The new bombing campaign in Iraq, which will inevitably be extended to Syria in due course, is expected, even by its advocates, to last at least two years. A much shorter bombing campaign, that of Libya in 2011, cost the UK between £500 million and one billion pounds. This was roughly the same as the savings made by ending the education maintenance allowance or three times the amount saved by scrapping the disability living allowance. Clearly, neither of these adventures was, or will be, affordable by a UK whose government is continuing to cut public services, hold down wages and refuses to address a housing crisis that is spiralling out of control. Even more significant, however, is that neither the bombing of Libya nor the earlier bombings of Iraq succeeded in stabilising the Middle East nor bringing to its diverse people security, harmony and democracy.
The complexities of the Middle East are huge due, in no small part, to our original colonial interventions, including the establishment and nurturing of the Gulf States, our involvement in Palestine and Israel and our meddling in Iraq, Iran, Libya, Syria and across the region. Albert Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Anyone who thinks that, this time, dropping bombs on the Middle East will help is, according to Einstein’s definition, truly insane.