Other-ising Afghan ‘chess pieces’

IssueFebruary - March 2023
News by PN staff

Afghanistan was a major topic of media debate in January, but not because of the humanitarian catastrophe there, or the way that the West has contributed to the economic crisis, including by ‘freezing’ (stealing) Afghanistan’s foreign reserves.

Right-wing newspapers were upset that the younger son of the new king of the UK had ‘boasted’ in his new book, Spare, of killing 25 suspected Afghan insurgents during his tour of duty in Afghanistan as an Apache helicopter pilot.

The outrage was not over the killing of 25 people in an illegal war, but over the public statement of the number.

Time magazine commented: ‘It is perhaps the only major revelation to emerge from Spare that has clear real-world implications beyond the international sport of royal watching.... [E]xperts say that Prince Harry’s comments also get at something deeper about how service members process the violence that they experience in war.’

Harry Windsor wrote in Spare: ‘You can’t kill people if you think of them as people.... They were chess pieces removed from the board.... I’d been trained to “other-ize” them, trained well. On some level, I recognise this learned detachment as problematic. But I also saw it as an unavoidable part of soldiering.’

Topics: Afghanistan