The Cost of War – a poverty issue!

This morning I was invited by some colleagues to join the March for the Alternative on Saturday. It is a TUC (Trades Union Congress) initiative against the UK government’s response to tackling the financial deficit faced by the country; extreme cuts at the cost of services and jobs. The rights and wrongs of this I do not want to discuss, as views differ so widely.

Whilst thinking about this I was also listening to the radio. The BBC presenter was interviewing a defence analyst about the recent involvement in Libya. He was asked about how much the military intervention costs. Apparently, the planes used on the first bombing raid, launched from an RAF base in Norfolk, cost in the region of £35,000 per plane per hour in the air. The round trip to Libya takes about six hours, which makes a total in the region of £200k per plane. I do not know how many aircraft were involved, but I seem to remember it was three.

I pondered the number of libraries we have under threat of closure and began balancing planes, bombs and books in my head. The interview, however, was still going on. “But that doesn’t include the bombs” the analyst added. So how much does a Tomahawk Cruise missile cost? He continued “Somewhere in the region of £750k each and possibly up to £1.1m”. I do remember that on day one of the ‘conflict’ 104 missiles were launched. Anyone with a minimal mathematical knowledge could reckon that a total expenditure of £100m would not be out of the question. I became aware that I was standing with my mouth open. I was no longer balancing books, but thinking about global debt, world poverty and equality. The perennial problem for societies – the cost of war.

This figure was day one in Libya and I know the cost was split between the UK, France and the USA. Today is day five, are we now talking about half a billion pounds, possibly! And yes, Germany, Denmark and Yemen and involved, too. What I wonder have the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan cost in hard currency alone, not even thinking about the human tragedy. It is mind-boggling and scary and makes me wonder about financial insecurity and global recession. Money going up in smoke – I cannot think of a more pertinent use of language. Should we still be blaming bankers and the financial institutions for their misdemeanours, or perhaps question our western governments about their military expenditure.

I did a bit of research “The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has estimated the cost of prosecuting a war against Iraq at up to $9 billion per month, on top of an initial outlay of up to $13 billion for the deployment of troops to the Persian Gulf region” Is that the cost to US or to the allies? Either way it works out at over $100 billion a year. That’s a lot of money!

So if I choose to March for the Alternative on Saturday, I will do so not just as a statement against cuts but also to ask our government to think about how it allocated the money it is spending –   much of which goes up in smoke.

Local and global poverty is a major equality issue and is perhaps about balancing choices. No-one chooses poverty, but those who make decisions about going to war will probably not see the financial impact on their lives.

About equalityedge

I run Equality Edge and its unique and creative "Working with Difference" project. It supports employers and managers in gaining a competitive and cost saving advantage from meeting equality and diversity best practice obligations. Coaching and workshops are used to deliver organisational, team and leadership development, assisting in improving communication and the understanding of the impact difference has on workplace behaviour.
This entry was posted in armed forces, beyond diversity, discrimination, Equality & Diversity, inequality, poverty, Prejudice. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to The Cost of War – a poverty issue!

  1. jason de jonge says:

    the rights of other people do not seem to matter to you. when this govt. does nothing to help the oppressed you complain, when they try to help you complain.
    or do you not really care much about the weak getting killed in other countries unless it gives you an excuse to bash our govt.

  2. The Stirrer says:

    Wars are a “luxury” we can ill afford.
    Forget Afghanistan et al, charity starts at home – doesn’t it?
    We can’t support the rest of the world, we have enough of our own problems.
    And stop oveseas aid too IMHO, it’s only plundered by War Lords and their ilk.

  3. SteveM says:

    I find myself agreeing with Jason… Sure, military capability is expensive and the moral choices to which you allude are unlikely to be solved by ‘either/or’ thinking. But I’m intrigued, it appears that there are tanks shelling oppressed citizens, regime troops kicking in doors and abducting civilians, artillery units attacking population centres and you are prepared to stand by and criticise the decision to defend people based on cost???? What would you stand up for?

    • equalityedge says:

      One of the themes of this blog is to pose questions and not necessarily find answers. I am not suggesting that intervention was not a needed, but was the UN resolution a declaration of war; clearly the Arab League did not think so.

      Any attack on civilians is abhorrent to me and I was certainly not suggesting that we should sit back and watch as people get slaughtered.

      Wherever possible, I am a believer in finding peaceful solutions to conflict situation. We have been in a war situation in Afghanistan for ten years; how much closer to peace are we? Last week I was listening to some political commentators suggesting that we must begin talking to the Taliban, if we want to achieve lasting peace. Experience tells us that this is necessary; it was only when the UK government began talking to the IRA that any steps towards peace could be taken in Northern Ireland.

      The blog was not written an anti-war or pro Gaddafi rant, nor one that suggested we should let civilians die. It was just to pose the question about balancing bombs with books. One less missile would have paid for many! Today, in his budget speech, George Osborne explained that the cost of military intervention in Libya will be paid for entirely out of the country’s reserves. Did you know we had any?

    • Chris Markiewicz says:

      Scary calculations Michael. Closer to home, my children face the prospect of being “in hock” to the government for years to come in return for a university education (should they choose that route). I don’t know the figures, but I wouldn’t mind betting that a fraction of what is spent on military interventions could cover a return to free education for all.

  4. SteveM says:

    I absolutely agree that peace is likely to require dialogue between all parties – I would have no problem talking to the IRA or the Taliban. In joining in dialogue we are able to understand our own contribution to the conflict – in this way we are able to unravel our differing assumptions and narratives that may have been part of our histories. And that is fine, and takes time and investment that we should have made some time ago. Back to the present, people are being killed by ban oppressor and we need to be clear in our actions.

    @ The Stirrer – your isolationist philosophy is fine right up until the moment bombs go off on the tube or airliners fly into skyscrapers. We are globally interconnected – as privileged (rich, educated) partners, we have to support the rest of the world.

  5. superb blog & writing skills. you make this look easy lol. Keep up the great work I’ll be back to read more of your posts later my friend!

    • equalityedge says:

      Many thanks for your comment and support. Writing this blog has been a great challenge for me, but is becoming an important part of my work.

      Support such as yours makes it worthwhile.

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