Arms race

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The term arms race in its original usage describes a competition between two or more parties for military supremacy. Each party competes to produce larger numbers of weapons, greater armies, or superior military technology in a technological escalation. For example, one such competition manifested itself in the rapid development by the United States and the Soviet Union of more and better nuclear weapons during the Cold War (see: nuclear arms race). Carl Sagan once famously described the overkill in this arms race with the analogy of "two men standing waist deep in gasoline; one with three matches, the other with five." The Soviet Union devoted their command economy to the arms race and with the deployment of the SS-18 in the late 1970s achieved first strike superiority. However, the strain of competition against the great spending power of the United States created enormous economic problems during Mikhail Gorbachev's attempt at konversiya, the transition to a consumer based, mixed economy, and hastened the collapse of the Soviet Union.

More generically, the term "arms race" is also used to describe any competition where there is no absolute goal, only the relative goal of staying ahead of the other competitors. Evolutionary arms races are common occurrences, e.g. predators evolving more effective means to catch prey while their prey evolves more effective means of evasion. This is sometimes called the Red Queen effect. In addition to predators, parasites can force their hosts into an arms race.

In technology, there are close analogues to the arms races between parasites and hosts, such as the arms race between computer virus writers and anti-virus software writers, or spammers against Internet Service Providers and E-mail software writers.

Lewis Fry Richardson made an arms race model, trying to retrodict World War I, where he showed how two countries would go to war if more money was spent in the arms race than in trade.

[edit] See also

ca:Cursa armamentista

de:Wettrüsten eo:Vetarmado he:מירוץ חימוש lt:Ginklavimosi varžybos hu:Hidegháborús fegyverkezési verseny nl:Wapenwedloop ja:軍備拡張競争 pl:Wyścig zbrojeń ro:Cursa înarmării zh:军备竞赛

Arms race

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