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Militarism is the belief or desire of a government or people that a country should maintain a strong military capability and be prepared to use it aggressively to defend or promote national interests. It has also been defined as "aggressiveness that involves the threat of using military force", and the Glorification of the ideas of a professional military class" and "Predominance of the armed forces in the administration or policy of the state

Militarism has been a significant principle in the imperialist or expansionist ideologies of several nations throughout history. Some prominent examples are the Greek city state of Spartamarker, the Roman Empire, the Aztec nation, the Kingdom of Prussiamarker, the British Empire, the Empire of Japanmarker, the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (which would later become part of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republicsmarker), the Italian Colonial Empire during the reign of Benito Mussolini, Nazi Germany, and Iraqmarker during the reign of Saddam Hussein. Also, militarism played a great part at the beginning of the First World War, this happened because Britain's Technology was much better than Germany's and Britain launched a warship in the 1900s called the 'Dreadnought'. Six years later, Germany launched a warship called the 'Panther' which led to a Naval Arms Race a few months after.

By nation


The roots of German militarism can be found in the years past of Prussia during the nineteenth century, and the subsequent unification of Germanymarker under Prussian leadership. After Napoleon conquered Prussia, early in the nineteenth century, one of the conditions of peace was that Prussia should reduce her army to no more than forty-two thousand men. In order that the country should not again be so easily conquered, the king of Prussia enrolled the permitted number of men for one year, then dismissed that group, and enrolled another of the same size, and so on. Thus, in the course of ten years, it would be possible for him to gather an army of four hundred thousand men who had had at least one year of military training. The officers of the army were drawn almost entirely from among the land-owning nobility. The result was that there was gradually built up a large class of professional officers on the one hand, and, on the other, a much larger class, the rank and file of the army. These enlisted men had become conditioned to obey implicitly all the commands of the officers, creating a class-based culture of deference.

This system led to several consequences. Since the officer class also furnished most of the officials for the civil administration of the country, the interests of the army came to be considered the same as the interests of the country as a whole. A second result was that the governing class desired to continue a system which gave them so much power over the common people, contributing to the continuing influence of the Junker noble classes.

Militarism in Germany continued after World War I and the fall of the German monarchy. During the period of the Weimar Republicmarker (1919-1933), the Kapp Putsch, an attempted coup against the republican government, was launched by disaffected members of the armed forces. After this, some of the more radical militarists and nationalists were subsumed into the Nazi Party, while more moderate elements of militarism declined. Nazi Germany was a strongly militarist state; after its fall in 1945, militarism in German culture was dramatically reduced, as a backlash against the Nazi period.

The Federal Republic of Germanymarker today maintains a large, modern military and has one of the highest defence budgets in the world. Contemporary opinions vary but Germans predominantly oppose unilateral military actions and are suspicious of all claims advocating them.


In parallel with 20th century Germany's militarism, Japanese militarism began with a series of events by which the military gained prominence in dictating Japan's affairs. This was evident in 15th century Japan's Sengoku Period or Age of Warring States where powerful samurai warlords or shogun played a significant role in Japanese politics. Japan's militarism is deeply rooted in the ancient samurai tradition, centuries before Japan's modernization.

Even though a militarist philosophy was intrinsic to the shogunates, a nationalist style of militarism came in under the Meiji Restoration. It is exemplified by the 1882 Imperial Rescript to Soldiers and Sailors. Still, there was a distinct change, roughly in the 1920s, from two main factors. One was the Cabinet Law that required the Army and Navy to name serving officers as Army and Navy Minister before a cabinet could be formed, essentially giving the military a veto over any cabinet in the ostensibly parliamentary country. Another factor was gekokujo, or institutionalized disobedience by junior officers. It was not uncommon for radical junior officers to press for their goals, to the extent of assassinating seniors.

Centuries of civil wars have brought about rigid military rule and secured a place for the military in government affairs only to last until Japan's unconditional surrender in World War II after the United States brought about democracy to the once militaristic state. With this dictatorial power, Japanmarker invaded the Republic of Chinamarker in 1931 and overtook eastern region of China within 11 years, and finally spread World War II to the Pacificmarker with their attack on Pearl Harbormarker.

United States

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries political and military leaders reformed the US federal government to establish a stronger central government than had ever previously existed for the purpose of enabling the nation to pursue an imperial policy in the Pacific and in the Caribbean and economic militarism to support the development of the new industrial economy. This reform was the result of a conflict between Neo-Hamiltonian Republicans and Jeffersonian-Jacksonian advocates over the proper administration of the state and direction of its foreign policy. The conflict pitted proponents of professionalism, based on business management principles, against proponents favoring more local control in the hands of laymen and political appointees.

