Life

Leona O'Neill: War is hell for those outside the 'war rooms'

New year, new war: we're barely into 2020 and President Trump appears to be pushing America and its allies into a military clash with Iran. Funny how there's always money for a war and never enough to help those whose lives they shatter, writes Leona O'Neill

Anti-war protesters outside the White House last year – their message apparently fell on deaf ears

LOOK at us, exactly seven days into the new year and the threat of World War Three is already hanging over our heads. You'd think that in 2020 war has all but gone out of fashion, but no, Donald Trump doesn't think so: his New Year's resolution was not to lose weight, ditch the sunbeds or give up the smokes, but to poke the Iranian bear – a big bear who just happens to have the capabilities to build nuclear weapons and is a big mate of Russia and China.

Trump authorised the drone-assisted assassination of Iran's most powerful military commander Qassem Soleimani, then took to Twitter – apparently now a modern era war arena where battles are started in statuses, ramped up, re-tweeted and fought – to threaten to strike 52 targets, some apparently civilian sites, if Iran retaliated.

The Iranians fought back saying "we can attack the White House itself" in an emergency meeting as Tehran promised retaliation. Meanwhile, in America itself, security was upped in cities such as New York, Washington and Boston as the threat of attack grew. Families across America went into panic mode. Those who have sons, brothers, daughters and sisters in the military and ordinary civilians in Iran said their prayers that loved ones would not pay the ultimate price for men in suits flexing their muscles.

President Trump, who is much more familiar with the reality TV way of doing things – get people to the edge of their seats to boost ratings and so that they come back for more next week – obviously saw this as some manner of cliffhanger.

As scenes were played out in the Iranian parliament where politicians chanted "death to America", America and indeed the world went into a state of utter panic waiting to see what might happen next and if they should bother paying their bills or moving maybe to a cave in the hills for safety.

Trump pulled out of a nuclear agreement in 2018 and since then Iran has taken several actions in violation of the deal, involving the production of materials that could be used to create nuclear weapons. Now the Iranians are plotting their 'next nuclear step', so the end of the world could very well be nigh.

Regardless of whether this war is a deflection of impeachment proceedings or something else, the reality is that it won't be the men and women around Trump's table making the decisions who will be going to the frontlines or being targeted on the ground. It will be ordinary American and Iranian civilians who will suffer in war: it will be the thousands of military personnel in these far off countries who will be brought home in coffins.

And if the UK, always thought of as America's little sister, joins forces, then soldiers closer to home will die too.

War is big business and makes a lot of money for a chosen few people – those involved in the manufacturing of war machines and weapons – and that is why it is still so popular.

It's quite bizarre when you look around at society these days, around the world, and see that governments have no money to deal with poverty, unemployment, crime, health and education issues, but always have cash to go into battle. We can't feed the poor, but we can fund a war. We can drop bombs on countries and, when families flee for their lives, we can't afford to look after them – but we can still buy and continue to drop the bombs.

God knows what kind of world and society we are handing to our children. Perhaps they will do a better job than us.

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