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I challenge the view that war leads to economic benefits.

I guess you're not a Keynesian. :-)

From Wiki:

The economic effects advanced by supporters of Military Keynesianism can be broken down into four areas, two on the demand side and two on the supply side.

On the demand side, increased military demand for goods and services is generated directly by government spending. Secondly, this direct spending induces a multiplier effect of general consumer spending. These two effects are directly in line with general Keynesian economic doctrine.

On the supply side, the maintenance of a standing army removes many workers, usually young males with less skills and education, from the civilian workforce. This demographic group ordinarily faces an especially high level of unemployment; some argue that drawing them into military service helps prevent crime or gang activity. In the United States, enlistment is touted as offering direct opportunities for education or skill acquisition, possibly to target this demographic.

In this sense, the military might act as an employer of last resort – it is an employment opportunity which tends to hire from the bottom (least qualified) part of the workforce, provides a decent standard of living, serves a useful social purpose, and offers jobs regardless of the state of the general economy.

Also on the supply side, it is often argued that military spending on research and development (R&D) increases the productivity of the civilian sector by generating new infrastructure and advanced technology. Frequently cited examples of technology developed partly or wholly through military funding but later applied in civilian settings include radar, nuclear power, and the internet.

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