Sunday, 20 June 2010

Wars and occupations: wasteful spending we can cut

The Mirror has this report today:

'The cost to British taxpayers of fighting, diplomacy and reconstruction in Afghanistan and Iraq since the 9/11 attacks has passed £20 billion, official figures reveal.

This includes £18 billion for military operations, on top of the normal defence budget, as well as hundreds of millions of pounds on aid and security for UK officials.

But the total does not cover expenses like troops' basic salaries or long-term care for the seriously wounded, and the final price is likely to be much higher.

Opponents of the wars condemned the "obscene" cost and pointed out that Britain's involvement in Afghanistan remains very expensive at a time when the Government is slashing billions from public spending.

Former London mayor Ken Livingstone said the cost of the conflicts was the same as that of scrapping student tuition fees in England for 10 years.

Bob Crow, general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union, said ministers could not cut jobs and services while the "grotesque waste of money" in Iraq and Afghanistan was allowed to dominate spending priorities.

He said: "While new hospital schemes are scrapped, young people are consigned to the scrap heap of the dole and key transport projects are kicked into the long grass, billions are being poured into the death and destruction of wars many miles from home.

"The money that's been drained away on illegal war-mongering is only outstripped by the cash ripped off in the bankers bail-out."

Between April 2001 and March 2010, the UK's expenditure in the two war-torn countries was at least £20.34 billion, Whitehall figures show.

Some £9.24 billion of this was spent in Iraq and £11.1 billion in Afghanistan.'

This is via Stop the War:

Protest on Budget Day - Cut the War - Scrap Trident

Demonstrate Budget Day: Tuesday 22 June
Cut the war, not schools and hospitals
Scrap Trident, not public services

4.30pm - 6.30pm Parliament Square London
Called by Stop the War Coalition and Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament

On Budget day the government will announce massive cuts in public services, with the exception of the defence budget. Four billion a year is being wasted on the futile war in Afghanistan, enough to build 200 new schools. An astronomical £70 billion is still planned to be spent on the Trident nuclear missile system.


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