 1891 to 1919, an arms race between several European countries, including Germany, France, Russia, (as well as some other smaller countries,) took place. Germany's envy of Britain's superior navy in the run up to World War I resulted in a costly building competition of Dreadnought-class ships. This tense arms race lasted until June 1914, when after two antagonistic power blocs were formed because of the rivalry, the World War broke out. If it weren't for this arms Race, World war I may never have taken place, as the governments of these nations would not have felt they had the military technology and navies to risk their citizens in the war. After the war, a new arms race developed among the victorious Allies. The Washington Naval Treaty was only partly able to put an end to the race. Prior to WWI, a dreadnought arms race also took place in South America.
Nuclear arms race
A nuclear arms race developed during the Cold War, an intense period between the Soviet Union and the United States. This was one of the main causes that began the cold war. On both sides, perceived advantages of the adversary (such as the "missile gap") led to large spending on armaments and the stockpiling of vast nuclear arsenals. Proxy wars were fought all over the world (e.g. in the Middle East, Korea, Vietnam) in which the superpowers' conventional weapons were pitted against each other. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, tensions decreased and the nuclear arsenal of both countries were reduced.
More generically, the term "arms race" is used to describe any competition where there is no absolute goal, only the relative goal of staying ahead of the other competitors in rank or knowledge. An arms race may also imply futility as the competitors spend a great deal of time and money, yet end up in the same situation as if they had never started the arms race.
An evolutionary arms race is a system where two populations are evolving in order to continuously one-up members of the other population. An example of this is the escalation of drug resistance in pathogens, in step with the use of increasingly powerful drugs.
This is related to the Red Queen effect (Red Queen's Hypothesis#Arms race), where two organisms co-evolve to overcome each other but each fails to progress relative to the other interactant.
In technology, there are close analogues to the arms races between parasites and hosts, such as the arms race between computer virus writers and antivirus software writers, or spammers against Internet service providers and E-mail software writers.
- Richard J. Barnet: Der amerikanische Rüstungswahn. Rowohlt, Reinbek 1984, ISBN 3-499-11450-X (German)
- Jürgen Bruhn: Der Kalte Krieg oder: Die Totrüstung der Sowjetunion. Focus, Gießen 1995, ISBN 3-88349-434-8 (German)
Fall Out Boy - This Ain't A Scene, It's An Arms Race
Music video by Fall Out Boy performing This Ain't A Scene, It's An Arms Race. YouTube view counts pre-VEVO: 8548491. (C) 2006 The Island Def Jam Music Group.
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Yahoo Eurosport UK (blog)
Yahoo Eurosport UK (blog)
Fri, 22 Aug 2014 03:30:13 -0700
Probably more than any other pairing in football, Barca and Real are in a constant high-end arms race in terms of transfers. You can almost plot where the clubs were at a given point in time from the signings they made that summer alone. There has ...
Fri, 22 Aug 2014 13:33:37 -0700
The face of industrial-scale bitcoin mining is changing with every passing month, having already pushed far beyond the bounds once envisioned, perhaps, by the hobby miners of four years ago. The landscape is much different now. Many large-scale mines ...
Fri, 22 Aug 2014 04:15:00 -0700
The schools of Compton, Los Angeles, appear to have embraced the nuclear war principle of Mutually Assured Destruction. After a national wave of school shootings, local police are arming themselves with semi-automatic AR-15 assault weapons – on the ...
Wall Street Journal
Wall Street Journal
Wed, 20 Aug 2014 16:14:18 -0700
His book "Excellent Sheep" is a cri de coeur against the credentials arms-race that now defines young adulthood—and even childhood—for many Americans. But you don't have to take his word for it: The book features interviews and correspondence with ...
Fri, 22 Aug 2014 02:22:30 -0700
“Anyone who participates in this market has to participate in the technology arms race to some degree, and there is clearly a cost associated with that,” says Richard Anthony, global head of FX electronic risk at HSBC. According to Anthony, if spreads ...
Wed, 13 Aug 2014 02:33:45 -0700
Irrespective of how the popularity of high frequency trading changes in the future, this need for speed will continue to drive a technological arms race where the weapons of choice include new types of computer circuits hard-wired with dedicated ...
Tue, 19 Aug 2014 00:02:36 -0700
CounterSpy offers a light-hearted take on the Cold War, but it probably needed some more time to cook. While the Cold War has appeared as the setting for a large swath of games, the conflict is generally portrayed as seriously as it happened. The world ...
Burnt Orange Nation
Tue, 19 Aug 2014 08:56:15 -0700
As the Texas A&M Aggies and Baylor Bears work on their renovated and brand-new football facilities, respectively, the Texas Longhorns are contemplating the future for Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, which is no longer the class of Texas college ...
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