Although war may financially benefit a country and stimulate the economy, it has detrimental effects on politics, economics and society.
War causes the foreign policy to change. After World War II, the United States and the USSR competed against each other for superpower status. Each country wanted to have power over the other, so they both began to show off to scare the citizens of the other country by developing weapons of mass destruction. Sputnik, the first man-made satellite, opened new possibilities in the world of rockets. Also, the atomic bomb, which splits atoms to create a large radioactive explosion, can cause many causalities and damaging radioactive wastes. In addition, the United States government used multiple forms of propaganda to change public opinion about the USSR. The House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) began to investigate American citizens suspected of supporting communism, which snowballed into intense fear of communist infiltration.
The American fear of communism led the country into the Cold War, a state of constant tension and paranoia. The U.S. became involved in the Korean War from 1950-1953 to keep communism from spreading. The war went badly, making America look bad in the eyes of other countries and in the eyes of Americans as well. The U.S. government under Joe McCarthy's HUAC and J. Edgar Hoover's FBI caused a rise of hysteria over the possibility of infiltration of the U.S. government. In 1950, as McCarthyism took over the country, the Legislature passed the McCarran Act, also known as the Internal Securities Act, which furthered paranoia about the possibility of communist infiltration in the U.S. It was under this act that the Rosenbergs were convicted and sentenced to death for relaying information with communists.
Not only did WWII fail to solve foreign relations problems, it also created more political upheaval.
It costs money to care for the soldiers that were wounded in battle, such as hospitals overseas, treatment in the U.S. after the war, and rehabilitation from the soldiers' wounds or lost limbs. It also costs money to make weapons, feed the soldiers and supply ammunition. World War II cost the U.S. $288 billion; in today's dollars, it would cost $3.6 trillion. Weapons still cost money no matter what time period.
The soldiers' status changes, so many of them come back to poverty and have no jobs. The jobs they had before the war have been taken by others in society. Soldiers' inability to work because of physical or emotional disability hurts the economy because the soldiers may seek extra benefits and Social Security. Their lack of productivity and joblessness is also a contributing factor to the economy and puts pressure on relatives to support them.
As if political and economic issues were not bad enough, social issues were worse.
Soldiers come back from the war with mental disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder. In today's war, the Gulf War, many soldiers are coming back with PTSD or other mental illnesses. Marriages and family relationships are strained due to stress and anxiety, guilt, grief and other emotions that have not been addressed by the military or by society when they return. War can wipe out a generation of men and cause a slight dip in the birth rates. Over 60 million people died in World War II. Women end up raising children on their own because their husbands died in the war. The anxiety, guilt, grief and other emotions disrupts families and changes social patterns.
Overall, I think that war hurts the well-being of the citizens by disrupting the social, economic and political patterns. All wars have similar damages. They cost money to make weapons, send soldiers to the front and supply them with food and ammunition. Many soldiers come back wounded or not at all, causing turmoil in the society. Wars also force political leaders to make hasty and poor decisions that can result in deaths of many more men. Although war has had benefits, like boosting the U.S. out of the Great Depression, the cons outweigh the pros.
Nikolai Hanson is a Beaverton resident and student.