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Fog of war and the cost of war in Libya

Lindsey German
Stop the War Coalition
19 June 2011

The fog of war is particularly dense when it applies to the cost of war, as Ian Katz point out in his article What's it costing British taxpayers to bomb Libya?

The Libya war doesn’t seem to have a price tag on it; even though the government prosecuting it is busy calculating that we cannot afford present levels of disability allowance or a public NHS, let alone optional extras such as libraries, youth centres and nurseries.

One estimate put the cost at £1bn by the autumn but Katz’s attempts to get this verified -- or to be given any other alternative figure _failed as he was passed round different government departments.

The unlimited special allowance handed over to the military in times of war (and we are now permanently in times of war) would come as a shock to most people.

A government  which claims that we all have to tighten our belts because we have collectively maxed out on the national credit card might find it hard to explain why a few of us continue to binge on platinum and gold cards in the name of ‘defence’.

The cost of the Libya war comes out of treasury reserves -- unlike the £5bn a year earmarked for Afghanistan. But treasury reserves can be spent on anything. Why not spend them on the Education Maintenance Alowance (EMA), or bringing care homes back into public ownership, or cutting VAT, or maybe even maintaining public sector pensions?

These are the sorts of questions which MPs should be asking but they are conspicuous for the most part only by their complicity and apathy over another war they can’t be bothered to understand.

Those of us clutching dog eared library books, wondering how we are going to work longer for less money and fearing for our children’s future should ask these MPs why there never has to be a jumble sale to raise money for an Apache helicopter?

With the sad death of Brian Haw announced yesterday, it’s just the time to recommit to ending these wars -- and make the politicians sit up and listen.

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