The defence secretary, Ben Wallace, choked back tears on LBC earlier this week as the Taliban consolidated control in Afghanistan. ‘The big regret for me is that some people won’t get back,’ he said. Between 2003 and 2005, Wallace was overseas director at QinetiQ, the military technology firm created in April 2001 when the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency was privatised. Its revenues are around a billion pounds a year. Wallace’s contradictory roles – as a former senior executive at a company reaping financial rewards from the ongoing ‘war on terror’ and as a senior minister claiming rightly that much is owed by the UK to the people of Afghanistan – reflects a larger contradiction at the heart of the global war economy.
Bill and Melinda Gates have asked for privacy after their divorce announcement, but a storm of attention seems more likely. Interest in their marital arrangements isn’t merely prurient. They are public figures and their personal lives have political ramifications. The urgent question in global health circles is what will happen to their powerhouse foundation in the wake of their split. Large amounts of funding hang in the balance.
If young workers in an advanced capitalist nation wanted to launch a revolution, what skills do they have? Millennials and Generation Z are routinely disparaged as ‘soft’. No matter how hard they toil in underpaid, insecure service and care jobs, they seem to strike many older people as far less tough than their forebears. But war has many theatres. And today, finance is one of them.