Debatably, the most potent lesson that all nations learnt from the first and second world wars, is the fact that sustaining war is one of the most expensive forms of public spending. War can drain the economic strength of a country to an extent that a country can shift from a first class economy to a middle income economy. Historians have always had to look at war as a detrimental social phenomenon that has negative impacts on the economic development of the state h, as well as the country building process. Contrary to this assumption, war has positive aspects as well. In the contexts of nation building and economic growth and development, war is among the most important contributory factors. It may not be apparent how the post-war period can make a state better than it was before, but research has indicated that the aftermath of war can come with serious state-building efforts. The average historian might have been as impatient with history as to ignore the positive impact of war on economic development and effective governance, but the positive impacts of war have been a topic of debate in most developed countries in the recent past. This paper seeks to explain how war is a significant contributory factor in the process of nation building. This will be achieved through explaining the correlation between war, economic development and effective governance.
War, as described by a majority of social scientists, is a somewhat justified or rational armed conflict between two or more parties that differ in principle or on political grounds over a certain subject matter. According to many social scientists war is associated with such negative results as the loss of lives and property, destruction of infrastructure et cetera. Economic development, on the other hand is described as the qualitative improvement in the economy of a country. Typically, economic development is associated with a shift from an agriculture-based economy to an industrial economy. Worth noting is the fact that most developing nations, especially those in Africa, rely on agriculture as the backbone of their economies. On the contrary, most developed nations, especially those in Europe rely on industrialization a great deal. This is mainly because the developed nations have access to efficient novel technology that can enable them to achieve industrialization at cost effective rates. Effective governance refers to circumstances where the government in power has established institutions that carry out their duties effectively and work in the best interest of the public. Explaining the connection between war, economic development and effective governance will validate the hypothesis of this paper.
The connection between war and economic development has been explained variously as being the effect of the post-war taxation policies. After a war, the economy of a country grows weak due to excessive public spending on the acquisition of weapons and sustenance of soldiers in the battlefield. This means that the country has to spend heavily, after the war, to rebuild the infrastructure, both social and physical. After a war, all citizens feel obliged to contribute to the nation building process. In other words, the average citizen, who is affiliated to their country, will take it upon themselves to ensure reconstruction of their country. This way, they will be more willing to contribute generously to the state. Incidences of tax evasion will no doubt be reduced since the citizens need the protection of the state in order to work properly towards being productive members of the society. Arguably, working in an environment where peace does not exist is not practicable. Similarly, the citizens cannot work in an anarchical state as they fear instability.
Secondly, all citizens rely almost entirely on the state for security and protection. Such security can only be offered effectively if and only if the government has adequate funds. For this reason, the citizens will no doubt contribute to their own security through the administration of taxes. These monies are used to build the state. State building has been described as the process of ‘getting a nation back on its feet’. This entails the process of peacekeeping, usually carried out by the United Nations. During the postwar period, the people and organizations in need of security and protection pay taxes and do not get reluctant when the government imposes more taxes since they link such taxes to security, peace and prosperity. The fact that the government uses such revenue to establish and initiate development projects is a motivator in the contribution of taxes. The taxation system of Germany, for instance was greatly enhanced after the second armed conflict. The enhancement of the taxation system was aimed at helping the nation regain its position as the world’s most industrialized states after the war had consumed substantial amounts of public funds. In essence, therefore, war can be said to be a way of strengthening the taxation system.
The main reason why African states are not well built is because they have not been able to strengthen their taxation systems in such a way that they can catch up with tax evaders and non complying organizations. This way, they have not been able to move from being third world nations. On the contrary, the European states that have been through various armed conflicts have enhanced their systems of collecting revenue. The major European countries were major players in the first and second armed conflicts of the world. The war had an adverse effect on the social, physical as well as economic infrastructures of the countries. This was a prominent case in turkey. Historians have since referred to turkey as the sick man of Europe. This was after the nation was destroyed to the extent that it lost a sense of self reliance. The country had its resources drained and wasted in the war. After the war, the country enhanced its taxation system in order to recover its lost glory in both the economic and the political senses. The country, achieved better status after a decade. It took approximately three decades or more to get Turkey improve on its innovative position. This has been taken to be one of the suitable case in point of the encouraging consequences of war on issues pertaining the state building.
