The Tragic Results of War
War has been one of the greatest scourges of mankind. Almost everyone hates war, but almost no one has been able to avoid its terrible effects.
How terrible is war? Does anyone really know? Can anyone put into words the untold suffering and misery that it brings to so many millions of people?
The terrible toll of war is not just in the casualty lists. It causes a tremendous increase in unhappiness, in broken homes, in mental suffering and juvenile delinquency. These are the things that are often overlooked when the cost of war is calculated. In this chapter we are going to learn more about these horrible consequences.
History proves that wars have not brought peace. Therefore, it is utterly stupid to think that anything we might do toward man’s effort in war will help mankind in any way. Our participation in war will not bring the peace we want. It will only bring more suffering and misery.
Firestorms Nullify Effect of Shelters
Many people today are preparing for the next war by constructing a place of protection. It is useless to fight in the war, but, is it useless to build a place of protection? In the event of nuclear attack would “fallout” shelters give real protection?
During World War II, the City of Hamburg, Germany, was well prepared for attack. It had adequate shelters. When the attacks came against this “prepared” city, the results were terrible beyond imagination. The destruction that resulted is the subject of a book, The Night Hamburg Died, by Martin Caidin. Because of the intensive bombing, the temperature at ground level was estimated to have reached 1400 degrees. Human bodies exploded into puffs of flame. The tremendous heat generated by the fires consumed the atmosphere near the ground. And this was not nuclear war, which is far more devastating.
To replace the oxygen and the atmosphere of the burning city, the air for miles around was sucked into the city.
The result of this intense conflagration was a FIRE STORM. Few realize the terrible effects of such a storm. Flames shot up as high as 15,000 feet and the smoke rose to 40,000 feet. The tremendous heat generated winds of greater than hurricane force, estimated at 150 miles per hour.
What protection did the people of Hamburg have in their “bombproof” shelters? Almost none! Those who did not die quickly from the direct flames, died from heat, suffocation, and the lack of oxygen. From atomic weapons which are far more destructive there will be no place to hide.
War is terrible beyond description, and each new major war seems to get worse.
God is our only sure Protection. Only He can offer real safety (Luke 21:36).
War Effects on Home and Family Life
The terrible results of war are not just limited to the effects on the battle field. The home is also affected. The home is the foundation of all decent society. If the homes of a nation are in trouble, the nation is in the same condition. When a member of the family is forced to go off to war, the whole family suffers. Or, when both parents work to help in the war effort, the family routine is changed. The family is no longer able to work together as a team and children are not properly supervised, trained or disciplined. Little children are permitted to run wild and to get in all kinds of mischief.
God has set unchangeable physical laws in motion concerning the home. When these laws which draw the family together are violated, trouble and unhappiness are the penalty.
In order for the home to be happy, these natural laws must be obeyed. Since war causes these laws to be broken, homes become divided, wives or husbands become enamored with other people of the opposite sex. Little children no longer have the protection, interest, and personal care of their parents. The parents become less and less interested in the home and in their own children. The children are left alone too much and begin to get into mischief. Delinquency results.
As a result of the last great war, delinquency has multiplied over and over. Young people have become more cruel and sadistic, and commit many savage acts unheard of before. They do not have a sense of right values or consideration for their elders or of other human beings. Because of promiscuity, by parents and young people alike, venereal disease has become a national problem.
Mental turmoil and tension increase by leaps and bounds. Sickness, as a result of this mental unhappiness, increases. The result is that we are not able to build hospitals fast enough and half of our hospital beds are occupied by mental patients.
As a result of this wrong way of life we had the largest number of broken homes and divorces that ever happened in this country right after World War II. It is beyond our comprehension to realize this terrible toll in our home life as a direct result of that one war.
After the home is broken up, many little children are left without mother or father to guide them in the right way. The parents remarry and there is such a mixed-up mess that many children hardly know who their real parents are. The remarried parents are now living in adultery, committing one of the ten cardinal sins. This is a terrible sin which leads to continuing trouble and unhappiness in the home. Little children who grow up in such a terrible environment do not know what a good home environment is. They do not learn the true values of marriage and faithfulness to a mate. Since they have no other personal example, they often follow in the footsteps of their parents into second and third marriages. This brings added unhappiness to their own lives. The young man in service knows that he may not live through the war. As a result he is usually not restrained and promiscuity is commonplace. The tendency is to satisfy the senses today, and not care about what will happen tomorrow. A serviceman is usually trying to be a real “he-man.” He wants to copy other men in their rebellion and promiscuity to prove his manliness. Instead of proving manliness he proves that violation of God’s righteous ways only end in sorrow and trouble.
