The World’s Most Avoidable Expenditure – By 1945, the expenditure of the following major World powers on a single goal inclusive of the six prior years preceding that year were, U.S $341 billion, Germany $272 billion, The Soviet Union $192 billion, Britain $120 billion, Italy $94 billion and Japan $56 billion.
You would be forgiven for believing these were spent on boosting human capital or infrastructural development, but I am sorry to disappoint you as it was washed to even decimate those in rival countries. These were the expenditures of these respective countries in prosecuting World War II.
In the aspect of sheer brutality, World War II fatality statistics vary, with estimates of total deaths ranging from 50 million to more than 80 million. The higher figure of over 80 million includes deaths from war related disease and famine. Civilians killed totaled 19-28 million from war related disease and famine.
It was spectacularly costly on the financial side because more than $1 trillion was washed down the drain in financing the war minus the billions in post war reparations paged out for decades by then axis powers such as Germany, Japan and Italy etc. To the U.S and her allies, some of which have still not been fully paid.
But most astonishingly, it was all avoidable as by July 24, 1928 war in itself had become an illegal undertaking by any country.
Colloquially referred to as the Law against War, the Kellogg-Briand Pact (or Pact of Paris), officially, “The General Instrument for the Renunciation of War as an Instrument of National Policy” was signed into law, sponsored by the U.S and France, with the other listed powers as original signatories, it became effective since 1929.
In the detail, signatory states promised not to use war to resolve “disputes or conflicts of whatever nature or of whatever origin they may be, which may arise among them”.
Though this remains legally binding on all signatory countries with clear provisions for possible sanctions on potential defaulting countries, it has been rendered completely toothless due to a failure of implementation and certain reluctance in certain quarters to promote its awareness.
By neglecting it, we have now spent trillions of dollars on the Cold War, Civil Wars, the War against terror including biological, nuclear and chemical weapons etc.
As we prepare to mark the 90 anniversary of the laws existence and the 89th anniversary of its effective use, it is important we remember that war and expenditure that accompanies it is very avoidable and even illegal as such vast resources will be an incredible help if spent on human and physical development globally.
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