All previous experience indicates that the latest expert estimate of the money spent by the UK on bombing Libya – up to £1.75 billion – will prove in time to be an underestimate.
Yesterday saw the heaviest NATO attack of the entire war, on the very centre of Sirte, leading thousands of civilians to try to flee. They are largely unable to do so because of a cordon of checkpoints set up by their attackers, slowing movement to a standstill and very occasional crawl. This massive bombing was coordinated with what we must now call the Libyan government – the former TNC. That a military action by NATO rationalised as protecting civilians from the Libyan government, ends up with a far greater bombardment of civilians on behalf of a different Libyan government, is too terrible to call ironic. NATO’s mandate to “protect civilians” from the UN actually expires on Friday, so all this week we will see a massive crescendo in NATO bombing of towns before that deadline.
But let us put that cost to the UK in context. The whole world economy is being shaken, and the livelihoods of billions damaged, by the problems of French banks having to write off Greek debt. If as expected Greece repudiates 50% of its debt, the capital written off by French banks will be in sterling approximately £4 billion. The £1.75 billion would make a big hole in that. I am certainly not suggesting that money should have been given to Greece instead of blowing up Libya, I am merely pointing out that this is a significant amount of money to waste in terms of global capital sums.
Remember we did not have that £1,75 billion – we borrowed it from the banks, adding to the international debt crisis and your and my tax burden for the rest of our lives, and our children after us. And remember the UK contributed under 25% of the NATO effort in Libya – total wasted will be pushing £10 billion.
NATO members are at the absolute heart of the world financial crisis. The colossal squandering of incredible – and in some cases unaccountable – sums in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya are fundamental to the lack of fiscal control in these economies. Not a single media pundit has mentioned it.