Back in the summer of 1879, the commanding general of the United States Army, William T. Sherman, had the pleasure of addressing a graduation ceremony at the Michigan Military Academy.
“You don’t know the horrible aspects of war”, he informed the gathered cadets. “I’ve been through two wars and I know. I’ve seen cities and homes in ashes. I’ve seen thousands of men lying on the ground, their dead faces looking up at the skies.”
“I tell you”, he ended with a theatrical flourish, “war is Hell!”
Well, quite. But it’s also expensive as hell.
According to a Royal United Services Institute report from 2014, the United Kingdom has spent £35 billion on wars since the collapse of the Soviet Union, with the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq costing an eye-watering £29 billion.
These wars—all of which have been strategic failures—were paid for by deficit spending. Pretty irresponsible stuff, wouldn’t you agree?
So here’s a novel idea: if Her Majesty’s Government and Parliament deem it necessary to declare war on a foreign government or send British troops to fight in foreign lands, then a 5% tax increase should be imposed across the board, including Income Tax, National Insurance contributions, Value Added Tax (VAT), Corporation Tax, Capital Gains Tax, excise duty, and Stamp Duty.
After all, if something is worth fighting for, it’s surely worth paying any price, bearing any burden, and meeting any hardship. If not, maybe we should consider taking our finger off the trigger.
To sign our petition calling for the imposition of a ‘war tax’ should Parliament vote to authorise military action abroad, click here.