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SWJED
03-06-2006, 01:02 PM
Moderator's Note: 8th January 2015 I have merged two SWJ Blog threads into this one. In January 2014 four others threads found, mainly SWJ Blog were merged in. The theme of each thread on a quick review was: can we learn from the past today?

4 March Long Island Newsday - Iraqi Insurgents Learning from Lawrence (http://www.newsday.com/news/nationworld/world/ny-wois0305,0,828013.story?coll=ny-top-headlines).

If anyone can claim credit for inventing the improvised explosive device, it's Lawrence of Arabia.

When insurgents in Iraq use IEDs to attack armored vehicles and disrupt U.S. supply lines, they are taking a page from the less-advanced tactics of T.E. Lawrence, the British adventurer who pioneered guerrilla warfare during the 1916-18 Arab revolt against Turkish rule. His main lesson for insurgents: If you're facing a bigger and better-armed adversary, don't engage him directly.

Lawrence introduced many innovations to modern guerrilla wars, but perhaps his most effective technique was the use of mines to disrupt Turkish trains and supply convoys. "We had proved that a well-laid mine would fire; and that a well-laid mine was difficult even for its maker to discover," he wrote in his 1922 memoir, "Seven Pillars of Wisdom." "Mines were the best weapon yet discovered to make the regular working of their trains costly and uncertain for our Turkish enemy."...

[Lawrence] once famously said that suppressing a rebellion "is messy and slow, like eating soup with a knife."

In his memoir, Lawrence argued that a native insurgency that is mobile and has natural cover and support from the population would always wear down a foreign occupier. "Granted mobility, security, time, and doctrine, victory will rest with the insurgents," he wrote...

As the Arabs' British liaison, Lawrence quickly became the military architect of the rebellion. He led small groups of fighters on raids against Turkish convoys and taught his guerrillas to plant mines underneath bridges and railroad tracks. "My pupils practiced the art of mining afterwards by themselves, and taught others," he wrote in "Seven Pillars."...

Lawrence's book has inspired many modern insurgent leaders. Vo Nguyen Giap, the Vietnamese general who fought the French colonization of Vietnam in the 1950s, once told a French adversary: "My fighting gospel is T.E. Lawrence's 'Seven Pillars of Wisdom.' I am never without it."

While Iraqi insurgents are applying the military tactics developed by Lawrence, they are ignoring his political lessons. They have disregarded the principles - of Lawrence and others - that guided most rebellions of the 20th century: Try to win broad public support; create a political wing; present an alternative system of governing, and build international legitimacy. This insurgency also has no charismatic leader, no clear chain of command and not even a cohesive ideology.

Lawrence argued that, in order to succeed, insurgents must have at least passive support from the local population. "Rebellions can be made by 2 percent actively in the striking force and 98 percent passively sympathetic," he wrote.

Since a wave of car bombings began in August 2003, Iraqi insurgents have shown a willingness to kill civilians indiscriminately. With each new bombing that targeted a market, a mosque or a wedding party, the guerrillas lost another chance to win Iraqi hearts and minds.

Some segments of the insurgency are hoping to foment a sectarian war that would lead to the partitioning of Iraq into Sunni, Shia and Kurdish regions.

"In Iraq, the insurgents are deliberately killing large numbers of civilians," said Kamil Tawil, a Lebanese historian and expert on militant movements. "And that is turning a large segment of the population against them."...

GorTex6
03-06-2006, 05:59 PM
Lawrence's book has inspired many modern insurgent leader

Add the IRA (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0873640748/sr=8-1/qid=1141667846/ref=sr_1_1/102-7317194-4860937?%5Fencoding=UTF8) to his list of offspring. There is Lawrence throughout the old relic.

Bill Moore
03-06-2006, 06:32 PM
Lawrence of Arabia was one of the most amazing men that the West has ever produced. However, like Clausewitz, not all of his ideas are applicable to every situation in the world. The author notes that the Iraqi Insurgents have neglected Lawrence's political ideas, and he assumes that since the insurgents are targeting civilians indiscriminately that they'll fail. Yet the facts on the ground tend to counter this argument. While the attacks do turn some segments of the population against the insurgents, for the most part (with a few exceptions) they still have freedom of movement throughout Iraq, and still control several areas within Iraq. If the acts are explicable to the Iraqi people, then they will continue to achieve effects. We can't blindly apply what I call Western logic to other cultures.

Admittedly the Iraqi insurgents appear to be their own worst enemy when we view them through our eyes and doctrine, and they have even apparently been counseled by AQ leadership on their indiscriminate mayhem, but none the less they're still effective. Why? This is the question we really need to answer.

Also, there are several insurgent groups in Iraq, and each one has a different agenda. In some cases indiscriminate targeting of population helps them achieve their goals. They don’t want a peaceful Iraq in the near term, but rather Civil War. Others like the AQI, want to use Iraq to destabilize the Middle East to help achieve their objectives, so Lawrence’s arguments in this case may not apply.

Stratiotes
03-10-2006, 06:07 PM
I have to agree with you on the targetting of non-combatants and the effect in Iraq. I think we could alter our understanding of the concept and say not so much that targetting civilians turns the public against the attacker - I think it more often just turns the public against whoever is seen as the party in charge.

Instead of thinking of insurgents, think instead of a natural disaster - like Katrine for instance. When destruction comes to the people they blame not the weather but the administration in Washington, DC. The destruction is obviously not their fault but the people are understandibly angry and want to lash out so they lash out at the most convenient target - and one they feel is responsible for their well-being.

It is not necessarily the one who does the attacking that loses credibility - it is the one you think is responsible for your well being who gets the blame. That may not be right but that's the way it is.

We talked in another thread a while back about legitimacy - who is the legitimate power? Insurgents have an advantage in that they do not have to prove they are the legitimate authority - they only have to challenge the legimitacy of the current authority. That's why they can target non-combatants and still gain while the authorities cannot. In both cases, it weakens the legitimacy of the current authority. It is much easier to challenge the status quo than it is to offer an actual alternative.

Bill Moore
03-14-2006, 02:44 AM
Stratiotes,

Your comments were interesting and well put. Do you know if there is a name for the theory or hypothesis you articulated about who gets the blame? This is definitely worthy of further discussion and hopefully we can find some way to mitigate the impact of this syndrome. Perhaps not, but we have to at least calculate the impact of it before we go in.

Tom Odom
11-16-2006, 01:29 PM
Latest history lesson:

Then I estimated how many posts they would need to contain this attack in depth, sedition putting up her head in every unoccupied one of these hundred thousand square miles. I knew the Turkish Army inside and out, and allowing for its recent extension of faculty by guns and aeroplanes and armoured trains, still it seemed it would have need of a fortified post every four square miles, and a post could not be less than twenty men. The Turks would need six hundred thousand men to meet the combined ill wills of all the local Arab people. They had one hundred thousand men available... The Turk was stupid and would believe that rebellion was absolute, like war, and deal with it on the analogy of absolute warfare. Analogy is fudge, anyhow, and to make war upon rebellion is messy and slow, like eating soup with a knife.

This history lesson is both old and new. Old in that I am again offering T.E. Lawrence's Evolution of a Revolt, a paper I used in a history lesson back in 2003 when the application of the term "insurgency" in Iraq was under debate. New in that it bears looking at with the benefit of three years hindsight. The Combat Studies Institute offers this paper as a reprint (see the link below).

LAWRENCE AS AN ICON

Remember when you read this paper, that T.E. Lawrence was not the typical British officer of his day. Indeed he was not the typical Britain of his day. But much has been made of Lawrence as the prototype foreign area officer/unconventional warfare genius of his day. He was in many ways just that, a genius who found it difficult to fit into his own society and ultimately failed to fit into his adopted Arab world.

EVOLUTION OF A REVOLT

So why do I offer "Evolution of a Revolt" again? Simply that it remains a remarkable template for insurgent strategy in Iraq and even Afghanistan, one based on insights from a successful rebel/insurgent who unhinged the Turkish occupation of the Middle East.

CONVENTIONAL AND THE UNCONVENTIONAL

As was almost inevitable in view of the general course of military thinking since Napoleon, we all looked only to the regulars to win the war. We were obsessed by the dictum of Foch that the ethic of modern war is to seek for the enemy's army, his centre of power, and destroy it in battle. Irregulars would not attack positions and so they seemed to us incapable of forcing a decision.

In this analysis, Lawrence broke away from what he describes as the trap of conventional thinking. Indeed, Lawrence admits that at first he and the other British and Arab leaders found themselves mired in that same trap, trying to use the irregular Arab forces to defend conventionally, when he had already realized they could not attack conventionally.

CONTINUED EXISTENCE EQUALS CONTINUED THREAT

...the books gave me the aim in war quite pat, "the destruction of the organized forces of the enemy" by "the one process battle." Victory could only be purchased by blood. This was a hard saying for us, as the Arabs had no organized forces, and so a Turkish Foch would have no aim: and the Arabs would not endure casualties, so that an Arab Clausewitz could not buy his victory.

Lawrence realized that penning the Turks in Medina and allowing limited use of their rail supply lines essentially achieved the aim of the Arab Revolt years before WWI ended. A foe confined to base is a foe contained and possibly defeated. Indeed such confinement whether self-inflicted or enforced by an enemy surrenders not only "99 per cent" of the terrain but all of the population that resides on that terrain.

