A security delema is a paradoxical problem in international politics typically arising from the existence of two powerful realist states. Realists believe in using or displaying force in order to ensure their security, but another realist state may see a buildup of force as a security threat and raise its own force capabilities. This then causes the first power to raise its force capabilities yet again and a vicious circle of competitive power accumulation can occur. A real world example of a security delema is the arms race between the United States of America and the Soviet Union during the Cold War.
- Bruce Russett, Harvey Starr and David Kinsella. World Politics: The Menu for Choice. 2006