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November 25, 2006

All Ears


It’s as much a “HELLO, MY NAME IS” sticker as it is a news photo.

This image, released by the British Ministry of Defence, shows Tony Blair’s heir apparent meeting with British troops in Basra. The caption says Gordon Brown is “addressing” British Joint Helicopter Forces.  But that’s not what the picture shows.  Instead, he’s all ears. Huddling with the troops almost at ground level, the new spin is: Welcome to the post-Rumsfeld era!

Unfortunately for the Brown offensive, however, there’s far too much dissonance here for him to make an impression.  Instead, the frame is overwhelmed by other things, including the sense of boys playing in a sandbox, and the feeling of “what now?”

(image: AFP/Ministry of Defence.  November 18, 2006.  Basra, Iraq.  Via YahooNews.)

  • axiome

    He chouldn’t actully be strategizing with the troops could he? Like he knows something about it . He’s probably is just addressing the troops . It looks like they where strategizing untill he came along for the photo . my impression is they where probably on the ground for the officer on the left before he came along . Or it’s all just setup which is equally probable .

  • Rafael

    That is, in fact, called a sandbox model. As old as warfare itself (invented by children yet mastered by the adults) my guess is that Brown is been briefed by the commanders on the scene. All eyes are on the briefing officer, the one with the stick/riding crop in hand, unlike when a U.S. VIP shows up, somebody that demands to be the center of attention.
    In many ways it represents a shift away from the Rumfeldian idea of the high-tech “gods-eye-view” of warfare to a more level headed aproach, one that says, warfare, like men, are elemental.
    It is also teh difference between the British approach and the American one. The Brits had their Empire, thank you very much.

  • Rafael

    Sandtable, not sandbox. My mistake.

  • GeorgeF

    @Rafael. Correct, they are discussing a tactical situation at the sand model. And I agree, the Brits have a hell of experience in colonial warfare and they are realistically oriented. From the military point of view I have learned to know the Brits as real professionals. No politician has a chance to get away with them by nonesense talks. There is a brilliant witness to the difference between the British zone in Iraq to the American: The Brits do their patrouilles on feet and with soft caps. And every British soldier going into Iraq is trained in a minimum of Arab language. These guys have to deal with all the difficulties, the Rumsfield “policy” has thrown on them.

  • margaret

    The British were so brilliant as GeorgeF said, that they bought the WMD story and are busy being hammered in Afganhistan, not really having learned anything from their colonial history.

  • GeorgeF

    @ margaret
    Sorry for, but don’t mistake the Britisch military with the government…

  • Northern Observer

    From what I understand the British did not buy the WMD story. Tony Blair decided to buy it and impose it on the UK government. As in, we are going along with the American’s right or wrong.
    Hammered in Afghanistan is too strong. And certainly the non American troops seem to be having a better go of it than the American troops in Afghanistan. But its not good. You are up against true takfiris who happen to have safe bases in Pakistan’s frontiere provinces.

  • ummabdulla

    GeorgeF: “The Brits do their patrouilles on feet and with soft caps”
    I think this is outdated. A while ago, they were so proud of this, but I don’t think this is the case anymore, is it?

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