Monday, March 3, 2008

Prince Harry - the short version

While the media has been teeming with stories on the prince, few have discussed this aspect:

During his deployment, Harry's battle group has been responsible for around 30 enemy kills, a defense ministry official said, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with department policy. ... (From AP article in International Herald Tribune - here.)
This has prompted some commentators to state the obvious fears:
London, Feb 29 (ANI): Prince Harry killed up to 30 of the enemy on his frontline Afghanistan tour by directing no less than three air strikes, thus inviting Taliban fanatics to track him down. ...

[An anonymous source] added that even if Harry is at home, he could remain a target for Taliban sympathisers.

“Every single person that supports them will be trying to slot me,” Harry said. (Link to Asia News International.)
I will only subject the reader to one more view on the prince fiasco. Spiked's Mick Hume:
The phoney war over Harry of Afghanistan

There has been an almighty furore over the deal between the British media and the Ministry of Defence to keep secret Prince Harry’s role on the frontline in Afghanistan. But this is a phoney war of words in which both sides are firing blanks.

On one side, despite what defenders of the deal claim, there was no justification for a free media agreeing to such a pact of silence. Sending Prince Harry to Afghanistan was a PR operation, not a military necessity. There are already far too many restrictions on freedom of expression in the UK, without the media volunteering to keep military matters secret.

On the other side, contrary to what the shriller critics claim, this exceptional pact is unlikely to be the tip of an iceberg of state-sponsored secrecy. ...

The most oft-repeated argument is that the pact of silence was necessary to protect the safety and security of the prince and his fellow troops. To which an obvious response might be: if that is your concern, then don’t send him (or them) to fight a war in somebody else’s country in the first place.

The implication of this argument is that sending Harry to Afghanistan was a military imperative for which special arrangements had to be made. It has been talked about almost as if it were on a par with the restrictions imposed on reporting operations during the Second World War. But shipping one prince to a desert is slightly different from the Allied forces’ secret D-Day invasion.

This was not a military operation, but a PR stunt for the government, the army and the royals. ...

What the authorities wanted was the right images to boost support for the army and the war – and for a prince with a talent for attracting dubious publicity. That was why military chiefs admitted last week that, even if they could only have got him on to the front line for one day before the story broke, it would have been worth it. In other words, it was a ‘secret’ photo opportunity. Media complicity in PR operations of all sorts is a more contemporary problem than old-fashioned state censorship.

In their desperate efforts to defend such an indefensible deal, some top news editors have even tried to claim it was no big deal by comparing the pact of silence to the way that the media has previously agreed to police requests not to report kidnappings. We were not aware that Prince Harry had been shanghaied by a press gang and packed off to Afghanistan against his will. If anybody has been hijacked in this affair it was not Harry.

The fact remains that, when we are struggling for freedom of expression, the media should not be volunteering to stay silent about stories of public interest. ... (link)

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