Wednesday, May 02, 2007

A Prince of a Soldier

At first, I was a bit torn about how to react to the news that Britain's Prince Harry, third in line for the throne, will be deployed to Iraq soon.

On the one hand, I've always said that if our leaders children were the ones on the front lines, our war decisions would very different. I admire the courage of this young man to not hide behind his title, but to fight for what he believes is right (even if I disagree with the war itself).

But are the royal family really the "leaders" of the United Kingdom? I'm an American, so I can't say with full accuracy what the English think, but it seems they're more symbolic and cultural leaders than political ones.

And as symbolic as the royal family is, this is not just any prominent son that we are talking about. It's not just young Harry's life that's on the line here, but the lives of every other soldier that is deployed with this attractive moving target.

In this situation, being a symbolic leader is far more dangerous than being a political one. And some British army chiefs have warned against his deployment as a "potential nightmare":
"When it comes to a Prince this is not just a matter of humanity for operational concerns, it has a potentially big strategic importance," said Mr Reid. "I'm not talking about the death, but the capture and so on."
As much as the democrat (small "d") in me would love to see somebody of Harry's stature on the front lines with the average soldier, I have to agree with Mr. Reid. This is a strategic decision, with possible major repercussions on how this war is fought.

I don't think it's worth the risks. Any positive spin for the war effort by Harry's willingness to go has been accomplished (for better or worse). It's time to end this dangerous game and ground this prince's ambitions. More soldiers do not need to risk their lives so that this privileged young man can prove he's warrior of the people.

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