After the end of the American Civil War the national army fell into disrepair. Reforms based on various European states including Imperial Britain, Imperial Germany, and Switzerland were made so that it would become responsive to control from the central government, prepared for future conflicts, and develop refined command and support structures; it led to the development of professional military thinkers and cadre.

During this time the intellectual ideas of Social Darwinism propelled the development of an American Empire in the Pacific and Caribbean. This required modifications for a more efficient central government due to the added administration requirements.

The enlargement of the US army for the Spanish-American War was considered essential to the occupation and control of the new territories acquired from Spain in its defeat (Guammarker, the Philippinesmarker, Puerto Rico, and Cubamarker). The previous limit by legislation of 24 000 men was expanded to 60 000 regulars in the new army bill on 2 February 1901, with allowance at that time for expansion to 80 000 regulars by presidential discretion at times of national emergency.

Again, US forces were enlarged immensely for World War I. Officers such as George S. Patton were permanent captains at the start of the war and received temporary promotions to colonel.

Between the first and second world wars, the US Marine Corps engaged in questionable activities in the Banana Wars in Latin America. Retired Major General Smedley Butler, at the time of his death the most decorated Marine, spoke strongly against a trend to what he considered trends toward fascism and militarism. The Latin American expeditions ended with Franklin D. Roosevelt's Good Neighbor Policy of 1934.

Butler briefed Congress on what he described as a business plot for a military coup, for which he had been suggested as leader; the matter was partially corroborated, but the real threat has been disputed. There is little evidence that any serious military coups were planned in the US. During the American Civil War those officers who were sympathetic to the Confederacy resigned their commissions rather than mutiny.

After World War II, there were major cutbacks, such that units responding early in the Korean War, under United Nations authority (e.g., Task Force Smith) were unprepared, and resulting in catastrophic performance. It should be noted that when Harry S. Truman fired Douglas MacArthur, the tradition of civilian control held and MacArthur left without any hint of military coup.

Serious permanent buildups were a result of the Cold War. Dwight D. Eisenhower, a retired top military commander elected as a civilian President, warned of the development of a military-industrial complex, more complex than many traditional ideas of militarism. In the Cold War, there emerged many civilian academics and industrial researchers, such as Henry Kissinger and Herman Kahn, that had significant input into the use of military force.

It has been argued that the United States has shifted to a state of neomilitarism since the end of the Vietnam War. This form of militarism is distinguished by the reliance on a relatively small number of volunteer fighters; heavy reliance on complex technologies; and the rationalization and expansion of government advertising and recruitment programs designed to promote military service.

The Military budget of the United States for 2008 was $740,800,000,000. [29065]


Rise of militarism in Indiamarker dates back to the British Raj with the rise of several Indian independence movement armed organizations such as Indian National Army (INA) led by Subhash Chandra Bose. The INA played a crucial role on pressuring the British Raj after it occupied Andaman and Nicobar Islandsmarker with the help of Imperial Japanmarker but the movement lost momentum due to lack of support by Indian National Congress, INA's dramatic defeat during Battle of Imphal and Bose's sudden death.

After India gained independence in 1947, tensions with neighboring Pakistan over Kashmir dispute also led to rise militarism in India which also saw a boost during the various events that led to the political integration of India. After the Sino-Indian War in 1962, India dramatically expanded its military prowess which helped India emerge victorious during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971. The rise of Kashmiri insurgency and recent events such as the Kargil War assured that the Indian government remained committed to military expansion.


Israel's many security difficulties since the establishment of the State have led to a prominence of security in politics and civil society, resulting in many of Israel's top politician being former high ranking military officials (partial list: Yitzhak Rabin, Ariel Sharon, Ezer Weizman, Ehud Barak, Shaul Mofaz, Moshe Dayan, Yitzhak Mordechai, Amram Mitzna).

The military culture of the Israel Defence Forces has been affected greatly by the civilian culture. Israeli culture is much less formal and regimented than most and this has spilled over into the military, especially since the vast majority of the officers and soldiers are reservists who bring their civilian background and behavioural norms into the army when they are mobilized (an example is the minimum of formality between separate ranks - commanders often being called by name rather than by rank by their subordinates, very little saluting except in ceremonies and such-like). Also the army has been entrusted with many civilian missions (social work, providing teachers in areas where they are lacking and so on), and this too has had its effect on the way army career personnel view the role of the army and their commitment to civilian society and norms.(see [29066])


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  2. Online dictionary
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