By Nick Kollerstrom
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Counting the Cost of War

This article is over 17 years, 9 months old
On highly respected criteria Britain has been involved in more substantial wars following the Second World War than any other nation.
Issue 284

This conclusion emerges from Pennsylvania State University’s prestigious ‘Causes of War’ project. On their criterion of at least 1,000 soldiers killed in battle, Britain scores as having been involved in five inter-state wars from the Second World War to 1997, Israel six, and France and the US both three. They haven’t yet updated beyond 1997 – could they be reticent to come out with an updated score which will clearly put Britain at number one? From enquiries I gather that Britain and the US will both score an extra two from Afghanistan and Iraq, whereas their counting for Kosovo does not attain the threshold of 1,000 soldier- or battle-related deaths. As I count it, therefore, Britain will score seven (ie one war per decade), Israel six and the US five, making us the most belligerent nation on earth.

They have a very different scoring of all ‘militarised inter-state disputes’, which gives enormously larger numbers, and for which the US scores far higher than anyone else. Britain or Israel looks like being number two in this list, and I’d be appreciative if any reader would like to participate in this research. With moves afoot to found a British Ministry of Peace, there is a need for clear and reliable statistics that can be given to MPs.

Let’s hear some debate over the extent to which these figures are related to two other data-sets. Firstly Britain has been number two world arms exporter in terms of revenue from sales since 1991 (before that it was the USSR), except for one year when France beat it. Secondly, the HMSO figures for 2002 show that Britain now has a higher percentage of its own citizens behind bars than any other nation in Europe (the European-average is around 0.1 percent, Britain is 0.127 percent while the US leads the world with 0.7 percent) – a real achievement of New Labour.

The UN passes altruistic motions concerning peace, international collaboration and disarmament, as catalogued each year by the UN Handbook. I totted up the main nations voting against these each year, and your readers may not be surprised to hear which two nations have here maintained a top-scoring position – for the last 30 years! The US has voted against about half of these and Britain, one third (www.action-for-un-renewal.org.uk/pages/votes.htm). For comparison, a mere 2 percent of UN delegates voted against these motions, on average. Again, this may not be irrelevant to Britain’s shocking number one position of chief warmaker.

Nick Kollerstrom
London

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