As a result of all these unusual circumstances, the home and its protective environment are gone — there is no restraint — promiscuity is rampant — premature marriages are frequent. Untold suffering, personal anguish, and trouble are reaped for many years to come as a result of the breakup of the family home environment. All this results from war.
From this we should begin to see that the original penalty of war is not the only one.
When will our nation ever wake up to the terrible price that we are now paying for our past wars? When will we ever learn the facts regarding our suffering as a result of these wars?
War Effect on National Economy
Because of the tremendous cost of war and the preparations for war, the whole national economy suffers. There is a temporary upsurge in employment, and the people as a whole have more income, but the false economy that this creates is not good.
Someone must pay for this great expense. Taxes are increased, there are drives for war bonds, but the nation goes further and further into debt. The present generation is not going to pay the money for all the expenses. This generation is trying to lay this great burden of expense on future generations. The problem is that this attitude of leaving our obligations for future generations is going to backfire and cause this generation to pay, not in money, but in lives, epidemics and slavery.
As a result of the wars and the cost of government, the indebtedness is so tremendous that we are hardly able to comprehend it. The national debt at present is about 290 billion dollars. The combined public and private debt is now a staggering 882 billion dollars. This means that each man, woman, and child owes about $4,000 in public debt.
These astronomical figures are hard to comprehend. Since a billion dollars is usually the basis mentioned, we ought to put it in terms that can be understood. One billion dollars would take a stack of ten dollar bills 5 1/2 miles high.
Most of this cost in public debt is a direct result of war, and secondarily by indirect war cost, and thirdly, the burgeoning cost of government.
We are paying heavily for past wars right now. Even the interest on the staggering debt is almost beyond comprehension. Because of all these costs of war and national government, 35% of our total annual income goes for taxes.
The Cost of War
World War I cost the world about 338 billion dollars in direct and indirect costs. This does not include 37 billion dollars from property losses. There was also an estimated 45 billion dollar loss in production. This makes a grand total of almost one-half trillion dollars to fight just one war.
Compare this expense with the more costly World War II.
The direct and indirect costs have been calculated at a little more than ONE TRILLION dollars! In addition there were property losses of about 231 billion dollars.
How much money is one trillion dollars? Let us put it in terms we can more easily understand.
Each family in the United States could have a home worth twenty-five thousand dollars — paid for — no mortgage or other encumbrance — for the price of World War II alone.Think of everyone living in such a luxurious home. Forty-seven million homes paid for by the price of JUST ONE WAR!
That should give a little better idea of what it costs to fight just one war. It should show how man is cheating himself out of such blessings, just because he is not able to overcome his own lusts, (James 4:1-3).
This tremendous cost of trying to bring peace to the world is now 120 billion dollars per year, and experts predict that this figure is destined to double within a few years. The United States is bearing the “lions share” of this tremendous expense. The fiscal 1963 budget for the United States is almost 53 billion dollars. Compare this with the total national income of 1960 which was 417 billion dollars.
War Brings Millions of Deaths
Consider another cost of war — the terrible death toll. Deaths in war are not caused by weapons alone. Many others have died as a direct result of war by accompanying epidemics and disease.
In World War I about 10 million people were killed or died as a result of the war either directly or indirectly. TEN MILLION PEOPLE DIED FOR ONE WAR!
The wars of the preceding years only killed half as many people.
In World War II there were about 17 million battle deaths alone. In addition about another 1½ million died from air raids, many other civilians died from direct war action, and there were millions of injuries which did not lead to death.
These figures which have been taken from the Encyclopedia Americana, and the World Almanac, do not include other casualties such as injuries, servicemen lost or disappeared, nor does it include the many millions of people such as Jews who were exterminated in Germany and other countries.
These figures only concern the last two wars. The “peaceful” United States has fought no less than 101 wars from the start of the Revolutionary war in 1775, to World War II (MacArthur on War, edited by Frank C. Waldrop, page 416, Appendix C).
It is good for us to occasionally remember the terrible atrocities committed as a result of these and other wars. Remember the six million Jews who were killed in Germany during World War II?
How some of them died was brought out in the famed Adolf Eichmann trial. Here are some comments resulting from this trial.
