“In the modern age war [is] futile because the winning power would gain nothing by it. In the economically interdependent world of the twentieth century, even powerful nations needed trading partners and a stable and prosperous world in which to find markets, resources, and places for investment.
“To plunder defeated enemies and reduce them to penury would only hurt the winners. If, on the other hand, the victor decided to encourage the defeated to prosper and grow, what would have been the point of a war in the first place? Say … that Germany were to take over Europe. Would Germany then set out to ransack its conquests?
“‘But that would be suicidal. Where would her big industrial population find their markets? If she set out to develop and enrich the component parts, these would become merely efficient competitors, and she need not have undertaken the costliest war of history to arrive at that result. This is the paradox, the futility of conquest – the great illusion which the history of [the British] Empire so well illustrates.’
“The British, [so argued Norman Angell], had kept their empire together by allowing their separate colonies, notably the dominions, to flourish so that all had benefited together – and without wasteful conflict.
‘If the Statesmen of Europe could lay on one side, for a moment, the irrelevant considerations which cloud their minds, they would see that the direct cost of acquisition by force must in these circumstances necessarily exceed in value the property acquired.’”
- Margaret MacMillan, The War that Ended Peace: How Europe abandoned peace for the First World War