The First World War is considered one of the classic examples of this phenomenon. Germany`s two most important decisions were reportedly motivated by the fear of falling behind the Entente in the arms race that was currently underway at the time. The first of these decisions was to fully support Austria-Hungary with the infamous “blank cheque” during the July crisis; the second was to launch a “pre-emptive” attack on the France in August 1914. [ii] The United States took a watchful eye on the Soviet Union`s quest for world domination as it expanded its power and influence in Eastern Europe, and the Soviet Union did not appreciate the geopolitical interference of the United States and the rearmament of America. The Balkan Wars of 1912 to 1913 could have triggered a European war involving Austria-Hungary, followed by Russia, Germany, France and possibly Britain. Although both conflicts remained local, tensions rose, prompting European armies to redouble their armament efforts and prepare for the seemingly inevitable major war. Whether an arms race contributes to the outbreak of war is also hotly debated. An arms race can increase the fear and hostility of the countries concerned, but it is difficult to assess whether it contributes to the war. Some empirical studies show that an arms race is associated with an increased likelihood of war.
However, it is not possible to say whether the arms race itself was a cause of the war or simply a symptom of existing tensions. From 1898, Germany began to build a combat fleet. Soon, a shipbuilding arms race with Britain began. From 1906, this naval race focused on building a new class of battleships developed in Britain – the Dreadnought. Designed around the firepower of heavy guns and powered by steam turbines, these huge ships made all previous warships obsolete. In both countries, the public – encouraged by the press, popular writers and Navy interest groups – called for more battleships. In fact, Germany could not hope to keep pace with the Royal Navy in the short term and began diverting much of its defense spending to the army in 1910. However, the damage to Germany`s relations with Britain proved irreversible. The existing scientific literature is divided on whether arms races correlate with war.  Specialists in international relations explain arms races in relation to the security dilemma, rationalist spiral models, states with revisionist objectives and models of deterrence.   After the First World War, many countries showed interest in arms control.
President Woodrow Wilson led the way by making it a key point in his famous fourteen-point speech of 1918, in which he laid out his vision for post-war peace. From 1897 to 1914, a maritime arms race took place between the United Kingdom and Germany.  British concern about the rapid increase in German naval power led to costly competition for the construction of Dreadnought-class ships. This tense arms race lasted until 1914, when war broke out. After the war, a new arms race developed between the victorious Allies, which was temporarily ended by the Washington Naval Treaty. The Japanese and Americans, too, quickly entered the race, partly to protect their own maritime interests and partly to achieve great power status. By 1905, the Japanese Navy had listed 6 battleships, 17 cruisers, 24 destroyers, and more than 60 torpedo boats.[viii] By 1898, the United States had expanded its navy from a handful of obsolete ships to a modern fleet of 6 battleships, 2 armored cruisers, and several light cruisers. [x] The U.S.
victory in the Spanish-American War had essentially established America as the Philippines` preeminent power in the Caribbean. These sample phrases are automatically selected from various online information sources to reflect the current use of the word “arms race”. The opinions expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us your feedback. There is extensive theoretical and empirical literature on the modelling of the arms race. These include theoretical game models based on the “prisoner`s dilemma” (), dynamic mathematical models based on Richardson`s model, and economic models often based on a “benefit-maximizing” framework. There is overlap between these categories. However, a closer look at some of the details of history suggests that this arms race was carried out by another force or cause, namely the use of deterrence and coercion strategies (or armed diplomacy) by major powers to intimidate or outsmart their rivals.
Each of these strategies was an integral part of the policy of the great powers. In the thirty years before the outbreak of world War I, these strategies, or rather the use (or abuse) by the great powers, led to the escalation of the arms race at various times. In other words, political and military leaders viewed rearmament not only as security threats or dilemmas, but also as opportunities; The arms race was as much an instrument of policy as the potential or actual use of force. As a result, state arming programs have become more of the grammar of political logic. The belief that naval power, as Mahan had written, could very well decide any battle forced the allies of Britain and Germany to also enter the race for the hectic sea. Table 3 shows naval forces, spending and spending increases since the beginning of the dreadnought revolution. Militarism is a belief or system in which the military is elevated and its needs and considerations receive excessive importance or priority. Militarism was a powerful force in Europe in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Although militarism alone did not trigger the First World War, it fueled a strong arms race and undermined the role of diplomacy as a means of dispute resolution.
In February 1906, as Europe`s diplomatic sands moved alarmingly against Germany and the Triple Alliance, the Royal Navy launched the Dreadnought and commissioned it in December. So far, state-of-the-art battleships have been derogatorily referred to as “pre-dreadnoughts.” The new vessel moved nearly 18,000 tonnes, not 12,000; was powered by steam turbines, not reciprocating engines; was capable of twenty-one knots, not eighteen; dotted with ten 12-inch rifles, not four; and was powered by coal, but designed to be converted into oil, a much more efficient fuel. The Dreadnought made all competing ships obsolete and forced other nations, especially Germany, into a desperate race to catch up. Although armed competition was ongoing and pacifists and socialists rightly feared the construction of weapons, the arms race did not necessarily threaten a war between the two alliances around 1904. Neither side has shaken its swords against the other, nor has there been any “fears of war” between the two alliances since the Balkan and German-French crises of the 1880s. The clouds of war had contracted and blown several times in recent decades, but they were mainly due to colonial incidents associated with Britain and did not threaten to precipitate European alliances into war.  Finally, although shipbuilding has indeed been turbulent, historian David G. Herrmann aptly described the rise of the army as a “steady development in peacetime,” with military leaders “more aware of the constraints they faced than of the need for rapid expansion.”  4. Militarism, combined with new weapons, emerging technologies and developments in industrial production, fuelled a European arms race in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
However, the “silent” arms race behind the scenes is particularly evident in these paintings: the ever-increasing annual increase in spending on new weapons in the inflation-free environment before 1914. In fact, as mentioned earlier, one killing device after another was taken over by armies whose fear of being left behind outweighed any skepticism. Thus, the arms competition, isolated from the public, where military planners planned and political leaders better informed calculated, was anything but silent. It is also striking that the increase in spending by the Triple Alliance was at least in 1912 and 1913 more dramatic than that of the Triple Entente. The qualitative structure in Italy was the fastest of all, as machine guns, new artillery models, aircraft and airships were adopted. Would the Turkish war be followed by another regional conflict, this time against France or Austria-Hungary? Only Italy expanded its armament faster than Germany, and just behind was Austria-Hungary. By 1904, however, Britain had concluded that Germany posed a major threat to justify certain preparatory measures. In April this year, for example, Britain and France signed an agreement that recognised their common interests in North Africa. The main objective of the agreement was to strengthen British imperial interests by ruling out the possibility of a French threat in North Africa. But he also tried to facilitate the solidarity of the two nations with Germany by avoiding conflicts between them.
Later that year, First Sea Lord John “Jacky” Fisher (1841-1920) began moving battleships from the Mediterranean and the Far East to inland waters, while accelerating plans for naval bases in Scotland. Although the first measure was aimed at saving money by decommissioning former warships and transferring them to a reserve force, and the second created a base for operations against the Russian Large Baltic Fleet, both were also steps to prepare for a possible naval conflict with Germany. In late 1904, Fisher finally began designing HMS Dreadnought, a new super battleship that had nothing to fear, and another new class of powerful and even faster ships, the “Battlecruisers”. These innovative projects reflected the same British need to remain flexible towards all potential enemies.