The wit and wisdom of Des Browne



His manner is astonishingly portentous and self-regarding, with phrase succeeding phrase in such a manner that it often seems the rolling tide of cliché and prevarication will never come to an end.

There is a school of thought according to which if Mr Browne has any military value at all, it is as a tape recording to be played in order to make prisoners crack and promise to tell all if only the machine is turned off.

But like a desert scattered with precious stones, so Mr Browne's speech every so often throws up statements of such sublime banality that a book entitled The Wit and Wisdom of Des Browne, or even a comedy in the manner of Ionesco, could be formed entirely from these gems.

We first noticed Mr Browne's comic potential when he told the committee, in reply to a question about whether American operations in Baghdad will produce greater Iranian pressure on Basra: "If you press a balloon here it may swell there."

Moments later, Mr Browne added: "We already knew this." He went on to tell us that Iraq has "always been on the border of Iran".

The simplicity of these statements has a touch of greatness about it. As Mr Browne got into his stride he told the committee: "I'll answer this question in some detail but it's not exhaustive."

The superfluousness of the words "but it's not exhaustive" could not be bettered.

Mr Browne will doubtless claim he was being ironical when he told the committee: "I accept that Basra and Baghdad are part of the same country." But if so it was the insulting irony of a man determined not to do them the honour of telling them anything. Soon he was informing MPs: "This is of course a difficult and challenging environment," to which he added: "The fact of the matter is we are where we are."


His interview on Radio 4's PM program, immediately after the Select Committee's meeting referred to in Gimson's sketch, was equally banal. It may be available as a podcast on the BBC website if I knew where to look. On second thoughts, it was so lacking in content that they probably didn't bother.


War Hero
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Blogg said:
He went on to tell us that Iraq has "always been on the border of Iran".

"I accept that Basra and Baghdad are part of the same country."

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!!!!!!! This man is in charge of us! [Pauses for breath]

Why, oh why, do we tolerate these non-entities?

I, for one, am not in favour of a military coup, despite what mrs utg has to listen to every time I watch the news. However, I do have to grip the tables with rage when I hear SoS pushing out this dribble and select committees listening to it. Why was Browne not thrown out of the Committee Room in several pieces, with the Chairman saying "Send us a new Defence Secretary. This one is broken."?

[rant over]

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