Unlike Europe, African countries did not have the chance to gain from war. None of the African countries actively participated in the world conflicts. The world conflicts entailed battle for supremacy among the world powers. Had African countries participated in the second armed conflicts, historians suppose, they could have achieved better status in the after war period. The dominant factor that pulled back development in African nations for quite a long time is colonialism. Colonization, which was in most cases carried out by European countries of the less developed nations such as African countries, was the chief factor behind retardation of development. This is mainly because the colonial masters used the resources from the African nations for their own benefits. Had the nations risen up and engaged the colonizers in war, they could have been able to determine their political futures. Even so, the countries in Africa cannot bear the blame for their inability to engage in war. They failed to engage in war; simply because they did not have reason to fight in the second and the first wars of the world. The wars were a race for supremacy among the world’s industrial powers. Secondly, the African nations did not have what it takes to engage in war. They did not have superior weapons like those possessed by the superior powers.
The debt crisis in the post war period can motivate the country to collect more funds from the citizens and organization. The noticeable example of a nations that expanded due to post war impacts is Japan. As a matter of fact, Japan on of the most prominent victim of the second armed conflict. Being the only country to have ever fallen victim of nuclear energy, the nation was brought to its knees by the United States. Even so, the post war period, unknown to many, was to bring better results. The country, besides receiving substantial reconstruction funds from the United States and the United Nations, was helped by the major war allies. Additionally, Japan invested much in war technology. The country, which had been substantially reduced, economically, introduced new taxes and levies in a bid to generate reconstruction funds internally. Currently, Japan is among the world leaders in as far as the technology industry is concerned. Similarly, Japan is a leading nation in the automobile industry, thanks to the post war development efforts. Japan is currently an industrialized nation of high political cadre.
The postwar period is associated with urgency. Urgency is felt in the economic sense as well as the political sense. Urgency in the economic sense calls for better taxation policies that are aimed at boosting countries development efforts. Urgency in the political sense calls for good governance. Good and effective governance is a cause and result of effective leadership and well established government institutions. Lack of effective governance has derailed nation building and economic development efforts. Again, the most appropriate examples can be drawn from Africa. Absence of good governance was the cause of the infamous Rwanda Genocide. The mass killings of the 1990s were a result of ethnic clashes that were politically-motivated. The government in place back then was severely against the minority Tutsi community that was claiming a share of power. The ensuing rebellion saw the killings of close to one million people. Such massacres derail development since the country is deprived of labor following the killings of able bodied young people. Additionally, the absence of good governance diversifies ideology in such a way that the people lack what is referred to as unity of direction. Unity of direction is the tendency of people within a country to focus on one goal.
The case is Rwanda was similar to what happened in Uganda in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Poor governance was a common phenomenon in Uganda during this period, thanks to the harsh dictatorial administration of President Idi Amin. Arguably one of the worst dictators in the history of Africa, Idi Amin headed a government that saw the worst economic performance. The Ugandan currency lost value to an extent that the economies of its former trading partners such as Kenya surpassed it, while they were poor performers before the beginning of poor governance headed by President Idi Amin. A similar case was observed in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The time of Dictator Mobutu Sessesseko marked the worst form of poor governance. The dictator, wasted national resources and used them for personal interests. During this time, the performance of the nation economically was poor; hence, it was not in a position to support the building of the natrion.
