‘Wars in Peace’: book launch today at Royal United Services Institute in Whitehall

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malcolm chalmersToday Radio West Midlands interviewed Professor Malcolm Chalmers Research Director and Director (UK Defence Policy) at Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) and Special Adviser to the UK Parliament’s Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy.

An online search revealed that the interview related to the launch of a new RUSI book, Wars in Peace, published in April, which audits the last quarter-century of military intervention.

At 6pm today in the Institute, two of the book’s authors, Professor Michael Clarke, Professor Malcolm Chalmers and other panellists, will discuss the key findings of the book and, looking ahead, their relevance to the future of British military intervention. The event is open to the public.

rusi logoRUSI’s summary: “As combat operations in Afghanistan draw to a close, and defence cuts and war weariness threaten to bring an end to an era of interventionism, the question now needs to be asked: have Britain’s military endeavours made it, and the world, a safer place – and at what cost?”

It continues: “Wars in Peace considers the impact of British military operations on domestic security” – we summarise:

  • the legacies of UK interventions
  • their strategic outcomes;
  • the link between public and elite opinion on intervention;
  • the financial costs of and industrial contribution to operations;
  • the conduct of British strategy; and
  • the UK’s alliances and alignments.

richard norton-taylorRichard Norton-Taylor, editor, journalist, playwright and Member of Council of the Royal United Services Institute reviewed the book in April (click on the last link to see a large and detailed graphic of the costs of war, country by country, based on information in the study).

Points made included:

  • the bulk of the money has been spent on interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan judged to have been “strategic failures”;
  • “there is no longer any serious disagreement” that Britain’s role in the Iraq war served to channel and increase the radicalisation of young Muslims in the UK;
  • estimates of 100,000 Iraqis killed, with 2 million refugees fleeing to neighbouring countries;
  • “largely discretionary” operations – the failed interventions in Iraq from 2003, and in Afghanistan after 2005 – accounted for 84% of the total cost of British military interventions since 1990.

wars in peace coverMost of the study’s figures have been collated for the first time from responses to freedom of information requests to the Ministry of Defence.

The figures are net additional costs of the operations –on top of what the armed forces would have spent on running costs such as fuel, training exercises, and salaries.

Britain’s military operations since the end of the cold war have cost £34.7bn and a further £30bn may have to be spent on long-term veteran care.

RUSI asks – as many do – if Britain’s costly ‘military endeavours’ have made it, and the world, a safer place.

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