How did militarism in Italy and Japan cause the Second World War?

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Militarism is often a cause of wars and it certainly did help to bring about WWII.  Militarism can be defined in two parts.  First, it is the belief that a country should have a large military and should aggressively use that military to pursue its interests.  Second, it is the...

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Militarism is often a cause of wars and it certainly did help to bring about WWII.  Militarism can be defined in two parts.  First, it is the belief that a country should have a large military and should aggressively use that military to pursue its interests.  Second, it is the belief that the military is somehow superior to civilians, which leads to the military being respected excessively and even glorified.  Militarism was clearly present in all of the Axis powers, helping to bring about WWII.

In Japan, militarism drove Japanese foreign policy.  The military dominated the government and pushed hard for foreign expansion.  For example, it was the military that forced the government to invade China, not the other way around.  It was the military that pushed for the Pearl Harbor attack.  No other institution in society had anywhere near the prestige that the military had, which made it easy for the military to get its way.  Thus, militarism drove Japan to take aggressive actions that helped cause WWII.

In Italy, militarism was part of Mussolini’s drive to make Italy great again.  He wanted to increase Italy’s military strength to make it a major power in Europe.  A major step that Mussolini took due to militarism was his invasion of Ethiopia in 1935.  This did not lead directly to WWII in the way that Japanese militarism did, but it weakened the League of Nations and emboldened Germany.  Because Italy could get away with invading weaker countries, the Nazis felt it was more likely that they could use their own military power to get what they wanted as well.

Militarism often leads to wars because militarism encourages countries to use military force to get what they want.  Germany, Japan, and Italy all did this, causing WWII to begin.

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