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"Britain spends thousands of pounds bombing Libya"
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"Britain spends thousands of pounds bombing Libya"

With financial strains facing both Britain and the United States, perhaps it would be cheaper to defend against threats on home soil rather than abroad, writes Ryan Bachoo, a  21-year-old Commonwealth Correspondent from Trinidad and Tobago.

There are damning indicators that suggest Britain’s business of war in the Middle East may be coming to a quick and embarrassing end.

As it is seen in Britain, the coalition government is struggling to come to terms with three wars, a Greek friend in need of money, and having to justify to millions of people why they are losing their job or are having their salary or pension scheme cut.

If that wasn’t enough for the David Cameron led government, the Ministry of Defence’s budget is unbalanced while staff shortages in the Libya war seems to have an effect in the Afghan and Iraq wars. Speaking to ministers of the British Parliament, Air Chief Marshal Sir Simon Bryant recently explained the huge demand for not only very expensive military equipment but also the requirement for more military personnel.

On the one hand,  the Royal Air Force owns 10 Tornado aircraft, four Hercules transport aircraft and more than 20 helicopters, all of which are in operations in Afghanistan. Couple this with daily Typhoon and Tornado strikes in operation “Ellamy” (Libya) and you have yourself a military crisis.

Put aside the military personnel required to handle intense and largely difficult war equipment, to service these war machines is expensive and it takes a long time. To build a Panavia Tornado, designed by Britain, Germany and Italy, it costs $US27, 000,000. To build a C-130 Hercules, it costs $48.5 million (FY98 constant dollars).

On the other hand, as David Cameron’s government announced spending cuts on the Ministry of Defence’s budget in an effort to balance the budget this year, the men who handle and care for these weapons do so conscious that a large pay package enters their bank account each month and a proper retirement is in place for them and their families should they make it back to Europe alive.

As the constant alarm bells of Greece’s debt crisis ring throughout Europe, threatening the euro’s very existence, the coalition government is met with yet another obstacle.

Now, as Cameron tries desperately to fast track an end to Britain’s middle-eastern involvement (notice I said Britain’s involvement & that does not necessarily mean winning wars in the Middle East), he is faced with a dilemma. How does he budget for the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and where does he find the money and resources required to continue pulling Colonel Gaddafi from Libya?

Any war, I dare say, against the west and Britain is a lost one, especially for countries in the Middle East, but unlike Hosni Mubarak and Bashar al-Assad, Muammar Gaddafi is a strong and smart leader, who knows more than just guns and ammunitions.

Every day, Britain spends thousands of pounds flying Typhoons over Libya and bombing targets, and while the missionaries of democracy in the west and in Europe continue to try to oust him, he is content on biding his time until Britain falls flat financially. Cameron can campaign on the progress the RAF is making in Libya all he wants, but he knows more than anybody, that British citizens will not be satisfied until the last RAF soldier is called out from that country.

Financially, the United States, Britain’s main ally is looking up, but when it comes to funding this war, Cameron appears to have few straws to pull again. In an attempt to convince Britain that that there is headway being made Libya, he recently stated, “’Time is on our side, not Gaddafi’s. We are allied to some of the richest and most militarily capable countries in the world. We have the Libyan people on our side and we’ll keep going.”

Forget the first and last sentence, but focus on the middle. As a citizen of the west, I hope Barack Obama isn’t saying the same thing, as he gets set to pull his first batch of American troops from Iraq this July. The key target for Britain and America now is the timing of the pullout from Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, and for all of the three, from the looks of it, even next July seems too early.

Perhaps with the financial strains both countries are under, it would be cheaper to defend both the west and Europe on their own soil rather than fight Al Qaeda on Al Qaeda’s territory. That plan seems much more publicly satisfactory than sending out young men and women to deserts and suburbs. America had better hope that a Bush never regains power in its history again, they’ve already had two.

As for Britain, a friendship with the United States that has lasted for centuries seems to be more important than saying ‘no’ when it is time to say ‘no,’ like a decade ago.

Let’s not be too hard on David now though, I bet Tony Blair is probably getting some tanning cream rubbed on to his back in some summer resort in the United States, George Bush to his right, both of them singing ‘oh what good boys we are.’

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?

To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/commonwealthcorrespondents/

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