Geopolitics of Global Semiconductor Supply Chains

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On Military Technology Races: Insights from Richardson's Model of Arms Races

Title: On Military Technology Races: Insights from Richardson's Model of Arms Races

Abstract: This study attempts to explain the nature of military technology races between two states by adapting Richardson’s model of arms races. It approaches military technology races as a special case of qualitative arms race – a form of military competition that involves developing capabilities through technological innovations in weapon systems. The Richardsonian framework helps to devise three hypotheses about military technology races – two on superpower dyads and one on regional dyads.

Firstly, after a successful demonstration of technological superiority by a superpower, threat perceptions of the adversary will increase leading to an aggressive attempt to catch-up with its rival. Secondly, both superpowers – by the end of a technology race – would have conducted a large number of demonstrations and invested heavily into their scientific programmes. If the demonstrations translate into production of the weapons, the strategic environment is expected to be highly volatile. Thirdly, the military technology race between hostile regional dyads will attain stability only when the domestic costs for developing the technology, at least for one state, exceeds the strategic gains from acquiring that technology. These hypotheses are tested on two cases – spaceflight competition or “Space Race” between USA and USSR (for superpower dyads), and missile development competition between India and Pakistan (for regional dyads).

The study applies time-lag regression and historical analysis to design an explanatory sequential mixed-method research to test the hypotheses. The study also responds to reflexivist interventions and claims that arms race modelling has a utility in a post-Cold War world provided their mathematical formulation is not taken on their face values. A mixed-method approach towards arms race modelling is a better alternative for solving real world challenges to armament control.

Methodology: Explanatory Sequential Mixed-Methods Design (Historical Analysis as Qualitative Method, Time-Lag Regression as Quantitative Method)

Credential: Dissertation for MA (International Relations) at South Asian University.

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