Sunday, October 9, 2011

Literature Review: Arms Race and Michael Horn

  • Horn, Michael Dean. 1987. "Arms Races and the International System." PhD dissertation. Rochester, NY: Department of Political Science, University of Rochester.
  • Richardson, Lewis F. 1960. Arms and Insecurity. Pacific Grove, CA: Boxwood Press.
  • Huntington, Samuel P. 1958. "Arms races: prerequisites and results." Public Policy 8: 41-86.
  • Wallace, Michael D. 1979. "Arms races and escalation: some new evidence." Journal of Conflict Resolution 23: 3-16.
  • Morrow, James. 1989. "A Twist of Truth: A Reexamination of the Effects of Arms Races on the Occurrence of War." Journal of Conflict Resolution 33(3): 500-529.
Horn (1987) offers an independent means of determining when two countries are engaged in an arms race. His relatively straightforward measure has two qualifications for definition as an arms race. First, that the growth rates of a country's military expenditures are on average higher in the period preceding a dispute than in the whole period under study (for him, the Correlates of War period from 1816 to 1980). Second, in order to be classified as an arms race, the growth rate must be higher in the second half of the period than in the first. In this, he attempts to include the criterion of acceleration which is so vital to the Richardsonian distinction between stable and unstable arms races (Richardson, 1960, pp. 74-75). Only when growth is speeding up or seemingly out of control is there an arms race.

He finds that of longer arms races (he looks at Huntington's twelve-year period, cf. Huntington, 1958) over one-half end in war (Horn, 1987, p. 56). Experimenting with a shorter time period, Richardson's suggested six years (Richardson, 1960) yielded no significant relationship. He concludes from this that an arms race over the longer period is indicative of a continuing conflict of interests and/or hostile relationship between countries, but the shorter measure could easily catch incidental or shortterm conflicts that never reach the level of war.

He determines that arms races are considerably rarer than others have thought, but they do have some relation to the escalation of disputes to war, though his findings are less robust than Wallace's (Horn, 1987, p. 60; Morrow, 1989, p.502).

From: Sample, Susan G. 1997. "Arms Races and Dispute Escalation: Resolving the Debate." Journal of Peace Research 34: 7-22.

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