Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Where's our "Prince Harry"?

Normally I have little to no interest in the activities of royal family members in Europe. In fact my disinterest was highlighted the other night at a party, when a friend and I started exchanging trivia questions. It was my turn to come up with a query, and I asked him what category he would like. When he said that I should come up with something having to do with "kings and queens", I drew a complete blank. Although I do have a moderate desire to fill out my knowledge of European history, something deep inside me resists studying the lives of royalty. Perhaps it is the result of the decades of democratic propaganda I have been force-fed while growing up in the United States.

So I have to admit my surprise in being moved to write about a current Prince of England. Diane's kid Harry was recently withdrawn from the Afghanistan theater, after his presence in the English military there made headline news throughout the world. Since December he has been serving on the front lines as a forward air observer, directing missiles to key Taliban targets in the Helmand region. Keep in mind that this 23-year-old kid is third in line for the British throne. Apparently he initially trained to do battle in Iraq, but English authorities put the kibosh on that plan because they figured he would become a high profile target. Harry actually considered leaving the Army after that decision. Apparently he wanted to be treated just like anyone else in the armed forces.

The only way his commanders would deploy the Prince to Afganistan was if the British media agreed to keep his placement out of the public eye. The UK press has been extremely diligent in keeping their promise. Not a word was leaked about his involvement for three entire months. Wondering how the word got out to the rest of us? Apparently American conservative pundit Matt Drudge got his greasy hands on the story, and published it on his exploitation site on the worldwide web. He even went as far as to crow about the exclusive nature of "his reporting". Of course in the meantime he endangered the lives of the Prince, and every single soldier serving alongside of him. It's only common sense that Harry's head would make a notable trophy on the wall of some Taliban extremist. If Drudge had done the same thing to an American politician's son, there would certainly be accusations of treason coming from the Right (unless the malefactor was one of their own).

What's particularly notable about the entire situation is that there is no risk of such a thing happening in the good old United States. If an influential man's child actually ever serves time in uniform, it is in a highly protected position in the rear echelon. No one would rationally expect one among the Bush brood to actually put his/her life on the line for the policy that Dubya has carried out. The same can be said about everyone in his administration and the partisan hacks that still support him. I come into contact all the time with middle and upper-middle class youth that give good lip service to the idea of prosecuting a global war, yet I rarely find any among them that don't blanch at the idea of getting drafted. It is a sad fact that the vast majority of the pro-war faction consists of "chicken hawks".

I would absolutely resist any suggestion that my son go on to fight in a foreign war. But the difference is that I have been consistently against this type of war for the last twenty years. If we were invaded by the regular military of another nation, I would likely consider joining up myself. I see no reason to put my life on the line for a global strategy that only benefits the wealthiest of Americans. I say- let them fight their own damned battles. Instead they exploit the naive patriotism of the lower classes to provide fodder on the front lines. Unfortunately few of these youngsters ever have the opportunity to get the education necessary to understand what they are actually fighting for. I guess (unlike the young Dick Cheney) they just don't have "better things to do", so they might as well be infantry.

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