MEDIA WAR FOR HEARTS AND MINDS

It was the ethical in war, and the process on which we mainly depended for victory on the Arab front. The printing press is the greatest weapon in the armoury of the modern commander, and we, being amateures in the art of command, began our war in the atmosphere of the twentieth century, and thought of our weapons without prejudice, not distinguishing one from another socially.

"The printing press is the greatest weapon in the armoury of the modern commander"hopefully jumps out at anyone reading the above paragraph. Lawrence states that the importance of the word as a weapon was more readily apparent to him as an amateur than his professional counterparts. Translate "printing press" to information operations and then ask yourself have we really changed that much from the days of T.E. Lawrence: have we truly grasped the primacy of IO in winning a population during counter-insurgency operations (COIN)? I believe that we have, although not as rapidly as we should have.

LAWRENCE'S REQUIREMENTS FOR SUCCESS

Finally in looking at this paper I urge you to read it through to the end for Lawrence reserved his most important messages for the final page. There Lawrence offers his requirements for a successful revolt (insurgency). And before those who would dismiss revolt as something different from insurgency, Lawrence uses the term insurgent to make his points.

AN UNASSAILABLE BASE

It seemed that rebellion must have an unassailable base, something guarded not merely from attack, but from the fear of it: such a base as we had in the Red Sea Ports, the desert, or in the minds of the men we converted to our creed.

Much has been written since WWII especially on Algeria and Indochina (Vietnam) on the subject of COIN. And gratefully much of that writing has resurfaced and been incorporated in discussions on COIN in Iraq, Afghanistan, or the greater COIN effort called the Global War on Terror. Nearly all of those writings have postulated that a successful insurgency must have a sanctuary or base beyond the reach of counter insurgent forces. Lawrence writing this paper in 1920 correctly points out that the ultimate sanctuary of the insurgent is inside the minds of the insurgents and their supporters.

AN ALIEN ENEMY LIMITED IN NUMBERS

It must have a sophisticated alien enemy, in the form of a disciplined army of occupation too small to fulfill the doctrine of acreage: too few to adjust number to space, in order to dominate the whole area effectively from fortified posts.

Lawrence choice of words--or at least as I interpret his writing--was careful. This short quote reflects that care; the numbers issue is obvious and has been well debated in terms of OIF and more recently OEF. But look at the concept of an "alien" enemy. At first glance, one might--wrongly--assume all enemies are alien. Certainly in the case of an occupying force that is usually the case. But in a COIN environment, not all enemies are alien; in this short paper, Lawrence highlights the use of Arab members of the Turkish Army who defected to the rebel cause. In a larger sense, though, Lawrence was speaking of an enemy that remains alien or alienates itself from the population.

DEFINING A FRIENDLY POPULATION

It must have a friendly population, not actively friendly, but sympathetic to the point of not betraying rebel movements to the enemy. Rebellions can be made by 2 per cent. active in a striking force, and 98 per cent. passively sympathetic.

COIN theory keys on the role of the population as the objective of COIN operations and strategy. Dr. Kalev Sepp in his "Best Practices in COIN" article for Military Review rightly highlights this factor. French Colonel (now deceased) David Galula similarly points out the pivotal role of the population in COIN. Lawrence offers the insight that a passive population is a population essentially friendly to the insurgents.

MILITARY CAPABILITIES OF THE INSURGENTS

The few active rebels must have the qualities of speed and endurance, ubiquity and independence of arteries of supply. They must have the technical equipment to destroy or paralyze the enemy's organized communications, for irregular war is fairly Willisen's definition of strategy, "the study of communication" in its extreme degree, of attack where the enemy is not.

Lawrence's campaign against the Turkish rail net was not to cut them as lines of communications, but to make the Turks feel the pinch of lost supplies and infrastructure. In this paper he essentially identifies material as a Turk center of gravity, stating that the Turks cared about lost equipment--especially rail--much more than losses in soldiers. The Arabs on the other could not sustain casualties and Lawrence sought to hurt the Turks by targeting their rail LOCs, not their strong points. In many ways the enemy's use of improvised explosive devices has repeated this strategy while changing its target to Coalition soldiers.

INSURGENCY IN 50 WORDS

In fifty words: Granted mobility, security (in the form of denying targets to the enemy), time, and doctrine (the idea to convert every subject to friendliness), victory will rest with the insurgents, for the algebraical factors are in the end decisive, and against them perfections of means and spirit struggle quite in vain.

Ypu can read or download this paper at CSI (http://www-cgsc.army.mil/carl/resources/csi/csi.asp#reprints).

Best
Tom

MASON
11-16-2006, 04:33 PM
Great read and analysis.

Rob Thornton
04-28-2008, 02:44 AM
I thought Robert Bateman's latest blog had some good insights - it is all too often that we take what sounds like a good piece of advice from its proper context and apply it liberally to whatever ails us.

However, I think he basically uses the same the same type of bias in his closing paragraph:

From Blog:

If Lawrence were still around, working as a strategist for the Iranians, for example, he would certainly be advocating this position. After all, so long as the greater part of the land combat power of the United States is consumed in attempting to squelch violence in Iraq, those forces cannot be used elsewhere. He would, as he did along the Hejaz railway, recommend calibrated support to agitated elements inside Iraq. His advice to his higher command would be that they never allow the pressure to drop so much that we withdraw after declaring a victory, nor raising the pressure so high that we actually quit the place. Iraq, through the eyes of Lawrence, is our Medina.

I think its wrong to assume Lawrence would try and advocate the same position as though the political context of his time could be laid down upon the current one. The Iraqis are not the Bedu, Iraq is not Arabia as Lawrence knew it. The Americans are not the Ottomans or the Germans. Iran is Iran, and the political context of today is different for a number of reasons. Iran may or may not view its interests as keeping a large U.S. presence in Iraq, from our standpoint we are strengthening Iran's neighbor who also happens to have been a formidable enemy in the not too distant past. Our presence there and our commitment to regional allies could also be seen as standing in the way of Iran extending its influence.

I think a legitimate argument could be made that if Iran continues to foment distrust against its Arab neighbors across the Gulf, and if it continues to threaten Israel, and if it continues to support terrorism, and if it continues to support proxies, and if it continues to pursue a nuclear program that seems geared toward nuclear armament, then it will create a political context that put it at odds in the region and possibly with regard to much of the West.

If Iraq gains strength militarily, economically and politically (and I believe it will) - it alters the context further. With its oil revenue, Iraq stands to be a different state then it was under Saddam. Its a combination of its how it is reforming (yes it is slow, and it is violent - political transformation usually is) and its economic potential that stand to make it among the most powerful states in the region. Its alliance with the United States - and yes I call them an ally, and the process which have grown its institutions will make it a formidable regional player.

My point is the same one that Robert Bateman used in developing the argument - context matters. The conditions and all the possibilities must be considered. I'm not so sure that:

His advice to his higher command would be that they never allow the pressure to drop so much that we withdraw after declaring a victory, nor raising the pressure so high that we actually quit the place. Iraq, through the eyes of Lawrence, is our Medina.

is sound advice to Iranian leadership, we are not just sitting idly by allowing ourselves to be strategically fixed - there is more to our end then extracting ourself from Iraq. There is also the question of crossing a threshold you did not intend to cross by upping the ante with regard to "keeping up the pressure" and triggering an event you did not anticipate, or wish to happen, after all, this an environment where chance often influences policy in unanticipated ways.

Best, Rob

SWJED
04-28-2008, 04:17 AM
... the link. (http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/2008/04/lawrence-and-his-message/)

Ken White
04-28-2008, 05:48 AM
"Iraq, through the eyes of Lawrence, is our Medina."Cool. Except the issue is how we see it. Besides, Lawrence is dead... :D

Tom Odom
04-28-2008, 02:17 PM
As a historical metaphor. Rob, I have used Lawrence twice in the past 5 years to illustrate what was happening with the insurgency in Iraq via my history lessons.

The problem with Bateman's sourcing is that he would have been on much safer ground had he done the same. Seven Pillars of Wisdom is a turgid, wandering, and very much self-promotying memoir that has been effectively challenged with regards to accuracy.

You can read a better essay by Lawrence here at The Evolution of Revolt (http://www-cgsc.army.mil/carl/resources/csi/Lawrence/lawrence.asp)

My last use of this essay is introduced in the attachment.

Tom

JJackson
04-28-2008, 05:51 PM
While I know little about Lawrence beyond a bit of general knowledge, Bateman’s post and that film the conclusion – if not the route taken to get there - seems valid.
The conclusion being this part from Rob’s original post.
After all, so long as the greater part of the land combat power of the United States is consumed in attempting to squelch violence in Iraq, those forces cannot be used elsewhere.
Many of you have significant military backgrounds and I have none but it seems to me looking at it from the position of an Iranian military strategist this would make perfect sense.
That it would be in Iran’s interests to keep the US forces occupied elsewhere would seem obvious. The one recent occurrence most likely to influence their thinking would have been the NIE report - which knocked the wind out of some of the more hawkish sails and so will have reduced their fear of attack. As seen from an Iranian standpoint up until the NIE report a quick clean Phase III to Phase IV transition – a la Rumsfeld, Feith & friends – would have left the US with troops free to deal with another axis-of-evil target. A little aid to those in a position to keep those forces otherwise engaged would seem to be a cost effective solution.
Faced with a similar problem in Afghanistan the US supplied the insurgents in the same way – training, weapons. As they were militarily and diplomatically fire proof they were unconcerned about the source of supply being traced back to them, they also supplied MANPADs. One suspects that a traceable supply of man-portable anti-amour or air-defence would, in this context, be enough to provoke an attack on Iran.

