Tuesday, March 8, 2011

No Lawrence of Arabia in this Arab Revolt

Had an interesting conversation with a friend the other day, a fellow student of the life of T.E. Lawrence.

We speculated on what Lawrence, a British agent who won lasting fame for his role in the World War I Arab Revolt, would think of the current Arab Revolt. We concluded that Lawrence would be gratified that this Arab Revolt really does belong to the Arabs.

The original Arab Revolt was stoked by the British for their own ends — primarily to defeat the Ottoman Empire in the First World War. The British made many promises to support an Arab nation — promises they never intended to keep. And, in the end, they betrayed the revolt, with consequences that echo to this day.

Till the end of his days, Lawrence carried a profound sense of guilt and self-loathing for his collusion in the deception and betrayal of his Arab allies.

The current wave of revolt and revolution sweeping much of the Arab world has tremendous potential to reshape the region. It could all go horribly wrong, too. History doesn’t give much cause for optimism.

But whatever happens, this Arab Revolt must continue to be their own; the peoples of North Africa and the Arabian peninsula must be left to shape their own destiny. Our meddling, even with the best of intentions, will ultimately blow back.

The rebels made that point when Lawrence’s heirs — an MI6 operative under diplomatic cover and several SAS men who arrived in Libya to offer some covert help — were arrested and told “thanks but no thanks.”

No Lawrence of Arabia in this Arab Revolt.

Jim Cornelius, Editor


  1. I agree with the premise, but be careful what you wish for !! Iran: Great, lets over throw the Shah and get our Country back !! Gee, how's that working out ?

  2. Arguably Lawrence's greatest gift/strength was his ability to unite the Arab tribes of the time under one Arab leader with one common Cause in mind.

    This worked to the great advantage of the Allied Powers but ultimately led to the betrayal of the Arab Cause, its leadership, and certainly as Lawrence felt, his honor as a trusted and venerated leader of the Arab.

    There has never been nor likely will there ever be such unity and focus among the Arab nations of the Middle East. Each remains basically a tribal society with ruling elite and a tribal/religious philosophy that echews anything even remotely representing the Western view of "democracy" and "freedom" and "equality".

    If it were not for oil and an ever expanding vision of global military strategy being centric in this region, the Western/Asian/Eastern Powers would gladly leave the Middle East to its own devices, frailities, and close held memories of a time and empire once great but now long gutted by its own internal demons.

    Lawrence returned home to England a tired, war-weary, dispirited man who sought peace within himself, a peace he apparently never was able to achieve.

    His beloved Arabs returned to what he'd originally described as a "petty little people", forever at each other's throats and exploited by whomever was able to gain momentary gain or favor.

    Of his time and effort in the desert Lawrence commented "I had been born free, and a stranger to those whom I had led for two years, and tonight it seemed that I had given them all my gift, this false liberty drawn down to them by spells and wickedness, and nothing was left me but to go away."

    We will see no changes in Egypt, Libia, the Sudan, Somalia, Yemen, Syria, nor even Jordan. History tells us so, both theirs and ours.

  3. I cannot help but observe the apparent repeat of the United States and others who first urge the "oppressed" to rise up against their oppressor (in this case, M.Quadaffi)and then fail to provide direct action military aid - in this case air power - to the outgunned, ill-trained, but ardent "freedom fighters".

    We did this same thing in the early 1960s during the Bay of Pigs invasion and again in southern Iraq when we urged the Shia' to revolt against Saddam...then left them truly out in the open with nowhere to hide.

    However, because our strategic interests were of more import we did provide air power over Bosnia, and air power over northern Iraq/Kurdistan with great effect and without a declaration of war.

    It is truly shameful when "the Red, White, and Blue" fail to show up to the fight after being waved so openly in front of those who take us at our word and do the hard slogging in the trenches only to be abandoned in abstentia.

  4. Spoke too soon...

    Western military advisers become visible in Benghazi


    Jim Cornelius, Editor

  5. A successful revolt requires great investment of time, resources, expertise, leadership, the crafting of a replacement government, arming, training, and then demobilization of the para military force(s) and replacement with an established and formal military/law enforcement structure in support of the newly formed and identified government.

    All of the above is not represented by what has and is going on in Libia today. Air power, by historical and doctrinal accounts, will never win a war on its own. Even in Afghanistan air power was only successful because of U.S. Special Forces on the ground coordinating, directing, training, and leading rebel forces against the Taliban.

    And there was an identified political entity who was brought to power through force of arms.

    A gaggle of Agency para militaries does not represent sound insurgency doctrine, practice, or military value.

    Ground is taken and held by ground forces. The current "rebel" movement cannot take and hold ground with or without NATO air, and air power is meant to support ground forces, not replace them.

    I will say one thing. The current president sure enjoys invoking military power ("war making") more than his campaign speeches ever gave a hint of.

  6. We should as a nation bite the bullet and sacrifice in the short term for our long term well being:

    1. Pull out of the Middle East Wars now, Libya, Afghanistan, Pakistan,Iraq: you will be amazed at the positive impact on the Government debt.

    2. Stop buying Middle east Oil now, in fact embargo all oil sourced from countries whose citizens have luaunched terror attacks on the USA: #1 on that list would be Saudi Arabia.

    3. Of necessity - to replace the lost energy supply, launch an aggressive national campaign to conserve energy, develop alternative green renewable energy.

    You will find several beneficial effects from this. Muslim terrorists will have no interest in us. Our national security will be enhanced immediately. Our budget crisis will be alleviated and we will be on the road to energy independance based on a sustainable model, both for the environment and the energy supply.

    Get out now..It is their country, not ours.