The primary element of militarism is the belief that a country needs to maintain a strong military in order to secure and advance its own interests. Militarism also requires the development of a professional military class whose interests dominate the policies of the government. Very often, militaristic sentiment is used to advance ideals of imperialism and expansionism; by possessing a strong military, countries are able to increase their territorial holdings and create colonies throughout the world. Nearly every modern nation embodied the principles of militarism at some point in their history, with the most notable examples being the Soviet Union, Japan, the empires of Germany, France, and Great Britain, and the United States.
Militarism can also be seen as a constant state of readiness for conflict; countries that display the elements of militarism maintain standing armies and navies, and have permanent conscription policies that ensure them a constant supply of civilian soldiers. While the bulk of the armed forces is meant to be comprised of individuals who voluntarily enlist, the presence of the draft ensures these ranks are consistently fully equipped. This defensive position can have a number of unintended consequences, including the formation of alliances among one’s own supporters as well as among one’s enemies; it can also promote a sense of nationalism in opposing countries as a means of protecting themselves. Ultimately, militarism ensures the immediate safety and security of a given country, though the long-term implications of this political, social, and economic policy can be vast.