Steve Blair
04-28-2008, 06:15 PM
I just replied to this one...spurred on more by Gian's little snip than Bateman's entry, honestly. He does take the example out of context, and like Tom I've seen many serious questions raised about the Seven Pillars and indeed the overall impact of Lawrence in the area. There's good points there, to be sure, but I think the conclusion is a bit shaky.

JJackson, I moved my original reply to better deal with the points you raised. While the situation may look similar on the surface, there are in fact a great many differences both in terms of the overall strategic situation and the makeup of the groups involved. For the Ottoman Empire, Arabia was a weak flank - menaced by a sizable British force in the bargain. They lacked the manpower and transportation infrastructure (which they had in common with all WW I powers) to deal with multiple threats, and Lawrence's activities posed major problems for them in this regard. The Ottoman army was also a fairly weak reed in this theater, and it was facing an invigorated command under Allenby. Given the WW I framework, abandoning the region wasn't an option for them.

That said, in realpolitik terms the US has more options than the Turks did when facing Lawrence. Currently we do have a large number of ground forces in Iraq, but they aren't tied there by the same considerations that kept the Turks locked in place. Remember, I'm not talking from the morally right or wrong standpoint here, but what could be considered international 'reality.' The US could easily declare victory and leave, or taper off the ground force presence under a pretext similar to that used in South Vietnam (where we pulled out and stayed out in terms of ground forces in the face of two major attacks on our ally).

And, as Rob points out, since this isn't taking place against the backdrop of a major world conflict, there are many variables that Lawrence didn't have to consider. Since the situation hasn't escalated yet (at least in "world war" terms), both sides have to consider the possibility that it could jump into areas neither want to go to.

Interesting article, but again I think he's taking history out of context.

Rob Thornton
04-29-2008, 03:34 AM
Steve, Well said:

Since the situation hasn't escalated yet (at least in "world war" terms), both sides have to consider the possibility that it could jump into areas neither want to go to.

I think it comes down to misunderstanding the stakes for one side or another (or as Clausewitz said "the object in view"), and the lengths that a side is willing to go to secure those ends. It would be a mistake for anyone to assume that because the bulk of our land power (meaning that which we use to compel others through through displacement and occupation of the same space) is involved in Iraq and Afghanistan that we are unable to employ the military element of national power toward a political end.

Its worth considering that any state that has an economy such as Iran has plenty of fixed site assets, and plenty that must be mobile to exert influence or fulfill their function, and as such they are at risk. Having said that, the damage done in terms of disrupting energy resources to other states who import from Iran; the risk that the military action will not wholly succeed; that it might engender other military reactions (both by Iran and others); that the action might risk other objectives; or the risk of creating conditions within Iran where instability is likely because we destroy its security and C2 assets are examples of possibilities that must all be weighed as risks against the use of military force to achieve a political objective. Its an environment where chance and the unknown are competitive.

Keeping that in mind, the value and attraction of the object in view - be it success in Iraq and the risk to U.S. military members, the risk of a nuclear armed Iran, or the possibility of a military empowered Iran that unduly influences the flow of world energy resources from the Persian Gulf - or any combination thereof - creates the opportunity for misjudgment and misinterpretation that leads to a new set of interactions.

A Iranian strategy that seeks to prolong the U.S. involvment in Iraq by supporting insurgency must be weighed against the possibilities that it by itself, or in combination with some other act (such as going nuclear, or some other action) may then require a reaction on the part of the U.S. that the other elements of policy (DIE) can no longer achieve.

In this context, I think there is a great deal of risk for Iran in adopting such a strategy. It doesn't mean that Iran has not done so - their actions would seem to suggest either they have adopted some policy aimed at supporting Shiite insurgents/groups, or it could be that the central authority does not have complete control, or that they have not considered alternatives for whatever reason -e.g. they may believe its a question of regime survival, or it may be that they believe they are somehow immune. If its the former, then diplomacy may work over time. If its the latter, sooner or later diplomacy will be ineffective. At that point its a question of how long before the two sets of political ends must be reconciled in some other fashion. Either side could come to that conclusion erroneously or at a different time then the other - but once they do, and once they act, it changes the nature of the interaction and stakes again. It stays this way until one side abandons, or modifies its end to a point that is acceptable by the other.

Best, Rob

JJackson
04-29-2008, 01:39 PM
Steve I had read your blog post and am in complete agreement re the limited scope for escalation then – as opposed to now – and off course the obvious adjustments Lawrence would have had to make to is math if he had had satellite surveillance, UAVs, instant radio communication and supersonic air support to contend with. From Rob’s post e.g. they may believe its a question of regime survival, or it may be that they believe they are somehow immune. If its the former, then diplomacy may work over time. If its the latter, sooner or later diplomacy will be ineffective. what I was trying to argue was that – regardless of any lessons we could learn from Lawrence – Iran may well have viewed the situation at the end of OIF phase III as ‘a question of regime survival’. Iran and the US have obviously not learnt to play nicely together and the level of mistrust and propaganda is very high leading to an increased risk of escalation by miscalculation.
I went back to the blog to re-read the comments before writing this and found three new comments: Zenpundits (always worth reading), Ken’s (pithy and astute as usual) and this one which rather makes my point for me.

arifJAA :
Excellent article, excellent points.

With the Iranian youth largely anti-regime why we can't do the same to them eludes me. It's more than justified.

I have a confession...when I came back in 2003 I thought Iraq was the toehold and we were going to sweep the region...at least Iran and Syria. As the Iranian youth rose in spontaneous revolt at the time of the 2003 invasion I may not have been as foolish as I feel now, or perhaps I was not the only one fooled.
Anyone else care to share?

"*The American Army's seduction over Galula
*The Straight line drawn between Generals Abrams and Petraeus"

If LTC Gentile wants to draw eerie parallels to Vietnam...one of my early mentors was a SF Advisor in 1965. He said at the time of LBJ's major infusion of troops the Army officers of Company and Field Grade rank thought they would drive into North Vietnam. We know what happened instead. [the bold is mine - JJ]

Leaving aside the reliability of “With the Iranian youth largely anti-regime”.
Also leaving aside the legality/moral legitimacy of The ‘Democratic Crescent’ dream arifJAA refers to it was prevalent at the time and it, along with, axis-of-evil status, calls for regime change, claims of WMD production and the carte-blanche afforded by the pre-emptive use of force doctrine combine to leave Iran with little choice but to view the US threat as existential. I would further argue that the US has, in its GWOT response to 9/11, ‘re-assessed’ its position on a large number of hitherto generally accepted norms of international behaviour (extraordinary rendition, treatment of prisoners (detention without trial & ‘enhanced interrogation’), the whole issue of State Sovereignty & fragile States and the aforementioned pre-emptive use of force). This combination has left other State and non-State actors– myself included – confused as to where the US stands and how it is likely to react in any given situation. Which leads me back to Rob & Steve’s point re escalation; how can any state now assess the likelihood of escalation, and if they can’t reliably, will they not default to planning for a worst case scenario: massive military build up and more nuclear weapon states.
Pre 9/11 I would have accused anyone who told me that within five years the US might think it had the right to march an army through the Middle East, replacing regimes it did not like as it went, a paranoid lunatic – I wish I could say the same today.

Ken White
04-29-2008, 05:15 PM
"This combination has left other State and non-State actors– myself included – confused as to where the US stands and how it is likely to react in any given situation."I am quite convinced that's a feature, not a bug; i.e it is by design.

It has also been long and is now quite true and should be borne in mind by all...

Rob Thornton
04-29-2008, 10:52 PM
While the reaction can be seen as rational in the context of the moment that created it, it might not be seen as such before it occurs, - or after the fact when additional information has borne out that the reaction might have either been inappropriate or generated consequences we'd have preferred left in the bottle.

Those non-linear outcomes are in keeping with the nature of complex interactions where fear, honor and interest are at stake, and where the cost of military inaction is seen as too high (see Colin Gray's "The Implications of Preemptive and Preventive War Doctrines: A Reconsideration" (http://www.strategicstudiesinstitute.army.mil/pubs/people.cfm?q=44) for a good discussion).

As Ken said, it is a feature - its simply a more visible feature when the stakes are perceived as higher and the mutual understanding between enemies/competitors is lower with regard to the stakes.


Best Rob

JJackson
04-30-2008, 09:06 PM
I am quite convinced that's a feature, not a bug; i.e it is by design.

It has also been long and is now quite true and should be borne in mind by all...

Ken: By design?
I was thinking more unintended but not unwelcome side effect. Although I am sure there is someone out there writing their book who will remember it differently. For it to be a design feature some prescient US foreign policy wonks on Sept. 12th must have 'felt the force' flowing through all those non-linear outcomes until they clearly saw the confusion a disproportionate response would sow in their enemies. Just a shame they could not have foreseen a few other things while they were at it.
And there was I thinking you were a cynic rather than a true believer.

