Cry 'God for
Harry, England and St George'
In their acclaim for this new Prince Hal, the media have once
again made themselves the useful idiots of disastrous military
By George Galloway
Guardian" -- - As
the peerless John Pilger
put it, the invasion of Iraq would have been impossible without
the supine connivance of the British media. The BBC was as much
a part of operations as the Black Watch.
Five years on and a further instance of the kind of collusion
that embeds journalism in the sewer of state spin. Peter Wilby
says the media were "suckered", but that's a charitable
The case for the media
keeping mum about Prince Harry's deployment to Afghanistan
is straightforward enough - protecting not only his security but
that of those around him. If that were all there was to it, then
there would be little to consider, except the extraordinary
double standard of the British media, which means that some
people's safety and privacy is deemed worthy of protection and
But a moment's thought should puncture the
gushing, sentimental story of the media and the MoD uniting
in the national interest - reporters and royalty, prince and
paparazzi standing together against a common foe.
At the very least, news of this collusion has made life very
difficult for reporters, especially conscientious ones, in the
BBC and other news organisations. Many people across the world
already believed the BBC to be complicit in the British
government's crimes of war. Now the corporation
has acknowledged that it colluded with the state to suppress
and manipulate the news.
How will that improve the standing of British correspondents
abroad? Or their safety.
But collusion certainly didn't end there. The media is ever a
hungry beast, and it was inconceivable that it would fast for
three months without the promise of bacchanalian orgy at the end
And so the flipside of 10 weeks of radio silence is wall-to-wall
Harry, as the pin-up of the armed forces, one of the lads, full
of derring-do, a British hero on Afghanistan's plains straight
out of Tennyson or Kipling.
For a military adventure which, now, even the US's senior
concedes is staring into the abyss, this could not have come
at a better time.
Over the last few months, I've asked at public meetings, on my
radio show and on walkabouts, why people think we are in
Afghanistan, what would define the "victory" which would allow
us to withdraw with laurels. Our
ambassador in Kabul - a double-barrel who might also have
walked out of 19th-century page - says we are going to be there
for 30 or 40 years.
Other countries, wisely, are none too phlegmatic about that
prospect. Condoleezza Rice's last visit to Europe was part of
the US's effort to put pressure on other Nato counties to commit
more troops to the Afghan quagmire.
Then comes the scoop of the young prince forsaking Boujis,
despatched to that place beyond the Khyber pass by his sovereign
grandmother, and enduring hardship with cheerful Tommy. There
were naturally a few touches to bring it into this century -
instead of fixing bayonets,
we're informed he helped bring down air strikes with a
handheld computer, which could easily pass for a video game; no
Latin motto on his cap, instead a psychotic, dehumanised epigram
that could have come from Travis in Taxi Driver: "We do bad
things to bad people."
All sections of the establishment have gained from this superbly
well-executed piece of theatre (incidentally, I'm not doubting
Harry's personal bravery, it's just that that is not the issue):
the army has a star; the BBC and Fleet Street appear to have a
heart; and the royal family have a newfound source of capital at
just the time that the circus that is the Diana inquest heaps
more and more ordure in their direction. Out with the images of
partying in a Nazi uniform, in with the young warrior who lost
his mother when young but who has now grown up.
So the greatest collusion of all by the media is in perpetuating
the myths of this war and in helping to craft the perfect
It's better than
Kitchener's "Your country needs you." Skilfully and
chillingly, it speaks to this century and through the most
It is going to play an enduring role in prolonging this futile
adventure, and perhaps starting others, in a country which
British armies have three times before staggered out of in
defeat, leaving so many of their number behind. No one, not even
Alexander the Great has successfully occupied Afghanistan; and
Harry, whatever you think about him, is certainly no Alexander
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