Tuesday, September 24, 2013

It costs a bomb . . .

May I share a caption that I read recently, 'This car might be a rocket,' it said, 'but it costs a bomb.'

Have you noticed how frequently we use that expression?
"It costs a bomb . . . " we say, either as a term of approval, or as one of regret.  The only certainty being that all weaponry is extremely expensive.

At any other time those words might have made little impact.  But, with the recent Arms Fair in London, together with the current outbursts of violence throughout the world, it echoed in my mind.

It also made me wonder whether those words would imply that, in economic terms, the only real beneficiaries at times of conflict are the arms manufacturers, the so-called defence industry?

For that is the irony of the terminology we use, the arms industry is always spoken of as being that of 'defence'.  Surely, if the arms were only intended for defence, and never for attack, the manufacturers would have limited opportunities for repeat sales?  As it is, their continuing profits form an important part of the economy.

Could it be, as many suspect, that bullets produced, side-by-side, on the same production line are frequently being fired at each other from opposing sides of the same battle-field . . . ?

War is costly . . . did you know that the Taliban fighters are having to curb their attacks after the cost of explosive devices quadrupled in the
past year?
Did you know that insurgents building lethal booby traps now pay up to £500 for each bomb?

The world of economics finds me floundering.  I find it hard to understand my own finances, let alone the complexities of national or international economics.  But even for me a few facts are painfully clear.

It costs a bomb to send humanitarian aid to Syrian refugees.
It costs a bomb to maintain the hospitals on the front-line and to care for the injured and dying.
It costs a bomb to destroy stockpiles of chemical warfare.

In Syria, despite prodigious use of costly weaponry, the outcome is stalemate.  All that's been achieved is mass evacuation, death and destruction.

What if we were we to surrender our faith in weaponry, lay aside our fears and, following the guidance of The Movement for the Abolition of War, invest in peace, trust and collaboration?
There's no doubt it would cost a bomb, if only in terms of converting missiles into surgical instruments, and turning tanks into combine harvesters.

But surely that would be one bomb whose resounding impact and subsequent fall-out would be universally beneficial . . . ?