Giving an extra £1,000 pounds a year to all the 800,000 British nurses and teachers would cost as much as two months of war in Afghanistan. Brian Eno presented this stunning figure in a speech at the Anti-war Mass Assembly, held in Trafalgar Square on Saturday, October 8th, the tenth anniversary of the war in Afghanistan.
In his speech at Trafalgar Square, Eno points out that the bill that British people are forced to pay by their government for the war amounts to £12m a day. Believe it or not, this means that the overall annual budget of BBC online is equivalent to no more than 24 minutes of war in Afghanistan—a war that is evidenly turning into a bloody, hopeless debacle, as is discussed in The Case for Withdrawal from Afghanistan. Thus, one cannot but feel compelled to ask, as Eno does, whether the money spent to wage war could be used in better ways:
What about youth centres? In the wake of the recent riots you might think that it would be a good idea to invest in anything that would help young people find their feet. For the cost of the war, you could build at least two a day - and those would be top-of-the-line places. Build a bit more modestly, and you could probably manage five or 10 a day.
Eno notes how austerity cuts and military expenditures are two sides of the same medal. Once again, it is the toiling classes, the workers, the poor, who take the brunt of both:
We're constantly being told that these are hard times and we have to tighten our belts, but as far as I can see the belts round the biggest bellies aren't tightening at all. As usual, it's the people at the bottom who suffer - both here and in Afghanistan.
Eno is a contributor to the anti-war anthology Not One More Death, published in 2006 in collaboration with the Stop the War coalition, and followed one year later by the complementary War With No End.
Visit the Stop the War website to read the transcript of Brian Eno's speech in full.