NAZI P.O.W. CAMPS: EVERY ATROCITY IMAGINABLE
JERUSALEM, April 28, 1961 (AP) — “A survivor of a Nazi extermination camp testified today she saw Jews soaked in kerosene and set afire as they prayed, small children shot down because they wept, women tied in packs and marched for miles in subzero temperatures. . . . She told, too, of a child in a plaster cast shot on a forced march. ‘Children who cried were killed,’ she added. She described a forced march in which women were tied together in huge bundles with ropes. ‘We were beaten continually and many went out of their minds’,” (The San Diego Union, April 29, 1961).
“One woman, who was carrying a child, spat in the face of a guard and they took the infant and smashed his brains out on a tree and threw him into the fire. Then they hung the woman up by her legs” (UPI Release, May 2, 1961).
Untold millions of other atrocities have also been committed during war. They were not all on the side of the enemy. Most libraries contain many volumes about such atrocities in the time of war.
It is not the purpose of this thesis to present these atrocities in detail, but just to remind the reader of this terrible cost that is paid during war by unsuspecting and innocent people.
The Effect on Character of Servicemen
Being thrust into war from civilian life, a serviceman must be taught to hate the enemy. Otherwise he will not be an effective soldier. This does something to the mind of man that is harmful, and is not easily erased. Human life becomes cheap, especially when it involves someone you don’t know. A combat soldier learns to live with violence and death. He does not easily forget his wrong actions that were contrary to God’s spiritual laws. When you break the spiritual laws of God, they break you. There is a penalty in human misery and woe of these broken laws. The retributions of these broken laws are still being paid by the untold suffering in personalities, in broken homes, in financial ruin, in poor health, and in every other form of conceivable trouble that has been a direct result of the participation in armed conflict.
In addition to these losses in war there are also untold damages to property, crops, fruit-bearing trees and vines. It often takes years to return the land to full production after the ravages of war.
The tremendous toll of all the wars of man have been estimated at 3 1/2 billion deaths. That is more people than exist on earth today. Thank God this terrible carnage will end when Christ returns and puts an end to it.
From every point of view the wars of man are wrong, but man has not yet found the way to avoid them and bring peace. Wars have not brought peace. The reason peace does not come is that all mankind has rejected the plain simple way of the Bible to peace.
Is War Still a Tragic Necessity?
Many theologians still consider war a “tragic necessity,” as the following article clearly states.
“The great majority of Christians throughout history have held that war is an evil which may be justified, under certain conditions, as a tragic necessity. This doctrine was based on the assumption that wars could be limited in scope, and that they might have good results — such as the defense of freedom and justice —which would outweigh the carnage and suffering. The advent of nuclear weapons has compelled Christian theologians to make their own agonizing reappraisal of the ancient rationale for a ‘just war’. Most of them have concluded that all-out nuclear war would entail horrors of such incalculable magnitude, and offer so little hope of any ‘good’ outcome, that it cannot possibly be squared with the teachings of Christ. But at this point the theologians divide into two groups. One group believes that while it would be immoral to use nuclear weapons, it is permissible — in fact, necessary — to stockpile them, as a deterrent against their use by another power. Theologians who hold this view are constantly urging greater efforts by the United States to negotiate a workable agreement with Russia for mutual disarmament. But in the absence of such an agreement, they say, this country has no choice but to maintain enough nuclear power to dissuade the Communists from acts of aggression.
“There is wide public support for this position, and the Christians who expound it are in no danger of being pilloried as dangerous radicals. The other viewpoint is far less popular. Indeed, it may impress many Americans as being almost as IMPRACTICAL as advising men to love their enemies, or to turn the other cheek when struck. Because it conflicts so sharply with prevailing national attitudes, this second viewpoint rarely gets an attentive public hearing” (UPI Release, March 17, 1961).
Is war really a tragic necessity, or isn’t there some better way for man to live and to settle his problems? If there is no better way to live, certainly we all have nothing to look forward to.
We have seen how war has taken a terrific toll of unhappiness in the home. We have seen how the divorces and unhappy marriages have sky-rocketed. We have seen how juvenile delinquency has jumped tremendously. Sadistic and brutal crimes of children are increasing alarmingly; this was almost unheard of before World War II. The casualty tolls of the wars have been almost incomprehensible, and the property losses are staggering. Unhappiness, sickness, mental turmoil, and disease have increased. There must be some better way!
There is a better way and Jesus Christ can tell us. We need to know His answer to find peace. Only He can show us the real way to peace. In the next chapter we will begin to see some of His teachings on the subject of war and the only way to peace. We can learn these ways to peace today.