New Internationalist

First Madeleine Albright, now Prince Harry: the strange world of humanitarian awards


Photo by An Honorable German under a CC Licence.

Humanitarian awards are surely taking on a whole new meaning. The end of April brought the obscene announcement that former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, a woman prepared to sacrifice children by proxy, was to be awarded America’s highest honour, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, for her role as a long-time champion of democracy and human rights around the world.

In the same 24 hours, an announcement was made that Britain’s Prince Harry was to receive a special award for his ‘humanitarian work.’

The Distinguished Humanitarian Leadership award ‘recognizes outstanding achievement’ and is presented annually by the Atlantic Council. Prince Harry and his brother, Prince William, were jointly nominated, and Harry travelled to Washington to accept on behalf of both on 7 May.

Madeleine Albright’s latest honour for her services to humanity has been awarded to others who compete admirably with her dedication. They include such peerless war mongers as Henry Kissinger, Donald Rumsfeld, General Colin Powell – whose pack of lies to the United Nations in February, 2003 initiated Iraq’s destruction – and former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair whose offices and officers provided those lies.

Human dove of peace, Dick Cheney has also been a recipient, as has his Israeli counterpart, Shimon Perez and General Norman ‘No One Left to Kill’ Schwarzkopf is yet another honoree.

Fellow recipient of the latest award with Albright is Bob Dylan. Funny world.

Prince William and Harry are both in the armed forces (between social engagements). In a career move that has been dubbed by many ‘a cynical PR stunt,’ William flies naval rescue helicopters. Seemingly it no longer looks good for a future king to play a part in killing people. Harry clearly faces no such trying constraints.

Deployed to Helmand Province, Afghanistan, in 2007, he reportedly lurked safely, deep in a bunker, out of harms way, surrounded by a phalanx of armed Royal Protection Officers while playing at being a Forward Air Controller who remotely (in all senses of the word) guided in aircraft to attack the locals.

There is not only an irony, but a terrible deviance, about a supremely privileged young man, whose entire upbringing has been in palaces, castles and the most elite of schools, calling in aircraft to destroy peasant farmers, in remote, poverty-stricken villages. If Albright sacrificed children by proxy, the Prince, arguably, killed them by proxy.

There is a further irony in that his ‘child within’ knows loss. At thirteen he walked behind his mother’s, Princess Diana’s, coffin as it was transported for her funeral after her death in Paris in an appalling car crash with her lover Dodi Fayed.

Harry was hurriedly whisked out of Afghanistan for his safety in January 2008, once the media had exposed he was there. Back home he and his brother have their own households, with flunkies to provide, and an aristocratic titled adviser to oversee their lives.

That the two Princes have established a charity to aid needy children in Africa while Harry has been involved in ending fledgling lives in Afghanistan – where he is due to return – is surely a near schizophrenic perversity.

The Atlantic Council presentation for the pair’s humanitarian endeavours, however, is ‘for efforts in championing’ other soldiers, many of whom were involved in invading and killing in two decimated lands which posed no threat to anyone, let alone far away Britain and America.

Prince Harry is being recognized (with the Distinguished Humanitarian Leadership award) for support to forces charities like Walking With The Wounded, ABF The Soldiers’ Charity and Help For Heroes.

A St James’s Palace spokesperson commented: ‘Prince Harry will use the award to pay tribute to British and American veterans’ charities for their achievements in helping to rehabilitate wounded servicemen and women, and to reintegrate those who have served in the armed forces into civilian life.’

There will be no such helping and rehabilitation for their Afghan or Iraqi victims.

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