DEFINING THE PROBLEM
Whether states choose to accelerate their military expenditures in response to widespread industrialization and rapid domestic economic growth is a question of considerable policy relevance to the United States.1 If the relationship obtains, states with rapidly industrializing economies are likely also to develop significant military capabilities. But the extent to which this relationship should concern U.S. policymakers, if it obtains, depends on at least two additional factors: the potential economic size and strategic importance of the state (could it become a “great power”?) and the motives behind its military buildup.
Size is important because big states have immediate command over more resources than small states. Geography is important because strategically placed states have the potential to extort concessions from other states. These characteristics make big or strategic states inherently worth watching. Motives are also important, in part because U.S. actions based on a misreading of motives could trigger an increasingly belligerent and adversarial relationship, damaging to all parties. For example, an aggressive arms buildup by any state, particularly a big one, might warrant a U.S. counterresponse. But an overreactive U.S. response to what is a purely defensive arms buildup____________________