Thursday, January 04, 2007

War Debts

AOG, London

According to an article on The Times, the UK paid off the last of its Wolrld War II debt to the US on the 31st of December, 2006. According to the article, the Treasury paid cheques totalling £43.5m — equivalent to 94p for every adult — in final settlement of a £1 billion loan taken out in 1945 and worth more than £50 billion today.

Another article on the BBC mentions that the UK still has outstanding debts going back to before the Napoleonic wars. These are called Consol bonds and they appear to hark as far back as 1751. It also mentions that the UK's WWI debt is still largely unpaid. It appears that the UK owed
£886 million which in today's money means £40,000 million pounds.

Though to be fair, loans owed to the UK from that war are still outstanding- something close to £2,300 million pounds at the end of the war. Of course the UK is not the only country which still has war debts.

Apparently, these debts, both owed and outstanding, have not been revised nor payed nor written off since 1934.

According to the Iraq Analysis Group, the UK is currently spending £3 billion per year on its iraqui war effort.

This money could have also been spent thus:

" £3.2 billion spent on education, for example, would be sufficient to fund the recruitment and retention of over 10,300 new teachers for ten years. In health, it would allow the building of around 44 new hospitals. The £6.44 billion Special Reserve represents the entire annual budget of the Department of International Development and would allow a five-fold increase in bilateral aid to Africa. According to UNICEF estimates, £5 billion would fund two years of full immunization for every child in the developing world "

Long term, I cant help but wonder if the UK government really believes that the UK will benefit more from its operations in Iraq than it would from 44 new hospitals or from the work and dedication of over ten thousand teachers.

As for the American war debt, this website is a real eye opener:

I wonder in what century will the UK (never mind the US) stop paying for Iraq and Afghanistan. And I don't just mean financially.

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