Rob thanks for the link, I am about half way through (finding him slow to get to the point) and suspect I am not going to agree with his premise when I am done but we shall see.

Hacksaw
04-30-2008, 09:26 PM
Ken et al,

Whether the ambiguity we have sown (regarding likely US response to other State and non-State actions) was by design or not, I think it is an incredibly important/dangerous development.

I think we can all agree that surprise is a good thing when applied to military activity (except of course when we surprise ourselves... hello this isn't the enemy we planned for... that is a not so good surprise).

An analogy (please bear with me)...

However, surprise is not so good when your girl friend's father comes home early and finds his baby naked and in your arms... However, you can deal with this surprise if you had some reasonable expectation of his reaction (e.g. throws you out of the house and tells you not to return).

If, however, his response is cut off your package, break both your knees, and drop you off naked in the middle of the country... well that is a rather bad surprise.

If there was this much ambiguity there would be very little dating and our supply of warrior babies would drop to a dangerously low level.

From Grand Strategy point of view we want and need to be predictable... one way or another... its the only way to maintain some semblence of global stability.

I vote for Fathers with a more predictable response...

Unless of course it involves my two teenage daughters... That blade is well honed

Live well and row

Ken White
04-30-2008, 10:16 PM
Ken: By design?That doesn't mean it was a major issue, merely a synergistic side effect.One of many such small benefits if the operation succeeded but that would not be too harmful should it not succeed.I was thinking more unintended but not unwelcome side effect. Although I am sure there is someone out there writing their book who will remember it differently. For it to be a design feature some prescient US foreign policy wonks on Sept. 12th must have 'felt the force' flowing through all those non-linear outcomes until they clearly saw the confusion a disproportionate response would sow in their enemies.Eminently possible, we'll find out some day. Maybe. Just a shame they could not have foreseen a few other things while they were at it.We can agree on the thrust of that if not the wording. It was foreseen, those who foresaw were simply ignored.And there was I thinking you were a cynic rather than a true believer.Unsure what you mean by that. If it is that I am a supporter of the way things are being done, you're quite wrong. I have said before I wouldn't have done a lot of things the way they're being done. Wasn't my call. I do agree that some response above Afghanistan was long overdue and that Iraq makes strategic sense. Things don't have to be done my way to be work.

Though it would usually be helpful to all if they were done that way ;) .

Ken White
04-30-2008, 10:52 PM
Whether the ambiguity we have sown (regarding likely US response to other State and non-State actions) was by design or not, I think it is an incredibly important/dangerous development.I think we have historically acted erratically in this sense. Most of our wars over the last 200+ years began,as did this one, because someone believed the flaky Americans would not react. Always a bad mistake.

We're busy worrying about Britney and what designer beer to buy and we do not have time for this esoteric 'war' B.S. -- so some idiot starts one and all we want to do is go in there and wreak death and destruction and get back to our navel contemplation.

Thus I contend that we ARE, historically, unpredictable in the depth and extent of our reaction. I have long (since 1979) contended that Carter could have backed Iran down on the hostages without war and that his failure to do so, followed by Reagan's, Clinton's and Bush 41's failures to react in the ME were an invitation to disaster.

Carter, in particular, acted unpredictably -- but down stream instead of of over reacting. So did the next three under react with bad consequences. Had any one of overreacted, it would've been simpler and easier than the position we are now in. A position we are in very much due to the fact that someone thought we had become predictable.

Quite wrongly. Fortunately...:cool:I think we can all agree that surprise is a good thing when applied to military activity (except of course when we surprise ourselves... hello this isn't the enemy we planned for... that is a not so good surprise)...True, and if it's not the enemy we planned for, whose fault is that? Sounds like poor intel and / or poor planning to me. In any event, I suggest some Diplomatic uncertainty can preclude having to resort to military surprise...However, surprise is not so good when your girl friend's father comes home early and finds his baby naked and in your arms... However, you can deal with this surprise if you had some reasonable expectation of his reaction (e.g. throws you out of the house and tells you not to return).

If, however, his response is cut off your package, break both your knees, and drop you off naked in the middle of the country... well that is a rather bad surprise.

If there was this much ambiguity there would be very little dating and our supply of warrior babies would drop to a dangerously low level.Heh. We can really disagree on that. Teenage hormones and danger are like steak and cheese in Philly. There would be more, not less hanky panky. What would really happen is that the number of unwed mothers would drop slightly, not an overall bad thing.From Grand Strategy point of view we want and need to be predictable... one way or another... its the only way to maintain some semblence of global stability.Semblance is a good word. because that's what it is -- stability and the semblance thereof are two different things. I do not fully agree that predictability, one way or the other is desirable, much less necessary but I will say that if we had to go that route, I'd be inclined to go the route of the Great Khan. The meek may someday inherit the Earth but for the next couple of centuries they're more likely to just get buried early.I vote for Fathers with a more predictable response...

Unless of course it involves my two teenage daughters... That blade is well honed.Having three sons and a daughter plus three Grandaughters, two in their 20s, do keep that blade honed. And do be alert. You'd be amazed at how fast these kids can get their clothes on and be ten feet apart... :D

Oh -- on the tell 'em to depart and never return bit? They'll just meet elsewhere. Trust me on that one, been there, had that done.

Oldest son is a cop, always made a point to be cleaning his firearms when a new male arrived at the house for the first time; annoyed the Granddaughter but it kept her (him???) straight... ;)

Point there is that one can do what you suggest -- and what T.R. suggested; "Walk softly and carry a big stick." The key is that you cannot be hesitant in using the big stick. That's where the unpredictability has historically come from (including recent history)...

Ron Humphrey
05-01-2008, 01:02 AM
There is one factor that will always be predictable,

Unpredictability

The key seems to be to Hope for the best, expect and plan for the worst and in the end generally things come out somewhere in between

That said as long as there is an accepted end state your aiming for it should be much easier to keep from getting thrown to far off track along the way no matter how confused things get.

North is always north the trick would be making sure we know which way north is from the start

Rank amateur
05-01-2008, 02:11 AM
"Walk softly and carry a big stick." The key is that you cannot be hesitant in using the big stick. That's where the unpredictability has historically come from (including recent history)...

With respect, the key is that using the big stick can lead to disaster, therefore you need to really understand the cost/benefits/risks of using the big stick. You need to recognize that using the big stick too often makes you a bully. Finally, need to use the big stick properly, thus the importance of your choosen profession.

The question of whether or not the people who hired Rumsfeld and Feith have learned enough about the nuances of using the big stick is an open one. I am optimistic, but frankly don't believe that they've earned the right to walk up to the brink. As opposed to - I'll be non partisan - Kennedy and Reagan who'd I'd trust in a game of brinkmanship.

Ken White
05-01-2008, 03:54 AM
With respect, the key is that using the big stick can lead to disaster, therefore you need to really understand the cost/benefits/risks of using the big stick. You need to recognize that using the big stick too often makes you a bully. Finally, need to use the big stick properly, thus the importance of your choosen profession.the cost of not maintaining it or not using it at all can be even more disastrous. I suggest one with a big stick will not use it too often else there would be no need for the preceding phrase "walk softly..." I also suggest that if you have a big stick and use it no matter how carefully some -- many -- who do not possess such an instrument will call you a bully and the person it's used against is almost certain to do so. :wry: The question of whether or not the people who hired Rumsfeld and Feith have learned enough about the nuances of using the big stick is an open one.I think your concern is misplaced, those people will soon be gone. I suggest concern might be better directed to those incompetents who will replace the current crowd of incompetents.... I am optimistic, but frankly don't believe that they've earned the right to walk up to the brink. As opposed to - I'll be non partisan - Kennedy and Reagan who'd I'd trust in a game of brinkmanship.We can agree on the first statement and disagree quite strongly on the last. Kennedy used the big stick to get involved in the wrong way at the wrong time in Viet Nam and SEA in an effort to show he was tough and boost the economy. Reagan OTOH used the stick marginally well in Libya but blew it totally in Lebanon by NOT using it, thus aiding and abetting Carter before him and Bush 41 after him (note my also non partisan stance ;) ) in failing Brinkmanship 101. Washington attracts incompetents... :mad:

SWJ Blog
11-29-2009, 12:10 AM
Understanding Lawrence's Article 15 (http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/2009/11/understanding-lawrences-articl/)

Entry Excerpt:

“Do not try to do too much with your own hands. Better the Arabs do it tolerably than that you do it perfectly. It is their war, and you are to help them, not to win it for them.”
- T.E. Lawrence, Twenty Seven Articles, Article 15

T.E. Lawrence’s (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T._E._Lawrence) quote has become quite possibly the most over-used quotation by the U.S. Army in recent memory. Nearly every military presentation regarding our recent conflicts has some form of it embedded in the text. Nearly all U.S. military officers can parrot it with rote precision. However, application of Lawrence’s wisdom in the field remains spotty. One doesn’t have to look far to find accounts of U.S. soldiers and advisors emulating Larry the Cable Guy’s (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Larry_the_Cable_Guy) “Git r’ Dun” philosophy to prevent failure in Iraqi (or Afghan) forces. Sometimes this is required, but too often our own hubris and self-perception as the all-knowing American military overcomes the wisdom of listening to the host nation.

