From Nazi uniform to army fatigues -- can Prince Harry rehabillitate the war in Afghanistan?
The Royal Family has traditionally dressed up in uniforms to pretend that we’re all in this together. That’s why Prince Harry’s return is being so widely publicised.
By Lindsey German
SO PRINCE HARRY is back in Afghanistan. Fresh from a strenuous summer celebrating the Jubilee, watching the Olympics and partying in Las Vegas, he is now engaged in flying Apache helicopters in Camp Bastion.
Rehabillitating the reputation of the third in line to the throne has been a full time task for many years -- his most notorious fall from grace being when he dressed up as a Nazi for a friend's party.
No doubt the royal publicity machine and Harry's military commanders will hope that this time he isn't caught on video calling Asian colleagues in the army "our little Paki friend" or using racist terms like "raghead", as he was in 2006.
Unlike his last tour of duty in the war zone, when there was complete press silence over his presence while he was there, this time his return is heralded in a blaze of publicity. Compliant media, including the Guardian, are happy to write sympathetic pieces, in return for future (no doubt sympathetic) coverage when he leaves in four months time.
No doubt The Sun will have no end of "Prince Harry fights Taliban" headlines, like it did following the last time he was in Afghanistan.
The aim will not just be to restore Harry's much tarnished image as the "People's Prince". It is more than anything intended to rehabillitate a war in which the British army is killing and being killed for no other purpose than to save the face of the politicians and generals who are waging it. For them it is preferable for the death and destruction to continue, rather than admit what is obvious to all -- the war is lost
The coverage ignores the real facts about the war. All the concerns are for Harry’s safety and about his supposed skills with helicopters. It is said that Camp bastion is safe enough for him to be stationed there.
Which implies that a lot of Afghanistan is not. Only last week the US military suspended its training programme -- supposedly the lynch pin of its exit strategy -- because there have been so many attacks on occupation soldiers by the Afghan police and army. The number killed this year in these so-called "green on blue" attacks is already beyond the total for 2011. In addition, hundreds of Afghan police have been sacked as part of a tightening of security -- so high is the concern about the loyalties of the Afghan recruits.
While the Afghans who are supposed to be taking over from Prince Harry and his fellow soldiers in two years time are currently engaged in killing them, the situation in Afghanistan hardly matches the description by military, government and media alike. They insist good progress is being made -- slowly but surely -- towards making Afghanistan secure enough for the occupiers to be able to declare some sort of "victory".
That is a lie of gigantic proportions. Recently the number of US troops killed in the country passed the 2000 figure. The misery of Afghans continues unabated after decades of war -- apart from the small corrupt elite who have made a fortune out of it under the watchful eye of the Nato occupiers.
The Afghans fear air strikes, night raids, dislocation and of course injury and death. None of this is mentioned in news of Prince Harry’s deployment, which it is assumed can only be for the good.
Nor is any mention made of the opposition to war which is so widespread in Britain and the US. Around two thirds of people want the troops out within a year, not more of them sent in to continue a war which is unwanted and unjustified.
It is hard to see this sort of coverage as anything but the crudest war propaganda. The government and military hope to gain an Olympics' "bounce" -- after British troops unsurprisingly looked good when they were drafted in to bail out G4S -- the private security firm that turned the Games organisation into such a fiasco.
Whether it's the Olympics' bounce or the high profile of soldier-boy Prince Harry, the aim is to allow the politicians and generals to carry on promoting the war in the face of all evidence which says it should be ended immediately.
The government, media and establishment always tell us that any war they are fighting is a just war. The Royal Family has traditionally dressed up in uniforms to pretend that we’re all in this together. That is why Harry’s return is being so widely publicised.
But he like all the other foreign troops should be making the journey in reverse: back to their own country.