The Costs of Bombing

Recently, a meme compiled by @RafiqIbnJubair of IlmFeed has been shared around Facebook, Twitter and other social media outlining the “costs of bombing” and what this money could otherwise fund. This post shall examine and analyse the claims of this meme.

cost of bombing

6 Hour Tornado Mission: This meme’s first claim is that a six-hour Tornado mission costs £210,000. According to the UK Parliament, Tornado GR4 missions cost taxpayers a whopping £35,000 per flight hour. So, at least the maths are correct in this case. The estimated flight hours of a single mission range anywhere from four to eight hours; the above meme assumes an average of six hours.

4 Paveway Bombs and 2 Brimstone Missiles: It is likely that some Tornado missions will involve both of these weapons. Paveway bombs are estimated to cost approximately £30,000 each, and Brimstone missiles are estimated at a costly £100,000 per missile. It may not be logical to assume that each Tornado will use all of its weaponry in each mission, however; the first two RAF Tornados to bomb Syrian territory after the UK vote reportedly used three Paveway bombs each.

Costs of Bombing: Overall, the meme does raise some excellent points about the costs of the UK military bombing Syria. However, it is difficult to say with any degree of accuracy the exact costs. The costs are sure to be high, though–we can estimate, even for the shortest of missions (4 hours) that use few bombs (2 Paveways, for example), the total cost would still be £200,000. And this is for a “best case” scenario in terms of costs, as it is likely that most missions will be longer in duration and use more of a Tornado’s payload.

Salaries of Publicly-Funded Professions: This meme’s point is dependent on the perspective of the viewer. If we consider using the costs of bombing to train new teachers/doctors/police officers, using salary alone is not sufficient in outlining costs (costs of training professional staff are extensive, reaching up to £250,000 for doctors). If, instead, we consider using the costs of bombing to instead retain professionals in key positions, then the analysis in the meme is likely much more reflective of reality.

Conclusion: Overall, the meme is a bit imprecise with the actual costs of bombing missions into Syria–however, as it is impossible to calculate the costs of future attacks, it is a good place to start. In comparing the costs of war to the costs of social benefits (e.g. police forces, medical services and education), this meme generates a worthwhile conversation about what we’re willing to pay for at home (in this case, the UK).

What is worth exploring further is the cost to societies, like Syria’s, which are victims of such bombings and how many nurses, police officers and teachers are killed by these strikes and the long-term impact this will have on the region.


“How to Beat Islamic State” by Maajid Nawaz

In a recent op-ed for the Wall Street Journal, Maajid Nawaz discusses how we as “the West” can defeat Daesh, also known as Islamic State. Nawaz argues that he has a unique perspective on tackling Islamist groups, as he himself once served as a leader of an Islamist group  (albeit a non-violent one).

One of the issues Nawaz presents is the inability or unwillingness of Western governments to name or define the “enemy” they are fighting. He says, “I call this the Voldemort effect, after the villain in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books. Many well-meaning people in Ms. Rowling’s fictional world are so petrified of Voldemort’s evil that they do two things: They refuse to call Voldemort by name, instead referring to ‘He Who Must Not Be Named,’ and they deny that he exists in the first place. Such dread only increases public hysteria, thus magnifying the appeal of Voldemort’s power.” While linking Harry Potter with Daesh may seem farcical on the surface, recent comments by those in the political sphere, from Donald Trump to Marine Le Pen, show just how dangerous it can be to leave a threat undefined. As crimes against Muslims are on the rise, Nawaz’s suggestion that “public hysteria”will increase appears to be at least partially accurate.

Central to Nawaz’s proposals for stopping Daesh are three points: (1) isolate them (Daesh), (2) make them less appealing to marginalised Muslims and (3) avoid an all-out “clash of civilisations” between “Islamic civilisation” and “the West”.

Read the full article here.