Or that the scale of the war can be appraised form its cost to society, just as a matter of perspective.
The reality it seems, is much more mundane, as you point out. That suggestion though, is what maybe the piece is suggesting by its headline. That kind of controversial commentary is why I'd clicked on it to begin with, but if I'd known that it was just being literal about the topic, it wouldn't be nearly as appealing.
Still, it's kind of crazy that these old debts are still lingering around. Just in a broader, historical sense.