Sunday, March 02, 2008

The example set by Prince Harry

By Walter Haan

This past week we learned that Prince Harry, third in line to the British throne, has spent the last 10 weeks in Afghanistan serving with other British troops. The British establishment and media had an agreement not to blow Prince Harry's cover while he was there so no reports appeared in Britain or elsewhere about the prince's service for those 10 weeks. The idea was to protect him and the men he served with, as he would obviously be a high profile target. Then an Australian magazine followed by the Drudge Report exposed the Prince and where he was. I say was because he has since been pulled out of Afghanistan. Harry's secret service is a huge publicity coup for Buckingham Palace.

Back home in the United States, no one from the families that run this country and got us into Iraq and Afghanistan serve in those countries. The Bush twins, Jenna and Barbara, could have made trips to our troops in those countries for morale purposes, for example, but they didn't do it. Actually the Bush girls have been under the radar for most of the Bush presidency. So no one from the President's, Vice President's, leaders of Congress families have done anything remotely like what Prince Harry did aside from Virginia Senator Jim Webb's son who did serve in Iraq.

There is such a gap in this country between the rulers and the ruled. President Bush and his government order men and women into war zones, sometimes based on actual lies as to why our troops are needed there. But our American rulers do not walk the walk, they just talk the talk. They send your family members to Iraq and Afghanistan but make damned sure none of their family members go. What a country.

That is what makes Prince Harry so remarkable. He wanted to go. He wanted to serve alongside the ordinary soldiers of Great Britain and share their hardships.

I will give Jenna Bush some credit though. She is getting married later this year and insisted on a smaller wedding at the Bush ranch in Texas, as opposed to the White House wedding her mother wanted for Jenna. I guess that Jenna decided it would be unseemly to have a glitzy White House wedding as 130,000 American troops were risking their lives overseas. Her mother was visibly disappointed about that.

But then most Americans are now visibly disappointed in both President and Mrs. Bush for their initiating and supporting a war based on lies that has resulted in almost 4,000 American deaths and, perhaps, a million Iraqi deaths. They are just so out of touch with the common American family and its problems. Bush said last week that he didn't see a recession coming. He may be the only person in the USA that doesn't see that.

On Friday I had my six month physical exam at the VA. On line at the pharmacy I was talking with the vets around me and heard what a hard time some of them were having. The vet in front of me talked about working at the post office as a freelancer. He can only work so many hours and the reason that there are so many like him at the post office is so the post office doesn't have to pay them benefits. He is a Vietnam veteran and talked also about age discrimination and the idea out there that all Vietnam vets are on drugs, thus preventing them from being hired. The vet behind me piped up that he had faced all of that and was ready to give it all up, including life, to get away from the pain of it all.

The leaders of this country would never get together with veterans or other common folk like that to really listen to what is bothering them. But across the pond the Brits know that Prince Harry understands from experience what British troops face in Afghanistan because he volunteered to be with them. There has got to be comfort in that.--Copyright 2008 by Walter Haan,


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