“There would be an end of war and preparations for war if the cost were borne by those responsible for war. There would be an end of armaments and preparedness if incomes and inheritances and the landed estates of the feudal classes paid for the protection which their privileges enjoy. War and preparations for war are possible only because the ruling classes are able to shift a great part of the cost onto the poor by indirect taxation and loans. War expenditures are tolerated only because the burdens are concealed in the increased cost of the things people consume” — Frederic Clemson Howe
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In this quote, Frederic Clemson Howe is arguing that wars and military buildup are primarily possible due to the ruling/wealthy classes being able to pass much of the financial costs onto the poor through taxes and loans rather than bearing the costs themselves.
He suggests that if those truly responsible for decisions leading to conflict had to directly pay for defense spending through their own incomes, estates, etc., there would be an end to warfare and arms races. Howe also claims war expenditures are tolerated because the fiscal burdens are obscured and hidden through inflation of consumer goods prices rather than obvious direct taxation.
The best interpretation is that Howe is criticizing how the costs of militarism have historically been disproportionately shouldered by the less wealthy through indirect means, allowing conflicts and preparedness to continue when the elite classes do not have sufficient skin in the game financially.