I learned this lesson the hard way in Tal Afar (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tal_Afar), Iraq. From March-May 2006, my company engaged in a difficult struggle for control of the Hai al Sa’ad neighborhood (http://www.smallwarsjournal.com/documents/coinintalafar.pdf) in the northwest part of the city.



--------
Read the full post (http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/2009/11/understanding-lawrences-articl/) and make any comments at the SWJ Blog (http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog).
This forum is a feed only and is closed to user comments.

davidbfpo
01-18-2010, 10:46 PM
Re-opening an old thread is deserved here, plus the first one found that fitted.

Rory Stewart, a sometime UK diplomat and writer, has produced a BBC two-part documentary on Lawrence of Arabia: http://kingsofwar.org.uk/2010/01/awrence/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed:+KingsOfWar+(Kings+of+War)

Just started listening and hopefully will be available beyond the UK (I know sometimes copyright intervenes. Alas comments suggests UK only). Try other routes i.e. BBC website and an Ipod may exist.

Jedburgh
01-18-2010, 11:25 PM
.....Just started listening and hopefully will be available beyond the UK (I know sometimes copyright intervenes. Alas comments suggests UK only). Try other routes i.e. BBC website and an Ipod may exist.
Yup, UK only. But you can watch it here:

The Legacy of Lawrence of Arabia ( http://watch-tv-episodes-online.com/uncategorized/watch-the-legacy-of-lawrence-of-arabia-part-1-online/)

....albeit partially obscured by a box demanding you complete some ridiculous survey and give up some personal info. But if you don't mind a third of the picture being blocked as you listen to the video, it'll work.

William F. Owen
01-19-2010, 06:20 AM
Yup, UK only. But you can watch it here:

The Legacy of Lawrence of Arabia ( http://watch-tv-episodes-online.com/uncategorized/watch-the-legacy-of-lawrence-of-arabia-part-1-online/)

....albeit partially obscured by a box demanding you complete some ridiculous survey and give up some personal info. But if you don't mind a third of the picture being blocked as you listen to the video, it'll work.

Well you can't watch here in the Middle-East. I fear it will be another romantic, hagiography of the old self-publicist, who basically invented himself as a legend and was more or less militarily irrelevant.

davidbfpo
01-19-2010, 09:01 AM
Wilf,

I fear it will be another romantic, hagiography of the old self-publicist, who basically invented himself as a legend and was more or less militarily irrelevant.

The part I listened to last night was far from that, in fact by drawing comparisons between then and now - it appeared to be critical.

Jedburgh,

Thanks for pointing out a place for non-UK readers to find it.

William F. Owen
01-19-2010, 12:26 PM
The part I listened to last night was far from that, in fact by drawing comparisons between then and now - it appeared to be critical.


....in the words of the Chemical Brothers "There is hope!"
We need a lot more study of Allenby and a lot less of T.E. Lawrence.

Question: How many biographies and books are there about Allenby? How many are their about Lawrence?

Infanteer
01-22-2010, 07:41 PM
Question: How many biographies and books are there about Allenby? How many are their about Lawrence?

Who was Allenby?



;)

Pete
01-26-2010, 02:15 AM
He was the officer played by Jack Hawkins in the film.

William F. Owen
01-26-2010, 05:21 AM
Who was Allenby?
;)

All joking apart the lionising and stroking of T.E. Lawrence has utterly obscured the military genius of the man he worked for, and the endeavours of a great many other people. Writing and studying T.E. Lawrence is an industry, with little or no actual military relevance.

Infanteer
01-26-2010, 06:35 AM
I'll agree with you in part. Portrayals of Lawrence (as well as his own writing) never seem to put his efforts into the larger picture; this leaves many with the idea that he wandered into the desert and led the Arabs to victory. I think you are correct in your assertion that he is something of a tactical lightweight.

However, in my opinion, Lawrence had an excellent ability to understand culture and its "will to war" and published very good points on how to get the right angle of fighting someone else's war. On recollection of my own experiences of serving alongside Afghans, I found that many of his "Twenty-Seven Articles" mirrored my own observations of what worked. Obviously, my observations are not unique nor original - neither were Lawrence's; but they are excellent observations none the less.

William F. Owen
01-26-2010, 07:59 AM
However, in my opinion, Lawrence had an excellent ability to understand culture and its "will to war" and published very good points on how to get the right angle of fighting someone else's war. On recollection of my own experiences of serving alongside Afghans, I found that many of his "Twenty-Seven Articles" mirrored my own observations of what worked. Obviously, my observations are not unique nor original - neither were Lawrence's; but they are excellent observations none the less.
I think you have to put that in context.

Across the British Empire there was literally thousands of multi-lingual British Officers, who worked extremely effectively within their area of operations. Guys like Lawrence were not common, but they were far from rare either. His observations were common practice in the British Imperial Army.
Lawrence was not a regular officer, ( thus mostly ignorant of the wider Army) and though adept at fitting in with Arabs, he was remarkably ignorant of how to fit into the Army that paid him. What the British Army leverage was Lawrence's huge emotional affinity for the Bedouin, the exact nature of which is somewhat "obscure". :eek:

What Lawrence brought into, encouraged by others, was a hunger for explanation of the carnage of the western front that portrayed there as being a "better way." Sadly, we now know there really wasn't.

Lawrence was relentlessly advertised way beyond his actual insights or ability. If anyone in the US COIN community ever bothered to research UK Irregular warfare in both breadth and depth, they would see Lawrence as far less remarkable.

Bob's World
01-26-2010, 12:26 PM
From Rob's (initial) post

I think a legitimate argument could be made that if Iran continues to foment distrust against its Arab neighbors across the Gulf, and if it continues to threaten Israel, and if it continues to support terrorism, and if it continues to support proxies, and if it continues to pursue a nuclear program that seems geared toward nuclear armament, then it will create a political context that put it at odds in the region and possibly with regard to much of the West.

Or, seen another way, what of the Saudis and Israelis who work equally diligently to stir up anti-Iranian sentiments in the US? Or both those same states exerting rather ruthless measures against dissenting members of their own populaces under a U.S. sanction of "counterterrorism"?

This is definitely an example of where one stands is very much shaped by where one sits (and watches their respective local/national news). The U.S. is a babe in the woods when it comes to Middle Eastern intrigue, and gets played like a fiddle by many of the same states that we think we are playing instead. We need to be careful or we will end up in the middle of something that we just really don't either need, or want, to be in the middle of.

Infanteer
01-26-2010, 05:22 PM
I think you have to put that in context.

Across the British Empire there was literally thousands of multi-lingual British Officers, who worked extremely effectively within their area of operations. Guys like Lawrence were not common, but they were far from rare either.

Agreed - just reading a bit into Britain's experience in the Raj will find you a host of "unconventional" soldiers who insert themselves into the culture they were fighting in. I remember a passage from Slim where he talks about being tired and mistakenly giving a speech to his Indian soldiers in Gurkali as opposed to Hindi (or the opposite).

Lawrence just had a good publicist and serves as the "icon" for this type of soldier - I guess he is worthy of study in that regard as he does of some good things to say. For some reason, it has gone beyond that to the point where an Armoured CO who packs up his heavy vehicles and roams around the desert conducting disrupt operations is labelled the "Next Lawrence"....

So...do you think a movement should be to name Patreaus the next Allenby? :o

Ken White
01-26-2010, 07:48 PM
...The U.S. is a babe in the woods when it comes to Middle Eastern intrigue, and gets played like a fiddle by many of the same states that we think we are playing instead. We need to be careful or we will end up in the middle of something that we just really don't either need, or want, to be in the middle of.We've been falling for it since FDR made deals with Ibn Saud and agreed with Churchill and Stalin that Mohammed Reza Pahlavi should succeed his Pappy.

Carter didn't help...

davidbfpo
01-26-2010, 08:04 PM
Part 2 was broadcast here the other day: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00qgtjk/The_Legacy_of_Lawrence_of_Arabia_Episode_2/

Part 1 is no longer available on the BBC IPod link posted and yes I know many cannot view BBC programmes.

I enjoyed it and setting the "lessons learned" in the contemporary Middle East is interesting and Leavenworth gets a small mention too.

Pete
01-26-2010, 08:06 PM
George Patton met Allenby during the Great War, presumably when he was an aide to Pershing. Acording to the Carlo D'Este Patton biography, Allenby told Patton that "for every Napoleon. Alexander, and Jesus Christ that made roles of [sic] history, there were several born. Only the lucky ones made it to the summit."

William F. Owen
01-27-2010, 05:33 AM
So...do you think a movement should be to name Patreaus the next Allenby? :o

The COIN club are trying to do that! ;)
I don't know Patreaus at all, or much of him. By all accounts a good commander, but based on purely on historical achievement, or even successful operations, I cannot see how he makes a list with Sherman, Jackson, Abrams, Patton and Puller on it.

Culturally biased, I'll admit, with the exception of Sherman, I'm more drawn to Monash, Slim and Allenby as teachers, with a very grudging respect for Montgomery.

