Militarism is considered as one of the long-term influences of World War I. Militarism can be fully perceived as the buildup or expansion of the capacity of a country’s military to fight a war.
In broad terms, militarism demonstrated the rivalry that occurred between the nations of Europe in the years for the uprising of World War I. Furthermore, it is a concept that formed the tremendous forces that facilitated the European nations to wage war in 1914. The vast armies promoted the easy beginning of the war and such devastating outcomes.
Militarism is the political philosophy when a country aggressively seeks a strong military arrangement in order to defend itself or broaden the territory towards national interests.
Prior to World War I, militarism resulted in the arms race between countries that applied industrial resources for the mass production of the latest military technology, including breech-loading rifles, artillery, and machine guns. It is also a concept of the troops and ideas that are integrated into a civilian government, as well as the belief that military strength is fundamental to national power.
Therefore, many European countries used to implement the militarism approach and aimed at expanding and strengthening their military forces long before World War I. For instance, an intense arms race and naval race between several European nations emerged in the growth to World War I.
Thus, France and Germany were actively engaged in an arms race, which resulted in the significant enforcement of each of the countries’ armies between 1870 and 1914. Such the advancement of the military forces was primarily caused by the history of war against one another, as well as the countries’ conflict.
At the commencement of the military action in 1914, France had over 1 million soldiers, while Germany had over 2 million. This arms race displayed the distrust between the European nations, which eased the beginning of the war in 1914 for these countries.
Besides the arms race, a competitive naval race took place between Britain and Germany in the years that lead to World War I. During that time, the British navy remained the most extensive in the world that was essential for sustaining its vast colonial empire.
Hence, Britain served as the potential threat to Germany that pursued developing its navy to comply with the British one and challenge its ships in the North Sea, which was the only coastal access for Germany. In addition, the British dreadnought in 1906 emerged as the first battleship in the 20th century.
It was significant for obtaining larger caliber guns and for being faster on open water. Germany, in turn, designed its own version of the battleship and aimed at challenging the British military power. Consequently, by the beginning of World War I in 1914, Britain had 29 dreadnoughts, and Germany had 17.
With that said, such a policy of militarism led to the environment where war was most likely to emerge, excluding any opportunity for diplomacy and negotiations. Along with militarism, nationalism and imperialism were also crucial elements that complemented each other and resulted in the First World War.
The military power in the 19th and early 20th centuries was a measure of national and imperial strength. It was focused on addressing the qualities and future of the mighty nation and protect its interests within a country and trade interests abroad. To sum up, militarism and its strategy varied in different countries but was a critical political and cultural force.