"It's very nice to be a sort of normal person for once, I think this is about as normal as I'm ever going to get."
- Prince Harry on his time in Helmand Province in Afghanistan.
The BBC reported these words with approval. It’s nice to know that this is what is considered normal for a young man in the UK. I guess it is normal to send 23 year olds to join an illegal occupation army. It is normal to call in air strikes (this was Harry’s job) to drop 1000-pound bombs on villages killing and destroying men, women, children, animals. It is normal to go on foot patrol in an occupied country and look down with contempt on the poor people of the country and it is normal to feel the hatred emanating from the people of the occupied country.
I am sure that Prince Harry feels terribly elated and uplifted by his 10 weeks in Helmand where he did his duty in the great Western “humanitarian” enterprise to spread democracy and bring development to Afghanistan. Did he ever wonder why NATO is losing the war in Afghanistan? Did he ever wonder why the resistance is getting popular support? Did he ever think of why opium production in Afghanistan has reached record levels since the US and NATO occupied the country? Did he ever look at the suppressed women in burkas and wonder what happened to all the promises of “liberating women” which was one of the so-called humanitarian reasons given by the US for attacking Afghanistan? Or was he there just to have a “normal” time with the blokes, kick around a football, have a couple of beers, try to push start an abandoned motorbike and have a fun time interspersed with calling in air strikes to kill a few more Afghans?
Perhaps this is what is recommended for the “gap year”. Take a mini-break, go to Afghanistan (or Iraq or wherever), have a fun time with the blokes, kill a few locals and be back to the cool life in the UK feeling fulfilled that you are a “normal” bloke now. Such an experience will surely stand you in good stead for the rest of your life.
Faheem Hussain is Visiting Professor of Physics at the School of Science and Engineering, Lahore University of Management Sciences, Lahore, Pakistan.