Prince Harry is not going to Iraq after all. His handlers in the British military say it would be too dangerous; he’d be a target. And it would force them to focus on his safety, distracting them from their own military objectives.
Too bad. We were kind of looking forward to it. And we know the neo-cons must be disappointed too.
We liked the idea because it reminded us of the glory days of the Greco-Roman empires, when young men from noble families served in the front ranks…and earned their place in society by actively defending the empire and crushing its enemies.
In ancient Greece, it was the most experienced and most senior men who stood in the first rank. They met the enemy face to face, slashing and stabbing until one or the other dropped to the ground and was killed.
Rome sent its young aristocrats to the furthest reaches of the empire, where they earned their laurels in chilly outposts, fighting fierce barbarians, whom neither gave quarter nor asked for any. If they were lucky and skillful, they came back to Rome in triumph, like Caesar, dragging Vercingetorix in chains. If they were unlucky or unworthy, they fell into a hole somewhere and were never heard from again.
The neo-cons liked the idea of Prince Harry in Iraq because, first, it was not them. And second, because it flattered their illusions. They see the war in Iraq as part of a great Clash of Civilizations, as the dreamy Samuel Huntington put it. They see it as a continuation of the Great Crusades, when the noble kings and princes of Europe, raised armies and rode into battle against the infidel. Richard the Lionheart had done it. The German emperor, Frederick Barbarossa, had done it. Why not Harry?
But we must be late in the imperial cycle. We can’t think of a prominent neo- con who has volunteered for Iraq duty. Nor even the son or daughter of one. Instead, they work for hedge funds, government think tanks and military contractors.
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