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23 J. Conflict Resol. 3 (1979)

handle is hein.journals/jcfltr23 and id is 1 raw text is: 

Arms Races

and Escalation


University of British Colunbia
and Universiti of Michigan

   Although major power arms races have been the subject of a great amount of mathe-
matical modelling, there has been little data-based research concerning their impact
on international war. This study attempts to determine whether or not these arms races
affect the probability that a serious dispute between major powers will escalate to
all-out war. To do this, an arms race index is constructed in the following manner:
a curve-fitting technique is employed to calculate changes in arms expenditures for
each major power as a function of time. The smoothed rates of increase for each of the
parties to a dispute are multiplied together, yielding an index whose values will be
high only if the two powers have engaged in rapid and simultaneous military expansion
prior to the dispute. It was found that disputes preceded by such an arms race
escalated to war 23 out of 28 times, while disputes not preceded by an arms race re-
sulted in war only 3 out of 71 times. It was concluded that at the very least, arms
races are an important early warning indicator of escalation potential, and may well
play a central role in the escalation process. The implications of this finding for the
current debate over SALT 11 were noted.


   More than 30 years have passed since Lewis Fry Richardson
began   his pioneering treatise on the dynamics   of arms  races (Richard-
son,  1960), and  nearly  two  decades  have gone   by since David  Singer
(1958)  and  Samuel   Huntington (1958) staked out their positions on

   AUTHOR'S NOTE: Revised version  of a paper presented to the Annual Meetings of
the Social Science History Association, Ann Arbor. Michigan, October 1977. Theauthor
would  like to thank Michael Champion, Richard Rosecrance. Bruce Russett. I)avid
Singer, Richard Stoll, Harald von Rickhoff, and Dina A. Zinnes for their many helpful
comments. The financial support of the Canada Council is gratefully acknowledged.

JOURNAL.  OF CONFLICT  RESOLUTION,  Vol. 23 No. I. March 1979 3-16
@  1979 Sage Publications, Inc.                                           3

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