Militarism is a policy or doctrine, or a system of power relationships that values war and accords primacy in state and society to the armed forces. It exalts the application of violence and the authoritarian structure of the military establishment. Militarism ceases to be simply an attitude when actions such as threats by the military or their regimes are made. Military coups d'etat, juntas and the like may impose martial law or illegally suspend civil liberties. Militarism in tribal society takes the form of warrior prowess and hero worship. In more sophisticated society it may take the form of military government or effective military control or the encouragement to spend lavishly on defence or to engage in war.
Militarism is a rapidly growing factor in the complex network of social, political and economic causes of ill health among the world's poor. Wars, such as that in the Gulf, stimulate demand for expensive high-technology weaponry that tends to worsen developing country debt and the cycle of poverty.
Military expertise may be inadequately represented in the foreign policy process, since threats or actions of force may sometimes be required, if only to indicate defensive capabilities.