THE extent of the economic loss or gain which a country can expect from any war is not only determined by the hazard of battle. A country can and should try to control the economic outcome through the strategy with which it chooses to pursue the war. Consider the case before 1914 of a small, highly industrialised island with an insignificant agricultural sector faced with the possibility of a war against a larger, equally industrialised and agriculturally more self-sufficient economy. The advantage of the island lay in its higher level of output and wealth per head, representing both a higher level of productivity (although mainly in the agricultural sector) and a greater and more profitable involvement in international trade and investment. This advantage depended, however, on the ability of the island to continue to earn even in wartime conditions the wherewithal to pay for the imports which sustained its economy, which meant continuing to play a major role in the international trade and payments network from which its superior levels of national income were in part derived.
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Alan S. Milward
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