Arms Race Theory: Strategy and Structure of Behavior

By Craig Etcheson | Go to book overview

6 SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS ON ARMS ACCUMULATION

For a long time, preparation for and conduct of war has served as a central institution of human societies. At the present stage of historical development, however, it seems likely that another conflict on the scale and at the scope of this century's global actions would not serve the interests of any of the advanced industrial nation-states, the primary belligerents in any such general conflict. In fact, it is not at all inconceivable that a large-scale nuclear war would bring to an end the state-centric system as it has coexisted with Western civilization since the state system emerged from the ruins of the Holy Roman Empire. If the prognosticators of the "nuclear winter" theory are even close to correct, this is made certain.

Thus, at the present stage of international development a global fight might not even serve the interests of the international system as a whole in the sense that war has served to maintain the state-centric system. Therefore, if one values the maintenance of an international system that looks at least remotely similar to the present one, it seems that the avoidance of overt general war is a worthy goal. Stable, intelligently managed, and predictable change in the strategic arsenals of the major powers, most agree, will help in this avoidance effort. How to do this is the question.


6.1 Understanding Strategic Interaction Is Important

This research effort has been concerned with attempts to understand the evolution of military bureaucracies and with the interactions of the bureaucracies with each other and with the observer. What has not been done, however, is pause to ask why this is an important question. This section addresses my concern with understanding what controls change in military organizations. I believe that such an understanding is of essential importance. If one has no clear analytical idea of how large modern military bureaucracies change, then proposals to change the institutions can hardly be founded upon solid ground. And there are countless such proposals. Some of them may have merit. Most probably don't. Many are contradictory. Which is which?

For example, in the decade of the 1980s, the "nuclear freeze" proposal--or rather proposals, for it is of many shades--has been much bandied about. In the lurch, Alton Fry suggests the "build down" proposal. Ronald Reagan offers the "strategic defense initiative." Mikhail Gorbachev offers the complement, a "star wars ban." These are only a few of the recent proposals, those receiving the most media attention. Many more lurk in the halls of government and academia, waiting to be sprung upon eager

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Arms Race Theory: Strategy and Structure of Behavior
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Recent Titles in Contributions in Military Studies ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • INTRODUCTION: STRATEGY AND THE STRUCTURE OF BEHAVIOR IN ARMS RACES 1
  • 1 - The Problem of Interaction in Arms Accumulation 3
  • Notes 17
  • 2 - Theories of Interaction in Arms Accumulation 25
  • Notes 57
  • 3 - Methods for Representing Interaction in Arms Accumulation 75
  • Notes 108
  • 4 - A Computational Model of Arms Accumulation 115
  • Notes 133
  • 5 - Strategies of Arms Accumulation Research 135
  • Notes 155
  • 6 - Summary and Conclusions on Arms Accumulation 159
  • Notes 166
  • APPENDICES 169
  • SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY 183
  • Index 239
  • About the Author 247
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