This weekend, all across the UK members of the public took part in Remembrance Day. Traditionally the laying of wreaths and memorial ceremonies marks the sacrifice that men and women have made in defence of liberty and for the love of their country. But do the economics of conflict justify the price we pay?
Regrettably, war has become big business. Yessir, I’ll have a Big Mac. And I’d like a Molotov Cocktail along with my fries! If you are in the Defence Industry, or on the board of Halliburton – you should probably stop reading this blog now and start bugging my phone. Actually, if you work for McDonalds or Starbucks you should probably order a macchiatto and walk away too!
I’m always slightly bemused by the anti-capitalist protesters who are camped outside St Paul’s. Apart from creating their own internal economy – soup kitchens and camping supplies purchased from the outdoors supply store on Ludgate Hill – they seem to have missed the point. Surely their energetic rage is better directed at the warmongers who manufacture and sell arms that maim and kill, than the bankers who have presided over the recent economic cataclysm?
There are currently 12 major military conflicts happening across the globe. These are wars where the casualty rate is more than 1,100 per annum. Wars like financial crises, oft repeat themselves.
So here are some numbers (in no particular order) to make you think:
- 35 million. The total number of military and civilian casualties in WW1 is estimated at over 35 million. More than 15 million died and 20 million were wounded ranking it among the deadliest conflicts in human history.
- $3.2-4 trillion. The total estimated cost for the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. According to a Congressional Budget Office(CBO) report published in October 2007, the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan could cost taxpayers a total of $2.4 trillion dollars by 2017 when counting the huge interest costs – because combat is being financed with borrowed money.
- $1.44 billion. The amount that Veritas Capital Fund, through it’s subsidiary DynCorp has made through its provision of training to new Iraqi police forces.
- £995bn. Scale of support provided to bail out the UK banks. The amount of cash currently borrowed by the government to support banks has risen to a total of £124bn since December 2009.
- US$100. The average value paid for trafficked children. These children are just as likely to be casualties of war as they are of economic hardship.
Forgiveness costs nothing.