Undoubtedly, Rwanda, Uganda, as well as the DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo) benefited from the impacts of war since it supported nation building. When the neighbors and citizens of Uganda realized that the country was becoming politically irrelevant. Such neighbors as Kenya and Tanzania combined military energy to overthrow the tyranny in Uganda. The combined forces, plus the remaining rebels in Uganda declared war on the Dictator. The war did not last long before the tyrant fled Uganda for Saudi Arabia. The post war period came with prosperity and better nation building efforts. Uganda, which is currently an average performer by African standards, has reconstructed itself after the war following enhanced taxation and good governance. The taxation, initially aimed at eliminating the inflation brought about by the careless and unprofessional printing of money, generated adequate funds for economic development. Following the positive effects of the war, Uganda is an active participant in import and export trade.
The relationship between good governance and war is a technical one. However, it can be explained in a simple statement. Poor governance may cause war, but good governance may be a result of war. Good governance may as well prevent the occurrence of war. In the post war period, all citizens endeavor to achieve a peaceful period where security prevails. In a bid to achieve such peace and security, the citizens concentrate efforts on selecting good and efficient leaders. This way, effective institutions are put in place and in the long run the state is built efficiently. For this reason, war has been described variously as an ideological magnet. This means that the postwar period motivates unity of vision and political strategy. The centralization of ideology is the beginning of prosperity since all citizens and institutions work towards achieving the central goals. The cause of war is usually associated with diverse goals and ideologies. Where the ideology held by the various political standings is dissimilar, especially when such ideology touches on sensitive subject matters, war becomes inevitable.
According to gurus in European and American history, peace and effective governance are the final stages of war. After a period of conflict, calm returns to the land and peace is restored. Such negative aspects as political discrimination do not persist into the post war period. This is to say that the post war period is associated with the elimination of that which actually caused the war. This causes confidence that there is going to be a tremendous improvement and development in the nation building process. After the Second World War, there was suspicion between Eastern Europe and western states as well as the United States. Being an after war period, tension was high as the world anticipated a third world war. All countries took the precaution in response to the warning signs that there was an impending third war. Such suspicion caused many countries to continue investing in war technology and strengthening their industrial base. The countries strengthened their economic backing in anticipation of heavy spending by their governments in military operations. This was the beginning of the cold war, a war that was silent and non violent for a number of years after the end of the second war of the world powers. Such investment in war technology and industrialization worked in the best interest of nation building and economic development.
Technology is the backbone of economic development in all nations. War spurs technology and triggers technological advancements. Internet, arguably the most useful technology is a result of war. The web, commonly referred to as the internet was invented by the American soldiers in the world wars. Additionally, such pieces of technology as the fax machine were invented in the times of the American civil war. Such technologies have since triggered economic development. The fact that the internet is a reliable source of information relating to virtually all aspects of life, explains the importance the same. Africa, which has not been party to any major wars, has remained behind such technologies as the web. The internet is arguably among the chief contributors to nation building. Internet, the world’s biggest medium of communication, facilitates business transactions and social networking. Such business transaction and social networking enable a country to borrow from developed countries. This way, the nation is built on proper ideologies. Other technologies that can be attributed to war include such inventions as the automobile technology. These contribute greatly to industrialization efforts. Industrialization is a step towards economic development since it replaces such basic economic activities as agriculture. A nation’s national income is bigger and better when the economy is industrialized than when the economy is basically agricultural. Most African states are founded on agricultural backgrounds. It is for this reason that building them is quite a hassle.
In conclusion, it is apparent that, from the foregoing, war is a positive factor in as far as state building is concerned. War, besides contributing to economic growth, is a great motivator of economic development. The difference between economic development and economic growth is that the former refers to qualitative aspects of the economy whereas the later refers to quantitative aspects of the economy. Economic development goes hand in hand with good governance. Absence of good governance derails economic development since allocation of national resources is done ineffectively and inefficiently. The postwar period is associated with peace and prosperity as the citizens seek security and protection of the state. War as well encourages other minority groups to contribute to state building. The first and second world wars encouraged women to contribute to the military and economic building. In other words, war encourages people to discover their capabilities in national developments. It was after the Second World War that women realized that they could work in equal capacity as their male counterparts. The fact that the minority groups get involved in state building during and after the war is a positive gesture as the overall efforts are enhanced.
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