UK

Iraq And Afghanistan Have Cost Britain Billions And Were 'Strategic Failures', RUSI Report Says

24/04/2014 14:54 BST | Updated 24/04/2014 15:59 BST

British military interventions since the end of the Cold War could have cost the country nearly £65bn on top of its normal defence spending, a major study has said.

The study also said the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq - Britain's two biggest military operations since the breakup of the Soviet Union - were "strategic failures" and the combined financial costs of 10 military actions were £34bn with potentially £30bn on top of that to care for the conflicts' veterans, The Guardian reported.

The figures given are on top of what the armed forces would have been spent anyway. A total of 782 British armed forces personnel have died in conflicts says 1990, the study says.

The conclusions make sobering reading after former prime minister Tony Blair gave a speech calling for a more aggressive stance against radical Islamism and said the UK would "pay a heavy price" for not having intervened in Syria.

british army iraq

The report said the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were "strategic failures" for Britain

The Guardian reported that the study defined British military "failures" since 1991 as peacekeeping in Bosnia in the early 1990s, the 2003 invasion of Iraq and its aftermath, the British deployment in Helmand in southern Afghanistan from 2006 and the air strikes in Libya in 2011.

The study, by the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), also says Britain's war in Iraq radicalised young British muslims, saying there is "no serious disagreement" about this, the paper also reported.

It quoted the study as saying: "Far from reducing international terrorism … the 2003 invasion [of Iraq] had the effect of promoting it.

"The rise of Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) was a reaction to this invasion, and to the consequent marginalisation of Iraq's Sunni population (including de-Ba'athification and army disbandment).

"Today, AQAP and other radical jihadist groups stretching across the Iraqi-Syrian border, pose new terrorist threats to the UK and its allies that might not have existed, at least in this form, had Saddam remained in power."

The report also said that the scale of Saddam Hussein's misdeeds "had been much reduced" before he was overthrown by US-led forces, according to The Independent.

Those fighting Western forces in Afghanistan were "motivated much more by opposition to foreign intervention than by global jihadism", it says.

The report also said: "The wars of 9/11 revealed the limits of British power and strategy-making. Ends, ways and means were not suitably balanced, with predictable results on the ground.

"But more fundamentally, the UK has been unable to exert a strategic effect in theatre, heavily subordinate in both Iraq and Afghanistan to the leadership and commitment of the US."