To send content items to your account,
please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies.
If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account.
Find out more about sending content to .
To send content items to your Kindle, first ensure firstname.lastname@example.org
is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings
on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part
of your Kindle email address below.
Find out more about sending to your Kindle.
Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations.
‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi.
‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.
The evolution of second-tier arms production and transfers
Matters become more complex as one surveys the policy and practice of second-tier arms producers and suppliers. The first difficulty is specifying which states are in the second tier. If membership is determined by production endowments and technological capabilities, tables 9 and 10 confirm that there is a qualitative gap between the production levels and research and development capabilities of the first-tier states and those of the next largest producers or exporters. At the lower end, however, another qualitative break is somewhat harder to distinguish. One task of this chapter will be to delineate with more precision how production capabilities help determine which states are second-tier producers. A second will be to distinguish the different policy stances adopted by these producers towards arms exports. Although the export and production practice of the leading second-tier states (France and Britain) is relatively straightforward, other states in this tier occupy somewhat ambiguous positions vis-à-vis the central dilemma posed by their status in the global arms transfer and production system: how to produce weapons at a sufficiently high level of sophistication to ensure national independence and global status without placing too great an economic burden on the state.
The French experience is the starting point for analysis, primarily because French policy and practice establish the paradigm case to which other second-tier producers conform to a lesser degree.
To understand the evolutionary dynamic of the global arms transfer and production system, one must first untangle the forces that generate the demand for the production and trade in weapons and second, explain the way in which this demand may change over time. Thus this chapter will begin by expanding upon the motive forces briefly outlined in the introduction – the pursuit of wealth, power and victory in war – to sketch the way in which these may shape the emergence and evolution of the global arms transfer and production system. The second section will focus on the processes of technological innovation and diffusion in the arms transfer system. The final section will outline the structure of the arms transfer system this analysis suggests. This chapter thus both presents the argument in skeletal form to be measured against the evidence to follow and provides some organising principles for that evidence.
Two important difficulties with this approach should be acknowledged at the outset: a wide gulf separates the scholarship that concentrates on different sets of forces identified here as fundamental, and there is no consensus on the process of change in the international system on which one could easily erect an analysis of the evolution of arms transfers and production.
Third-tier states are fundamentally motivated to produce arms by a desire to escape or ameliorate their subordinate position in the global arms transfer and production system. Although they are not completely powerless, the scale of the effort they can mount and their status as late entrants in the market condemns most of them to be frustrated in this quest. An examination of the evolution of third-tier arms production and exports through the contemporary period confirms both the imperfections in the process of technological diffusion and the evolutionary pattern of the global arms transfer and production system that was sketched in chapter 1. Third-tier producers can be identified by one of three criteria:
(a) they can only produce weapons at a level of sophistication far below the existing technological frontier.
(b) the sophisticated weapons that they can produce are restricted to only one or two weapons systems.
(c) they remain dependent upon imports of critical sophisticated subsystems, and little or no transfer of the knowledge required to go beyond the simple reproduction or copying of weapons occurs.
Although for the moment all arms-producing states in the developing world will be treated as members of the third tier, these criteria will allow a more subtle and dynamic picture to be drawn eventually that would allow for some (albeit rare) movement between tiers and that could elevate the potential status of some producers in the developing world.
Any publication using arms transfer data ought to acknowledge the severe, and possibly crippling, shortcomings of such data. Several specific and general problems can be highlighted which make conclusions based on statistical manipulation of the data extremely tentative. This appendix merely sketches the problems; readers are encouraged to consult the more detailed studies noted throughout.
There are four main sources of arms transfer information: The United States Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA) annual publication World Military Expenditures and Arms Transfers; the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute Yearbook of World Armaments and Disarmament (and related publications using the same data base); the International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS) annual The Military Balance; and other (usually country-specific) studies. The ACDA data have been relied upon most in this book, because they possess three advantages other sources do not: they include all suppliers and recipients, they attempt to capture all transfers (not just major weapons systems), and they present at least roughly comparable dollar figures for arms deliveries. SIPRI data, on the other hand, include only deliveries of major weapons systems (aircraft, armour and artillery, guidance and radar systems, missiles and warships), and they also detail major identified arms agreements in their comprehensive data base of arms transfers since 1950.
The first wave of the arms transfer and production system, which had been triggered by the introduction of the revolutionary military technologies of gunpowder, cannon and firearms in the early fifteenth century, played itself out through the imperfect process of technological diffusion in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The period that followed, from roughly the late seventeenth to the early nineteenth century, was, by contrast, relatively quiescent. The high degree of state control of arms production and exports (directly or via licensing) had the effect, as the English case demonstrated, of keeping production at or near the level needed to supply domestic needs only; thus the pace of technological change was almost consciously slowed. The weapons themselves continued to spread, diffused by empire builders and traders, but the diffusion of the techniques to produce and utilise them properly was much slower. No new centres of production arose, and the structure of the system that had manifest itself by the late 1600s was not fundamentally altered.
The most important reason for the stability of the international arms transfer system between 1650 and 1850 was the relatively slow pace of technological change compared to the preceding and following periods.
The global arms transfer and production system involves more than just the producers of arms: it enmeshes all major and most minor states as patrons or clients in a complex web of military relationships that includes not only weapons, but arms production technology, spare parts and supplies for weapons, and military training assistance. Chapters 2 and 3 noted how the subordinate status of recipient states in the arms transfer system was confirmed by their dependence upon external arms supplies and, occasionally, by their inability even to adopt the military and political organisation required to operate modern weapons; this chapter will examine contemporary arms recipients in the same light. Although almost all states, including the largest producers, are also arms recipients, the discussion will concentrate on those recipients who either do not produce arms or straddle the line between recipient and third-tier status.
A full discussion of the role of arms recipients in the contemporary arms transfer system would require a separate book. The issues it would raise include the relationship between arms acquisitions and the quest for security (both interstate and internal), the link between spending on weapons and economic development, and the use of arms transfer and military aid relationships as a tool of influence by arms producers.