A new book released today argues that every family in the UK will have paid £2,000 towards the conflict in Afghanistan, in a war that will cost the nation up to £40 billion by 2020.
Frank Ledwidge, the author of Investment in Blood analyses both the financial and human cost of Britain's involvement in the war. In his book, the former civilian advisor to the British government in Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan states that it has cost the UK at least £15m a day to keep soldiers in the Helmand province since 2006.
He also discusses the human cost of the war and highlights the 2,600 wounded, 5,000 “psychologically injured” and 444 British troops dead.
The total amount spent on the war by 2020 could have paid for the wages of 5,000 police officers and nurses he alleges, or funded free tuition for all students in British higher education for the next ten years.
Al-Qaeda should have never been dealt with primarily as a military response, he argues, and should have instead been considered an intelligence problem.
Investment in Blood, which will be published by Yale University Press next week, highlights that whilst billions of tax payer pounds have been funnelled into the operation in Afghanistan, not “a single al-Qaeda operative or 'international terrorist' who could conceivably have threatened the United Kingdom is recorded as having been killed by Nato forces in Helmand.”
Speaking to The Guardian, Ledwidge said: “Once the last British helicopter leaves a deserted and wrecked Camp Bastion, Helmand - to which Britain claimed it would bring 'good governance' - will be a fractious narco-state occasionally fought over by opium barons and their cronies.
“There are no new lessons here, only one rather important old precept: before you engage in a war, understand the environment you are going into, precisely and realistically what it is you are trying to achieve and will it be worth the cost? In other words have a strategy.”