Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

An Australian quote of the day: In the field, ‘Move like a dove, think like a hawk’

That’s the advice James Brown’s commanding officer gave him before Brown led his cavalry troop on its first mission in Iraq.

8603635496_07af92ee30_b
8603635496_07af92ee30_b

 

That’s the advice James Brown’s commanding officer gave him before Brown led his cavalry troop on its first mission in Iraq. I like it, especially since I have noticed lately that doves seem to have unusually good situational awareness. The other day, I was reading while two doves were eating outside my office window. The doves took off in a hurry. I wondered why. A moment later, an osprey swooped down. But by then the doves were deep inside a lush sugar maple tree, defiladed behind branches and leaves, defeating the osprey’s diving ability.

Brown relates this in an essay about “Australia’s Path to War.” His writing style is not to my taste — that is, I like to know what the point is somewhere in the first five pages or so. Instead, he hides the ball until the last paragraphs, where his interesting conclusion is that, “As the complexities of Asia play out, we [Australia] will need to pull back from arenas where we have less unique leverage. That will likely mean making fewer military contributions in the Middle East, and more in Southeast Asia.”

 

That’s the advice James Brown’s commanding officer gave him before Brown led his cavalry troop on its first mission in Iraq. I like it, especially since I have noticed lately that doves seem to have unusually good situational awareness. The other day, I was reading while two doves were eating outside my office window. The doves took off in a hurry. I wondered why. A moment later, an osprey swooped down. But by then the doves were deep inside a lush sugar maple tree, defiladed behind branches and leaves, defeating the osprey’s diving ability.

Brown relates this in an essay about “Australia’s Path to War.” His writing style is not to my taste — that is, I like to know what the point is somewhere in the first five pages or so. Instead, he hides the ball until the last paragraphs, where his interesting conclusion is that, “As the complexities of Asia play out, we [Australia] will need to pull back from arenas where we have less unique leverage. That will likely mean making fewer military contributions in the Middle East, and more in Southeast Asia.”

I guess that’s a call for a pivot. These days, everyone wants to get out of the Middle East — not just Syrians.

Photo credit: Clubber_Lang/Flickr

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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