"for every Napoleon. Alexander, and Jesus Christ that made roles of [sic] history, there were several born. Only the lucky ones made it to the summit."
speaks to Allenby's very self-effacing manner. He really is worthy of study by the modern US and UK Army's. He just knew how to fight. It didn't matter if it was regulars or irregulars - they all fall the same way!

Hacksaw
01-27-2010, 07:19 PM
I did serve with Gen Petraeus on two different occassions... The first during OIF I... the second while as CAC Cdr...

I don't know whether he belongs with Sherman, Abrahms... etc... then again in the midst of their heyday, I'd hazard a guess they had as many detractors... far easier to see a great commander in hindsite than it is in plain view...

This is what I can state authoritatively about Petraeus as a wartime commander...
Lazer-like focus on mission command and communicating intent...
Power down authority...
both physical and moral courage in abundance...
Absolute comfort with decision making...
Rightfully tough on staff to get it right (sometimes leading to the reality or perception of mistrust)...
radiates confidence
Green Tab, Green Tab, Green Tab...

As Commander of CAC...
Intellectually rigorous...
tireless....
flat organization (probably too flat for even himself)...
radiates confidence...

All of which I think bodes well for how HISTORY will regard him... as is predictable, one of his greatest strengths is perhaps his blind spot - radiates confidence would probably also be fairly applied to your entire list...

We shall see, as a disclaimer, my service with the man was from a staff perspective (with lots of access)... I can't say I always liked the man, but that has no bearing... always respected though...

My two cents

Live well and row

Pete
01-27-2010, 07:58 PM
Allenby's successful operations in Palestine during the Great War are said to have delayed the demise of the horse cavalry for about 20 years after that war.

William F. Owen
01-28-2010, 05:55 AM
...

All of which I think bodes well for how HISTORY will regard him... as is predictable, one of his greatest strengths is perhaps his blind spot - radiates confidence would probably also be fairly applied to your entire list...

Hack, all sounds good. What I think is utterly irrelevant, compared to opinions within the US Army - my real point is that the nature of operations in Iraq is not going to show up great general ship. It will however do the opposite!

As Lewis Sorely said of Abrams, "He deserved a better war."

I think Wavell was a great general, but extremely unlucky to bump up against the Africa Korps and the greatly over-rated Rommel!

William F. Owen
01-28-2010, 06:00 AM
Allenby's successful operations in Palestine during the Great War are said to have delayed the demise of the horse cavalry for about 20 years after that war.

Who ever said that would be wrong. There was very good reason to retain Horse Cavalry/Mounted Infantry, well into the 1920's - certainly till 1932. The reason the British "Cavalry" were slow to change was mostly lack of money.

The real idiocy to come out of mounted operations in Palestine was the Australians, who tried to change mounted infantry into cavalry - buy giving them swords and cavalry training.

William F. Owen
01-28-2010, 10:30 AM
An e-mail from another Lawrence sceptic reminded me of Lt Col Leachman (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerard_Leachman)
who sadly died before he could be compared to Lawrence or others could point out that men of this calibre, were comparatively common in the British Army of the day.

.... and amongst the regular army, "getting your name in the papers" was considered "bad form." Sadly, not so today.

Pete
01-28-2010, 05:45 PM
Wait a minute Wilf, the Aussies remember the charge at Beersheba in October 1917 the way Americans remember the 101st Airborne at Bastogne.

The 4th and 12th Australian Light Horse Regiments drew up behind a ridge. From the crest, Beersheba was in full view. The course lay down a long, slight slope which was bare of cover. Between them and the town lay the enemy defences. The 4th was on the right; the 12th was on the left. They rode with bayonets in hand. Each drew up on a squadron frontage. Every man knew that only a wild, desperate charge could seize Beerhseba before dark. They moved off at the trot, deploying at once into artillery formation, with 5 metres between horsemen. Almost at once the pace quickened to a gallop. Once direction was given, the lead squadrons pressed forward. The 11th Australian Light Horse Regiment and the Yeomanry followed at the trot in reserve. The Turks opened fire with shrapnel. Machine guns fired against the lead squadrons. The Royal Horse Artillery got their range and soon had them out of action. The Turkish riflemen fired, horses were hit, but the charge was not checked.

For the entire story:

http://www.lighthorse.org.au/histbatt/beersheba.htm

Ken White
01-28-2010, 06:06 PM
This LINK (http://www.repeatafterus.com/title.php?i=9349) sort of sums up that charge as well as the one to which it originally referred...

Most such myths merely excuse doing stupid things instead of fighting smart. Repeat them too often and they become 'the way' to fight. :rolleyes:

Bob's World
01-29-2010, 04:08 AM
I suspect that General Allenby would be far less dismissive of the value provided to him by the service of LTC Lawrence than WILF is.

After all, what LTC under his command, Regular or otherwise, created more effects for him of a strategic nature in his prosecution of the campaign that he was responsible for?

SOF exploits often make good media, so do indeed draw more than their fair share of the lime light at time. SOF operations are also ALWAYS supporting and enhancing to the larger campaign, and never the decisive component. This contradiction often tends to irk a certain component of the regular, conventional force. It has always been this way.

John S. Moseby is legend, either as a criminal or a hero, depending on one's perspective; and I am sure many a "regular" in the Confederate Army was disdainful of the operations of this SOF militiaman.

Similarly the SAS and the LRDG exploits are justifiably legendary, and they too had their fair share of opponents and naysayers in the regular conventional force.

These examples of spectacular SOF successes contributed significantly to the campaigns they were in, far beyond the rank of their leaders or the numbers of men employed. But they were shaping, supporting efforts and not the decisive component of their respective fights.

We will always need the General Bradley's who can push millions of men in a mighty frontal assault across Europe; men who can organize massive destructive powers and relieve commanders and read casualty reports without blinking. Duty, you know.

We will also need men who can operate far from traditional forms of support, often alone but for a small team of brothers within a foreign people, a strange and dangerous land, with absolutely no or little link to things like logistical resupply or medical evacuation, or fire support, or any of the other wonderful tools of warfare that comfort and support those soldiers waging the conventional fight.

A good general understands this, and orchestrates and employs all to their best effect. Allenby allowed Lawrence to do what he did in support of his larger campaign. That fact alone separates him from many of his peers as a great general.

Most would have taken one look at a rag tag reservist dressed up in Arab garb and immediately relegated to some menial clerical job more suitable for such a misfit.

William F. Owen
01-30-2010, 06:49 AM
Wait a minute Wilf, the Aussies remember the charge at Beersheba in October 1917 the way Americans remember the 101st Airborne at Bastogne.

Between them and the town lay the enemy defences. The 4th was on the right; the 12th was on the left. They rode with bayonets in hand.

...nuff said....

William F. Owen
01-30-2010, 06:56 AM
A good general understands this, and orchestrates and employs all to their best effect. Allenby allowed Lawrence to do what he did in support of his larger campaign. That fact alone separates him from many of his peers as a great general.

I agree, so why the many biographies of Lawrence and very few of Allenby?
Objective military history should concentrate far more on Allenby and the role of the Arab Section of the British Intelligence than Lawrence.

Backwards Observer
01-30-2010, 10:46 AM
From the Mad Magazine spoof, "Flawrence Of Arabia", April 1964.

davidbfpo
01-30-2010, 02:00 PM
Backwards Observer,

Excellent catch and enjoyed by a non-Wilf audience. I think this is the first time SWC has cited such a laudable publication.:D

Firn
01-30-2010, 08:24 PM
As I did not study the campaigns of both men in detail I have to ask others. How and how much did the activities of them influence the outcome in this theater of war?

Firn

Pete
01-30-2010, 11:34 PM
Allenby commanded the operation that forced the Turkish army out of Palestine and captured Jerusalem in 1917. Lawrence helped to organize and lead irregular Arab forces in support of Allenby's campaign. Today there is an Allenby Bridge in Jerusalem. The image from circa 1918 in the link below shows that how one sees Allenby depends on one's point of view.

http://szyk.com/pics/iLrg-hs-print-chanukah-maccabee-allenby.jpg

William F. Owen
01-31-2010, 06:11 AM
As I did not study the campaigns of both men in detail I have to ask others. How and how much did the activities of them influence the outcome in this theater of war?

Depends who you want to believe. My lack of adoration of Lawrence is based purely on the fact that I do not seem him as instrumental to Allenby's success, but rather Allenby instrumental to Lawrence.

Bob's World
01-31-2010, 07:04 AM
Depends who you want to believe. My lack of adoration of Lawrence is based purely on the fact that I do not seem him as instrumental to Allenby's success, but rather Allenby instrumental to Lawrence.

So, Lawrence was the supported commander?? :D

Pete
02-01-2010, 07:57 PM
..

Weapons cache halts building

Daily Dispatch
East London, South Africa
2010/01/26

WORK on a multi-million rand construction project at Lovedale Further Education and Training College in King William’s Town has not progressed since an arms cache was found at the site last year.

The R1.2 million three-phased classroom development was stopped in November after workers digging foundations came across a massive cache of Anglo-Boer War weapons.

Experts believed the find, which consisted of rifle barrels, bayonets, swords and burnt wooden rifle butts, was buried on the site by the British army after the war ended in 1902.

