Although it has one of the world's most liberal and non-militaristic societies, Sweden is also, paradoxically, one of its most highly militarised. Both universal compulsory military service and a high level of defence spending are generally accepted and although almost uniquely formidable for a country of its size, its Armed Forces, which include an Air Force which in the early 1950s was the world's fourth largest, are however only part of Sweden's Total Defence which aims at making any military adventure against Sweden more costly than any perceived advantage which it can achieve. Every relevant human and material resource is harnessed to the ability of the country to defend itself by all legitimate means which are permitted under International Law.
Every citizen is aware of the importance of the total defence system, perceives his or her place within it and is given every opportunity to contribute individually and collectively towards it. Sweden's Total Defence philosophy, and its implementation, remain unique. Whilst its full development covers only the last third of the period in question, its vindication is that, in one form or another, it has provided the countrywith over 180 years of uninterrupted peace. As such, it has given new meaning to the Latin maxim, "Si vis pacem, para bellum -if you desire peace prepare for war".