Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Casualties Of War

[In looking at the Great War] The experts seemed to have forgotten that among the first casualties of war is not only truth but also sound finance. None of the big wars of the previous century - for example, the Napoleonic Wars or the American Civil War - had been held back by a mere lack of gold. These had been fights to the death in which the belligerents had been willing to resort to everything and anything - taxes, borrowing, the printing of ever large quantities of money - to raise the cash to pay for the war.
Liaquat Ahamed, The Lords of Finance: The Bankers Who Broke the World, (New York: Penguin Books, 2009), 75.
The Great War (World War I) would impact the world economy like no other war before it. As a result of the war, the United States became the premier economic superpower in the world. However, they did so at the expense of the economies of Europe. As a result, the economies of Europe would face the 1920s trying desperately to dig themselves out of the massive holes they created by fighting a costly war (in terms of both human sacrifice & sound financial sacrifice). Eventually the instability in Europe and poor financial decision making would cripple the entire world. No one was spared from the disaster that we now call the Great Depression.

What's interesting in it all, is how war completely destroys a nation's ability to think clearly. Men and women become mere statistical data to be used and sacrificed at the will of a leader. Sound financial thinking gets tossed out the window as money is poured into an effort that may or may not even accomplish the intended purposes of the conflict. Strife is stirred up & sewn on the hearts of yet another generation. And in the end, no matter how much you inflict damage on the opponent, their mindset never truly changes. As a result, the aftermath of war is a field of destruction touching every aspect of a country.

The sad reality is that a study of history conclusively shows that choosing war over rational & peaceful diplomacy is always the most brutal & horrific choice. But as we continue to see all over the globe, leaders and bands of people refused to acknowledge this. Truth, sound finance, and life continue to be the commodities we are willing to sacrifice on the altar of being right & inflicting our opinion on our opponent.