They said the college is situated on the site of the old Military Reserve, which traces its origins to 1847 when Sir Harry Smith, Governor of the Cape Colony, established King William’s Town as the administrative and military capital of British Kaffraria.

They said the weapons were buried by a British regiment after they abandoned the Military Reserve in 1913.

Ken White
02-01-2010, 10:28 PM
The thread pertains to Lawrence, good topic.

Moving right along... :cool:

William F. Owen
06-22-2010, 07:18 AM
Of note on Lawrence. (http://www.csmonitor.com/World/2010/0619/Lawrence-of-Arabia-guiding-US-Army-in-Iraq-and-Afghanistan)

Sadly, IMO, this is more intellectual posing yearning after a romantic and arcane figure. Same as the Galula stuff. Perceived exoticness, rather than actual content. The deifying T.E. succinctly encapsulates all that is wrong with "new-COIN."

Lawrence is a pop-romance figure. Nothing more. Get over it!

Umar Al-Mokhtār
06-23-2010, 01:59 AM
it's just a tad bit of hagiographic rhetoric. Even in death TEL still manages to “back into the spotlight.” :D

William F. Owen
06-23-2010, 06:08 AM
it's just a tad bit of hagiographic rhetoric. Even in death TEL still manages to “back into the spotlight.” :D

I know! ....but I can never understand what it is about T.E> that causes the COIN-clubbers to drop their shorts and get on their knees. 90% of what is thought good about T.E. was announced to the world by T.E.

..just another example of apparently good men, using bad history and coming up with more bad ideas.

Steve the Planner
06-23-2010, 06:39 AM
Wilf:

I thought that George Bernard Shaw wrote a great work in the Seven Pillars, so its a well-told tale that deserves re-telling,like any other literary work.

Allenby could have done just as well, too, if he had GBS do his book.

You want facts about ME? Try Gertrude Bell, a very good reporter of what she really saw and did. I particularly enjoy the glimmers of her insights into Ottoman systems which, in real life, provide the more appropriate context for understanding much of the genetic code of ME systems (for better or for worse). Understand Ottoman systems, and you understand the start points for, say, modern Turkish systems which actually do provides a path for positive evolutionary bridging between two worlds.

Otherwise, it is like an Ottoman trying to understand British/American systems with no knowledge of the Magna Carta, Bill of Rights, etc...the old foundations on which our Western systems of individual-focus societies are grounded.

Agreed on the whole COIN thing. Absent credible understanding of the way real things work in systems of governance, economy and politics, its just not practical to explain to die-hard Coinistas (or is that an oxymoron?) why it is that what they would like to believe will not bear the fruits they expect.

Umar Al-Mokhtār
06-23-2010, 01:49 PM
but for what he actually did do: an “intelligence” officer with no significant military training who was seconded, along with other British officers, to a group of Bedu to assist them in stirring up trouble along the Hedjaz Railway as a way to tie down Turkish forces and interdict supplies to the garrison at Medina. For an amateur he did a fairly good job of it and that is admirable.

As you no doubt know, TEL patently DID NOT start the Arab Revolt nor did he “lead” it. Allenby clearly saw the advantage of having the Bedu fighting on the British side and thus securing his own LOC while causing a certain amount of disruption and dispersion of Turkish forces.

TEL wasn’t an insurgent as much as he was a liaison officer and the “insurgency” was carefully crafted and controlled by the British to support their aim of keeping the Turks occupied with fighting in Palestine and to deny as much territory as possible to the French in the post war slicing up of the Middle East.

That he was quirky, eccentric, and self promoting is evident in TEL’s meandering memoir, the popularity of which was greatly assisted by the entrepreneurial Lowell Thomas and a host of other well placed admirers. More useful are his 27 Articles in the Arab Bulletin were good as TTP’s for operating with the Bedu and do have good general recommendations for any military advisor.

Another "bad" influence is David Lean’s film which, while cinematographically beautiful, has about as much relation to the reality of the Arab Revolt as Tolkien’s hobbits have to old English gentry. Hollywood as history is quite dangerous indeed, but has gone a long way towards setting TEL up on that pillar.

Glubb Pasha was much more the interesting chap.

SWJ Blog
12-26-2010, 12:15 PM
NYT Book Review: Arabian Knight (http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/2010/12/nyt-book-review-arabian-knight/)

Entry Excerpt:

Arabian Knight (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/26/books/review/Macintyre-t.html?ref=world) - New York Times book review of Hero: The Life and Legend of Lawrence of Arabia (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0061712612?ie=UTF8&tag=smallwarsjour-20&linkCode=xm2&camp=1789&creativeASIN=0061712612) by Michael Korda. NYT review by Ben Macintyre. BLUF: "Most treatments of Lawrence’s life can be divided into debunkings and hagiographies. Hero by Michael Korda, as the title implies, is closer to the latter category."



--------
Read the full post (http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/2010/12/nyt-book-review-arabian-knight/) and make any comments at the SWJ Blog (http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog).
This forum is a feed only and is closed to user comments.

SWJ Blog
01-03-2011, 03:40 PM
Book Review: Hero...Lawrence of Arabia (http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/2011/01/book-review-herolawrence-of-ar/)

Entry Excerpt:

Hero: The Life and Legend of Lawrence of Arabia (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0061712612?ie=UTF8&tag=smallwarsjour-20&linkCode=xm2&camp=1789&creativeASIN=0061712612)

by Michael Korda.

Published by HarperCollins, New York. 784 pages, 2010.

Reviewed by Commander Youssef Aboul-Enein, MSC, USN

Understanding the complex and contradictory political arrangements of the Middle East can be best understood by reading the biography of T. E. Lawrence. In addition, no total understanding of guerilla and irregular warfare tactics will be complete without a study of this British officer, better known as Lawrence of Arabia. There have been movies, documentaries, and many books about Lawrence and the Arab Revolt. Initially, I was concerned about the title of Michael Korda’s new book on T. E. Lawrence. Hero gives the impression of delving into the mythology of the person, and not their complexities. I am glad to have not been dissuaded, and delved into the 702 pages of text, and found an important biography of Lawrence.....



--------
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This forum is a feed only and is closed to user comments.

davidbfpo
01-03-2011, 04:00 PM
On reflection there are several threads on TE Lawrence and it would make sense to combine them - prompted by the new book on him.

Starbuck
01-03-2011, 06:24 PM
Been a while since I dropped by the Council. (Sorry to my old SWC pals for being absent) I had an essay on Lawrence in early '09 to add as well:

http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/journal/docs-temp/183-burke.pdf

Starbuck
01-03-2011, 06:27 PM
Pete has inspired me to pull out my copy of "With Allenby in Palestine". This should make for a good read on another trans-Atlantic flight.

William F. Owen
01-04-2011, 06:12 AM
Pete has inspired me to pull out my copy of "With Allenby in Palestine". This should make for a good read on another trans-Atlantic flight.

Reading anything on Allenby is time well spent, especially the book on him by Wavell. Allenby was a total professional in sharp contrast to the total-amateur of Lawrence.

I'd also strongly suggest reading Yigal Sheffy. British military intelligence in the Palestine campaign, 1914-1918
(http://books.google.com/books?id=5Gx9DKh2JacC&printsec=frontcover&dq=Yigal+Sheffy.&source=bl&ots=wuqWW4Z0P1&sig=9p3FnOSzpCIyXPBX-Ds6jR6du_o&hl=en&ei=n7giTeeQJYq48gOrt9SPBQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=3&ved=0CCAQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q&f=false)
It's an excellent corrective to the Lawrence view and basically shows how cool headed and methodical the British were, and what Lawrence actually did versus what he and others claim.

Bob's World
01-04-2011, 12:59 PM
Ahh, but American culture is distinct from British culture (perhaps due largely to the nature of that separation). It is one that values the successful military amateur over that of the successful military professional. At least it used to.

For the past 60 years or so, that we fell into a very colonial sustaining/ containment role we drifted, like our Euro parent, to being more focused on the professionals required to perform those peacetime tasks and are coming to see that as the gold standard.

I think America was a better country, with a better perspective, when it valued the amateur over the professional. We've slid down that slippery slope. Crafty old amateurs, such as George Washington, would shake his head in wonder at the America of today for this change of perspective and approach to the world.

Infanteer
01-04-2011, 01:27 PM
I'm sorry Bob's World, but I can't agree with that lamentation.

Considering most, if not all, Western armies didn't have an Army "profession" (as defined by Huntington) in the 18th century and that much of the officer corps consisted of aristocrats, Washington could hardly be considered an amateur when held up to them. He definately was a "seasoned" amateur.

Canada used to be dominated by the "militia myth", believing that the militia was enough and that when threatened, the patrotic citizen mustering to the defence of the realm was more effective than a standing army. A poor reading of history commonly accompanied the "militia myth". That myth has since been demolished and it is a common understanding that despite a history of successful amateurs like Currie and Hoffmeister, neglect of the profession means that amateurs generally learn their professional shortcomings with the blood of their soldiers.

Bob's World
01-04-2011, 01:57 PM
Oh, we created the military academies to ensure we had that core of professionalism; but it was the "myth of militias" that fought and won the American Civil War; Spanish-American War; World War I and World War II to name but 4.

