What was the most significant cause of the Arms Race?
The Arms Race was inevitable in the Cold War as it was a period without violence however it had the momentum and competitiveness of any other war. Nevertheless, the cause of the Arms Race is almost impossible to isolate. Many factors such as the growth of international tension, personal & national considerations on both sides as well as domestic factors all contributed to the cause of the race. Arguable, the obvious triggering factor for the Arms race was the growth in tension between the East and West and personal & national considerations being the most significant cause.
During the late 1940’s, tension between the Eastern and Western superpowers was rapidly increasing. There was a long series of events adding to the already high tensions between the USA and USSR. A point of extreme tension during the Cold War, took place in 1948. The Soviet Berlin Blockade, the first major crisis of the war, dramatically increased tension between the rivals as it highlighted failure to answer the ‘German question’ in the 1945 conferences. This tension grew in 1949 as China fell to communism. In the eyes of the West, this was evidence to support their ‘domino theory’ and began to fear a growth in the communist sphere of influence. This tension was furthered in 1949 when the soviets developed the first atomic bomb. As well as causing tension between the countries, this directly threatened America’s prestige and status. Following this, the Korean war of 1950 was an explicit embodiment of the strong tensions between America and the Soviet Union. By the early 1950’s tension between the East an West was at a peak. Both sides craved success and were willing to compete with each other in any form possible in order to avoid violence. This was the triggering cause of the Arms Race.