Isn't it nice to know that the third in line to the throne, Prince Harry, is a killer? Presumably now we can sleep safe in our beds, comforted by the knowledge that hovering over Afghanistan our esteemed and courageous prince is in his Apache attack helicopter with his royal finger on the button, shooting bullets at poor peasants half a mile away and hundreds of feet below.
Worse than Prince Harry boasting of his exploits as a 'Taliban killer' was the manner in which every UK newspaper carried it across their front and inside pages without a word of criticism attached, proud of his martial might. Of course the prince was quick to qualify his boast with the assertion that it is an exercise in "taking a life to save a life." Well, not according to the website Costs of War, which estimates that 15 - 18,000 civilians have been killed in Afghanistan between 2001, when hostilities began, and the end of 2012.
Who's to say that one of the bullets fired by the prince did not find its way into the body of an Afghan civilian, perhaps an old man, woman, or child?
Of course such subtleties are lost amid the eruption of patriotic fervour over the prince's exploits of military derring-do.
On a much wider and more serious level this story, the way in which a member of the so-called royal family felt comfortable in boasting publicly of the fact he had personally killed while on active service, is further evidence of the extent to which a war culture is part and parcel of our society - normalised, sanitised, and in some quarters deified as a motive force of British values and the nation's place in the world. Historians will look back and see this as a consequence of the brave, determined but ultimately failed attempt of the antiwar movement at its height in the run up to the war in Iraq to halt the then Blair's government's determination to join the US as it embarked on an era of war without end.
Not only has it resulted in the disastrous consequences for the victims of Britain's wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and so on, but the outcome of this struggle also heralded a polarised and rightward shift in society at home. It is a shift that has reached its nadir under the current government's policy of making war on poor people both at home and abroad.
In George Orwell's classic novel 1984 he sets out the doublespeak by which a government beguiles its people into acquiescing in barbarism with the inimitable words, "War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength."
The bald truth is that Prince Harry's role in Afghanistan as part of an Apache helicopter crew is a cowardly one. It does not take courage to fly over one of the poorest countries in the world in the most advanced attack helicopter there is shooting at people armed only with small arms from a considerable distance away. Neither is it noble to be part of a military occupation that has only succeeded in perpetuating the suffering of the Afghan people and continues in violation of their dignity, self determination, and human rights.
There is nothing heroic about colonialism and imperialism. It is a cancer in our world, one responsible for huge suffering and the loss of innocent human life on a grand scale. Bad enough that we send young men, the majority from low income communities, to kill and be killed or maimed in the interests of a political establishment that in truth care not one jot about their welfare. But to have this sickening spectacle added to by Prince Harry pimping himself as a poster boy for Apache helicopters is surely a step too far.
Perhaps now some enterprising company will produce a video game in his honour, one in which the object is to kill as many Taliban from the cockpit of an Apache within a certain time frame, losing points every time you mistakenly blast a civilian. Perhaps there will be a new Prince Harry action man produced in time for Christmas. If so they could cover him in different guises. You could have him in his fetching and cool desert fatigues, replete with aviator sunglasses. Another model could have him half naked in his playboy, Vegas mode, while another could have him dressed in the Nazi regalia he sported at a fancy dress do a couple of years back.
His grandmother, the Queen, must be proud to know that her grandson is on the job, killing those pesky Afghans in that pesky country in which British armies throughout history have come unstuck in previous attempt to colonise the ungrateful buggers.
'Cry God for Harry, England and Saint George!'
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