$250,000 Fighting Fund: The prince and the war on paupers


It has to be one of the most unbelievable stories of the century: New Idea, a magazine that trades on gossip about royals and other celebrities, is blamed for exposing Prince Harry's deployment in the British military intervention in Afghanistan. It is about as believable as the plot of Mark Twain's The Prince and the Pauper, in which a young prince swaps places with a street lad to see what life is like in "Paupersville".

Prince Harry was rushed back to the safety of Britain and the mass media was flooded with slick videos and glossy pics of the Prince "fighting the Taliban". After a bit of finger wagging at New Idea's editors for putting the prince in mortal danger, the story settled into a familiar fairy tale: brave prince puts himself on the line in battle against the forces of darkness.

The original source of this "leak" was probably the military and the British royal family, desperate for a break from endless reruns of Princess Di death stories. It was another PR job for British feudal relics. But more insidiously it sold the idea that the war on Afghanistan is a just war, a good war.

Of course that is a dirty lie. As one Australian officer accidentally let slip, "We're fighting poor peasant boys". According to the Human Development Index there are only four other countries in world poorer than Afghanistan. It is being occupied by an international military force that includes the richest and most powerful states in the world, such a the US, Britain and Australia. What are these foreign armies in Afghanistan protecting? A puppet government that is a coalition of opium warlords, feudal chiefs and right-wing religious fundamentalists. Opium production has more than doubled since the US-led invasion.

While there is no shortage of shots of Prince Harry in action in Afghanistan, you never see the bodies of the people he's reportedly been shooting at.

Human rights organisations and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) have been trying to obtain information about the scale of civilian casualties in the war in Afghanistan but a full cover up is in place.

"Since US troops first set foot in Afghanistan in 2001, the Defense Department has gone to unprecedented lengths to control and suppress information about the human costs of war," said Anthony D. Romero, director of the ACLU in April last year.

The rough estimates that have been attempted point to a civilian casualty toll many times that of the September 11 terror bombing in the US that is used to justify this war. An eye for an eye? No, make that 10 or 100. And they tell us this is a war against barbarism!

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