Starting a war comes at a great cost. This is a globally known fact, especially considering that one of the only consistencies throughout human history is perhaps that conflict, in some form, in any given country, is always present.
The greatest cost of war is the human loss, and it should not be – cannot be – overshadowed by a loss to industry. That being said, the loss of industry is a relevant factor and heartbreakingly usually becomes apparent after the dust has settled, a horrific and lasting reminder of conflict for those who have survived.
Internal conflicts in Syria and Libya have caused excessive amounts of infrastructure damage through destructive protesting, and the strongly armed militant response from the government forces. Housing and infrastructure have been major targets for both armed forces and protestors to show their resistance, and response. Not only is the loss of life great, these countries traditionally have weak construction and planning models, putting even more economic pressure on the reconstruction of these already heavily damaged areas.
The economic loss of war is extreme. The cost of the Iraq war to the US has been estimated at a current $3.7 trillion dollars, a war which has killed 73 people for every single person killed in the catalyst event, the September 11th World Trade Centre attacks. This multi-trillion dollar loss has not only drained the US economy, with cities like Detroit reduced to wasteland areas full of dilapidated infrastructure and crumbling housing, but has caused even more damage to the economy of Iraq, which now has a completely collapsed industry. For the most part, reconstruction efforts are ongoing and real estimates are not even viable.
However, it is important to know that while the US/Iraq conflict is an important and shocking example, it is not to be solely targeted, as it is not the only example of war leading to industry waste.
World War I saw vastly more civilians killed than soldiers. With many countries involved seeing previously unfathomable amounts of damage to infrastructure, and huge economic costs. Coupled with an industrial infrastructure loss of 70% across Europe, the consequences of the war played a large part in the outbreak of World War II and the even greater loss of life and infrastructure that most terrible of conflicts brought with it.
Have we not learnt from this? The loss of infrastructure and industry post-war makes it even harder for countries to get back on their feet. Devastation does not mean industry loss. Resilience planning, construction and design have shown us this, often transforming redeveloped areas for the better.
The infrastructure damage of war coupled with the economic losses, however, does.
That is not to suggest that war torn countries are doomed. History has seen huge post-war growth through countries like the UK, Japan and Germany; and when managed effectively can often offer an economic injection through reconstruction stimulus. Though surely we would all be better served by never taking up the gamble of war in the first place.
By Emily D’Alterio