ABSTRACT

The acquisition and use of military power are perhaps the most studied subjects in the field of international relations, mainly because they have been common occurrences throughout history. It is surprising, then, that the concepts of militar­ ism and militarization are not sufficiently well defined to command a consensus among scholars as to their meaning, let alone their causes and consequences. And as other chapters in this volume clearly document, militarism and militari­ zation are concepts that are relevant to social relations in realms other than formal inter­ state relations, which has made conceptual clarity that much more difficult to achieve. But my focus in this chapter is indeed inter­ state relations, with special attention to the impact of the global arms trade on the militarization of developing states and on those states’ use of military force – behaviour that may, in some cases, derive from state policies fairly described as outgrowths of militarism. The notion that states acquire military capabilities, which are then employed in hostilities against other states, or against non­ state actors who are perceived to threaten governments from within state borders, is a straightforward and rela­ tively uncontroversial rendition of the connection between militarization and militarism. But examining the role of the global arms trade as a contributing factor in both invites further consideration of relevant social forces operating at the international level. The Cold War, in particular, provided a social context within which major powers formulated their arms supply policies and other states, many of them newly independent, availed themselves of opportunities to build and maintain military capability. Arms­ transfer relationships, then, can be viewed as a mechanism by which states acquire, in addition to military capabil­ ity, prevailing conceptions of statehood and national security. This chapter has three main parts. In the next section, I differentiate the con­ cepts of militarization and militarism. There is no scholarly consensus on the definitional issues addressed in this section, but it is necessary for my purposes to try to draw a careful distinction before moving on to consider how the con­ cepts ought to be interpreted in relation to the global arms trade. Next is a dis­ cussion of the value that developing states attach to capital­ intensive military postures and the role of arms­ transfer relationships in shaping state preferences in this regard. In the last section, I turn to the arms trade as a factor in the

diffusion of militarism and draw attention to some pertinent findings reported in the empirical literature on effects of arms transfers on military hostility between and within states. I conclude with some speculative comments on the post­ Cold War restructuring of the global arms trade and the implications for militarization and militarism in the contemporary era.