Monday, April 28, 2008

Warsocialist Proliferation

With much less fanfare than the early days of the Cold War, the world is entering a new arms race, and with it, a dangerous new web of military relationships. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, which tracks international armed forces spending, between 1997 and 2006 global military expenditures jumped by nearly 40 percent. Driven mainly by anxiety over oil and natural resources, countries are building their arsenals of conventional weapons at a rate not seen in decades, beefing up their armies and navies, and forging potential new alliances that could divide up the world in unpredictable ways.

Much of this new arms spending is concentrated among the world's biggest consumers of resources, which are trying to protect their access to energy, and the biggest producers of resources, which are taking advantage of their new wealth to build up their defenses at a rate that would have been unthinkable for a developing country until recently.

This power shift comes with enormous implications for the United States and its Western allies. With more military power in the hands of authoritarian and sometimes unstable states, the arms race creates a growing possibility for real state-to-state conflict - a prospect that would dwarf even a major terror attack in its power to disrupt the world's stability. It also will force the West to change, to make its own plans to shore up resources, and to get used to a world arsenal it can no longer dominate.

Rearming the world - Why nations are suddenly locked in an arms race unseen since the early days of the Cold War.