Military Competition in Perspective: Trends in Major Powers’ Postures and Perceptions

December 4th 2019 - 13:00

New report out now! To read, click here

As Russian and Chinese defense expenditures pivot towards the acquisition of more sophisticated weapons systems, can Europe keep up on innovation? Hugo van Manen and Tim Sweijs present the latest report on Interstate Military Competition. 

As geopolitical rivalry is regaining prominence and technology is advancing, states are more actively engaging in interstate military competition (IMC). This is evident in activities such as the ramping up of military investments in dual-use AI technologies and the growing militarization of space. Even though instances of direct military confrontation remain limited, internationalized intrastate conflicts have grown in both their prevalence and intensity. The adversity fostered by these dynamics, combined with the proliferation of new technologies, is placing considerable stress on the international order. This can clearly be seen in, for example, the erosion of existing arms control regimes, as well as in states’ use of proxy actors to circumvent regulations. This results in a significant increase in the threat posed by IMC to the Netherlands. In concrete terms, this threat may manifest in an increased chance of armed conflict on NATO’s territory. The threat level is further raised by the fact that IMC increasingly manifest itself in non-traditional forms, which are associated with a host of negative externalities and effects for economic security and societal cohesion.

The Global Security Pulse (GSP) on IMC was published in February 2019. This research report examines the underlying quantitative and qualitative evidence presented in the GSP’s two trend tables. It covers trends in interstate military competition and international regime developments over the past ten years. It builds on the previously published Strategic Monitor Report (2018-2019) and updates its empirical analysis of contemporary trends in IMC. It does so by gauging states’ intention and capacity to engage in such competition, and their actual activity in this realm. This report continues with an analysis of trends within the international order through an assessment of five interstate military competition-related norms and rules.

Read the report here

Disclaimer: The research for and production of this report has been conducted within the PROGRESS research framework agreement. Responsibility for the contents and for the opinions expressed, rests solely with the authors and does not constitute, nor should it be construed as, an endorsement by the Netherlands Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Defense.

Hugo van Manen holds a Master’s degree (MSc) in International Public Management and Policy from the Erasmus University in Rotterdam and a Bachelor’s degree in International Studies from Leiden University. Prior to joining HCSS, Hugo worked as a consultant at Ecorys, where he was involved in several EU-commissioned projects within the field of civil protection, including the International Forum to Advance First Responder Innovation, DRIVER+, and DG ECHO’s peer review program.
Dr. Tim Sweijs is the Director of Research at The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies. He is the initiator, creator and author of numerous studies, methodologies, and tools for horizon scanning, early warning, conflict analysis, national security risk assessment, and strategy and capability development. Tim has lectured at universities and military academies around the world. His main research interest concerns the changing character of contemporary conflict. Tim is a Senior Research Fellow at the Netherlands Defence Academy and an Affiliate at the Center for International Strategy, Technology and Policy in the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs at the Georgia Institute of Technology.