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Libya could cost us the Falklands.

Byline: Tony Parsons

THE bill for Libya is pounds 260million and counting.

So that's no money for cancer patients, care homes for the disabled, the police, coast guards, lollipop ladies, the armed forces - but pounds 260million to stuff down Colonel Gaddafi's toilet.

And that is just the bill so far - a final figure of pounds 1billion is being tossed around.

Sounds like a conservative estimate to me. But it is all for a good cause - protecting innocent civilians, right? Does that include the innocent civilians that NATO has blown to bits? David Cameron has wasted pounds 260million in Libya but because of his cuts to the armed forces, Argentina could take back the Falklands tomorrow.

Cameron wanted his Falklands moment - a quick, showy military victory won at the expense of somebody else's son, somebody else's husband.

And he may yet find the Falklands figure prominently on his CV.

With the touchiness that always emerges when he is rattled, Cameron said last week that the Falklands would remain British forever - "full stop, end of story". Not quite.

Maggie Thatcher had ships and men to send to the Falklands nearly 30 years ago.

But Cameron has sent the aircraft carriers to the scrapyard and too many ex-servicemen to the dole queue. If he is forced to fight for the Falklands, what's he going to use - hot air? What a bitter irony it would be if the Falklands became the Malvinas on David Cameron's watch.

What rough justice it would be if, because of his cuts to the armed forces, some cynical Argentinian politician decided to send the boys in.

The British people do not care about Libya.

But they care deeply about the Falklands because many of us remember that they were won back at a high cost.

It was an easy victory for Thatcher - it was not easy for our fighting men.

Does our Prime Minister have any idea how many British servicemen gave their lives in the Falklands? As he thought that we were the "junior partner" of America during the Battle of Britain - when in fact the US was not at war, because Pearl Harbour had yet to happen - then I doubt it.

For Cameron's information, 257 British servicemen died for the Falklands. Three Falkland Island women were killed. Seven hundred and seventy-seven British servicemen were wounded - many with terrible burns that they will carry to their graves.

Despite what the likes of Thatcher, Tony Blair and Cameron may believe, there is no easy victory in war. But then Cameron knows nothing about history, combat or what a gun sounds like when it is fired in anger.

If Cameron had ever seen the effect of one single bullet on a man's face, we would not be in Libya.

Cameron's Old Etonian arrogance can look impressive when he is making a speech to the Tory party conference without notes - but that same arrogance looks like pathetic, preening stupidity when he is telling senior military figures to shut up.

Top generals are increasingly critical about Cameron's military strategy - or lack of it.

But told Britain's role in Libya is unsustainable, Cameron simply barks: "You do the fighting and I'll do the talking."

Libya can never be won. The Falklands can certainly be lost - indeed, there is not much we could do if Argentina ever decided to take them back.

And if that happens, watch David Cameron's career sink faster than the Belgrano.

A Prime Minister can play the great war leader, as Thatcher and Blair tried to do, or he can save the pennies by slashing the defence budget.

Cameron is attempting to do both and it will be his ruin.

And cost Britain much - in both blood and money.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Geographic Code:6LIBY
Date:Jun 25, 2011
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