Sad to say it, i totally agree with you on that point Impaler.
AFAIK most wars do cost lotsa money in the first few years afterwards. Only the most unusal circumstances, like conquering a country swimming in oil will allow a nation to benefit from its aggression in a short term view (3-5 years).
Lets look at WW2 as an example.
4 winning nations.
The UK got approx 50% of its reparations, but without the Marshall plan it would have been bancrupt after WW2. Lets call it a loss.
France is very similar, even while getting 80% of its reparations.
CCCP took 120% reparations, won severall satelite states, one of them developing in a "relative" high-tech state (GDR) after 40 years, and still never got the war costs in. Oh, and don't forget the odd german scientist they got. Juti Gagarin travelled on german inventions.
The only winner of WW2 is the USA. They not only paid their own military, but invested lotsa money via the Marshal plan ... BUT, they also sold tons of weapons to all allies, got 70-80% of the german scientists (jewish AND nazi). The bomb was developed by german-jewish and nazi-german scientist mostly, and the US-american space programm was also still heavily influenced by those "conquered RP/tech". Oh, and last but not least the USA managed to strike big on the diplomatic field, getting severall trusthworthy allies for 50 years, till they managed to ...., nah, thats off topic