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Ear to the Ground

Brown Holds His Ground as Troops Die

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Posted on Jul 13, 2009
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AP / Matt Dunham

The coffin of British Army Maj. Sean Birchall is carried by military personnel during his funeral in London last week. Birchall, of the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards, was killed in Afghanistan.

Britain’s Prime Minister Gordon Brown defended his government’s policy in Afghanistan after eight British soldiers were killed over the weekend. In the past two weeks, 15 U.K. servicemen have died, making the total death toll for British military personnel in Afghanistan greater than the Iraq toll, 179. As a result, Brown and his ministers have been under increasing criticism by the MPs.

The Guardian:

Gordon Brown today delivered a robust defence of government policy in Afghanistan amid signs that the cross-party consensus on the issue is starting to break down.

In a statement to the Commons, the prime minister said that helicopter capacity in Afghanistan had almost doubled over the last two years and that commanders on the ground were satisfied that they had the manpower they needed.

But David Cameron, the Tory leader, said that in reality there had been “no increase in helicopter capacity at all” because the number of troops in Afghanistan who needed them had doubled since 2006.

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By Sepharad, July 13, 2009 at 11:07 pm Link to this comment

PSmith—Brown, black and yellow people kill brown, black and yellow people too. There have been very violent non-white empires in the past, though not so much in the 19th-21st centuries. It always seems to come down to economics, limited resources, power. 

Also think class, religion, nationalism etc. still enters into it, in many of the countries.

The good news may be that our days as an empire are winding down. What a relief to be a second or third-rate power.

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By Sepharad, July 13, 2009 at 4:23 pm Link to this comment

PSmith, thanks for the humorous takes on the British Empire. (I don’t agree with Kipling’s imperialist-based sentiments but still find his writing, particularly short stories and poetry, irresistable.)

I think the Brits are in Afghanistan for the same reason most Westerners are—fear of the threat of terrorists bombing their mass transit system, flying planes into buildings, etc. The roots of terror may or may not be affected by what is going on in Afghanistan.

Terror is not a simplistic phenonema; yesterday’s NYTimes carried a lengthy, interesting article about young men among Somalian refugees who have been in America a long time—many since childhood. A small number of them are returning to Somalia as fighters, including a suicide bomber, some on different sides in Somalia’s chaotic clan-based society and some clearly opposed to Ethiopian Christians in their country. No one knows if they will focus their Islamic anger at America or not but it seems not so likely. One young man, a high achiever in an American college when he went back to be a jihadi in Somalia, was asked by one of the many young Somalians to contact him on his Facebook whether he would come back and bomb America. He responded, “No. Why would I do that? My mom might be walking down the street.”

People are more complicated than we think, whether “we” or leftists or rightists or whatever religion, etc.

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By Mary Ann McNeely, July 13, 2009 at 12:21 pm Link to this comment

The English, like the Americans, get an enormous, long lasting hard-on through the Viagra of imperialism and killing lesser peoples.  The rat Gordon Brown, like the rat Tony Blair, has now grafted himself onto Obama’s backside and they will go down together.

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