In the fantasy novel I am writing, there is a world-wide war going on. The war spans several continents and has many fronts, but the actual fighting is very similar to that of WWI - mostly waiting in trenches. The front lines rarely move far. This has led to several countries being permanently bordered by the fronts on one or two sides (no country is surrounded).
I'm envisioning these countries as being great military powers, constantly locked into a state of battle and tactics. I would like them to be powerful nations with powerful armies... but I'm not sure how realistic that is. My concern lies with economy. To become the rich and powerful nations I want them to be, capable of supporting vast armies, they need to have a massive income. With most of their population locked down by war, and one or two sides of the country completely closed off by enemy forces, how can this be?
Before I get to the details, I would like to quell any suspicions about this question being opinion-based. My question is: Can a country in such a situation be permanently rich and powerful, with either a stable or increasing income? Examples of how that can happen are certainly welcome as evidence to back up your answer, but the actual answer itself is a simple yes or no, followed by why or why not (real-life examples would be great, if they exist). I'm not after the best method to make this happen. I just want to see if it can happen at all.
- The technology level of both sides is that of Ancient Rome or earlier. Nothing later.
- Those attacking the countries are - not exactly human. Because there are so many of them and because they threaten the whole world, many warriors from different countries will join to fight them. Think crusades, except it's a massive front, instead of one city; and much of the world participating, instead of just Europe.
- This is a fantasy novel, and magic is present, but it should not be considered.
- These countries need to maintain the fronts, and maintain (if not grow) their levels of wealth and power over at least a hundred years. There can be no decline, no eventual fall.
- The fronts are extensive. Collectively, they equal roughly twice the total perimeter of Australia. These borders need to constantly be defended, but also note that they can be broken up over however many countries are necessary.
- This has to be the case with several countries, spanning different locations and climates. All countries have at least two separate sea borders, and are predominantly: mountainous icy wastes, hilly savanna, tropical rainforest, wooded islands, or vast temperate forests. So if agriculture and trade are parts of the answer, then they need to apply to all of the countries, and not just a few.
- 'Rich and Powerful' means the countries are capable of recruiting, training, and maintaining massive armies, and still have the resources to handle normal internal affairs adequately (ie, the rest of the country isn't a big slum). 'Permananent' in this case means that these economies aren't dwindling or falling. They are stable, or growing if possible.
- I will allow questionable government practices (tyranny, corruption, etc.), only if they don't mean the country will collapse within the next hundred years. I would prefer not to go this route, but I will allow it.
I will be happy to provide more details as needed. Just let me know.