Count the regulars on the battlefield, and they are few and far between. Count the senior commanders with military academy heritage, and they dominate the field. Today's problem is made worse in that we have gotten into messy peacetime engagements that we have labeled as "wars" and that we are employing our modern militia far to heavily overseas to wage peace. Militias should only be called upon in time of war, and our nation is not at war.

A small regular force can't be employed by the government to cause too much trouble in the world during times of peace. It is a valuable check on the abuse of power. This is but one more example of where America has taken off former self-constraints on actions overseas. Our current willingness to quickly move to militarily delivered deadly violence in the sovereign space of others is another example of such relaxing of self constraint. For my money, there is few more effective applications of power than constraint. Constraint coupled with the absolute certainty that when a certain line is crossed that it will come down with a frightening degree of certainty and effect. Used to often, and one loses much of that effectiveness and gains a reputation as a bully or a loose cannon. This is where we find ourselves today.

We have gotten all mixed up in our approaches and priorities.

William F. Owen
01-04-2011, 02:28 PM
Ahh, but American culture is distinct from British culture (perhaps due largely to the nature of that separation). It is one that values the successful military amateur over that of the successful military professional. At least it used to.

I don't know where the distinction of Amateur and Professional occurs. Amateur (Gentleman) has always been a term of derision to me. As far as I am concerned, the preference is always for Professionals, as a description of men who study what they do and take it seriously.

Bob's World
01-04-2011, 02:56 PM
In my experience, many of our "Armatures" are more versed in the profession of arms than our "Professionals" are. It is a distinction of what one does as their primary means of income, not a distinction of one's competence in a particular subject.

In fact, many a disaster has occured by placing too much trust in one who wears the badges and titles of a "professional," but lacks any real talent or expertise in their chosen profession.

William F. Owen
01-04-2011, 03:08 PM
In fact, many a disaster has occured by placing too much trust in one who wears the badges and titles of a "professional," but lacks any real talent or expertise in their chosen profession.

I agree, thus I draw the distinction between men who take their profession seriously and seek to improve theirs and others conduct of it, and those that do not. Soldiering is a profession, (or should be) . Not a past time or hobby.

Bob's World
01-04-2011, 03:22 PM
Sometimes the "hobbiest" sees what the professional cannot. Such as the small distinction that not all violence for political purposes is warfare!:D

(Ok, you know I had to bring that back around. Good discussion; I don't expect to convert you anytime soon, but think about it. The best answer likely lies somewhere in the no-man's land between our two positions. I believe us professionals need to put a finer point on some of these topics in order to help avoid some of the sticker messes we've been getting ourselves into with overly broad, and I believe, dated perspectives. It will likely be some old wolf like Ken White, or young buck like Infanteer who leads a patrol out there to bring that answer back.)

Ken White
01-04-2011, 05:13 PM
...It is one that values the successful military amateur over that of the successful military professional. At least it used to.US ArNG like to foster that idea...For the past 60 years or so, that we fell into a very colonial sustaining/ containment role we drifted, like our Euro parent, to being more focused on the professionals required to perform those peacetime tasks and are coming to see that as the gold standard.True, though I disagree with the drifting or the 'Euro parent' ideas. We didn't drift, we were propelled by FDR et.al. ...I think America was a better country, with a better perspective, when it valued the amateur over the professionalHaving been around before you arrove, I missed that. However, that's neither here nor there. We are where we are and dreams of returning to a kinder, gentler time are just that -- dreams. Nothing wrong with dreams but one must account for reality and not sugar coat the memories in order to convert the dream into meaningful progress.A small regular force can't be employed by the government to cause too much trouble in the world during times of peace. It is a valuable check on the abuse of power. This is but one more example of where America has taken off former self-constraints on actions overseas.More dreaming. In 1939, prior to the onset of WW II, the US Army and ArNG numbered about 400K -- about .3% of the then population. Smedley Butler would disagree with your "self constraints."

Today we have about 1M in the Army and ArNG -- about .3% of today's population. The more things change, the more they remain the same. Oh -- and Smedley would still disagree with you.

Infanteer also had this right: ""That myth has since been demolished and it is a common understanding that despite a history of successful amateurs like Currie and Hoffmeister, neglect of the profession means that amateurs generally learn their professional shortcomings with the blood of their soldiers."" The US has failed to fully comprehend that significant problem even though in the all the big wars you named, Civil War forward, there was ample evidence of its truth...We have gotten all mixed up in our approaches and priorities.That may be true but it is the policies that must be changed and I still await your proposal on how to get both the Politicians and the great unwashed to subscribe to your approach... :confused:In my experience, many of our "Armatures" are more versed in the profession of arms than our "Professionals" are. It is a distinction of what one does as their primary means of income, not a distinction of one's competence in a particular subject.I agree with the latter sentence, my experience with the former is that the statement is partly true but for few as opposed to many.In fact, many a disaster has occured by placing too much trust in one who wears the badges and titles of a "professional," but lacks any real talent or expertise in their chosen profession.That is totally correct. It is unfortunately exemplified by current US personnel policies which opt for 'fairness' (or the politically correct version thereof... :mad: ) over competence. The system produces far too many who are adequate or less so as opposed to the number who are good or better.

That is an exceedingly long way of getting to my points.

- Wilf and Infanteer are right, a good pro can whip a great amateur most always.. .;)

- We can agree on flawed policies. We might not totally agree on which are flawed but that's broadly immaterial as we do agree on many. The question neither of us can answer is how does one turn the Elephant herd that is the US political milieu and its accompanying defense bureaucracy. Wishing will not get that done... :(

Bob's World
01-04-2011, 05:49 PM
Perhaps. Of course my point of order with Wilf was that he uses "Armature" when he means "Incompetent." Such bias-driven loose applications of meaning are how bar fights get started.

As to the 30s vs. now; As I recall the US did not have compete dominance of Air, Space, Land and Sea then as it does now...and a small percentage of a small nation creates small problems, such as the banana wars that Smedley rightfully found distasteful after the fact. Today, a small percentage of a large nation with such dominating enablers is able to get out there and create trouble on a much larger scale, and need not stop by the Congress to ask for permission on the way out the door...

And all things being equal, a good professional is indeed better than a gifted armature. But go to a surgeon and he will recommend surgery. Go to a Priest and he will recommend prayer. Go to a General and he will recommend war.

Which brings me to my second point with Wilf; not all violence for political purpose is war; nor should it be. Waging it as such can lead to far greater problems than the events that set things in motion to begin with.

Ken White
01-04-2011, 10:53 PM
Perhaps. Of course my point of order with Wilf was that he uses "Armature" when he means "Incompetent." Though my observation is that he's pretty careful with words, says what he means and has never denied that there are incompetent professionals -- indeed, he takes pleasure in naming them. As do I... :wry:As to the 30s vs. now; As I recall the US did not have compete dominance of Air, Space, Land and Sea then as it does now...Nor did anyone else at the time. Nor does the US really have that dominance today. If we did we wouldn't be doing many of the things we are doing or buying many of the things we are buying....and a small percentage of a small nation creates small problems, such as the banana wars that Smedley rightfully found distasteful after the fact.That's Smedley. I don't find them distasteful, not at all -- though they were rather shortsighted. The fact remains that in the 30s, the harbingers of US cultural hegemony were all in place around the world to include the ME.Today, a small percentage of a large nation with such dominating enablers is able to get out there and create trouble on a much larger scale, and need not stop by the Congress to ask for permission on the way out the door...In order; not all that dominating or we wouldn't be doing what we're doing (or at least we'd be doing it far more efficiently and effectively...); This next is important: creating trouble or responding poorly to it? Two very different parameters requiring differing fixes. Really.

Ah, yes. Congress. What is your solution to them? As well as to the Executive Branch of the US government? According to you, both are behaving badly. I'm unsure how your plans and ideas can be implemented in view of that.And all things being equal, a good professional is indeed better than a gifted armature. But go to a surgeon and he will recommend surgery. Go to a Priest and he will recommend prayer. Go to a General and he will recommend war.Not to be snarky, but well, doh...:D

However, I've known a number of Generals who OPPOSED war (and specific, recent wars); more than have advocated for one.

That's not the issue, though. the Generals, whether they recommend war or not, do NOT make the decisions to go or not go. The issue with Generals is how they perform once that decision is made by their civilian bosses. Currently, the consensus is 'not too well' but that judgment is significantly affected by the political milieu. There's your real problem, nominal professionals and some AGR amateurs (many better than their active counterparts) being OVERdirected by both amateurs and professionals from another line of work. IOW, to use your similes, the Political High Priests (and a few Acolytes and even the occasional lay Brother plus a Nun or two, all, of course, from the 'correct' denomination or order -- none selected for their competence, either...) are directing the war or simulation thereof... :rolleyes:Which brings me to my second point with Wilf; not all violence for political purpose is war; nor should it be. Waging it as such can lead to far greater problems than the events that set things in motion to begin with.That we can agree on -- and I don't think Wilf would disagree. Nor would Carl... :cool:

Though Lawrence -- either a gifted amateur or a superb self promoter; perhaps a bit of both -- might disagree.

Steve the Planner
01-05-2011, 04:56 AM
Amateur/Professional/Whatever?

Starbuck: Burke's Lawrence piece was very good.

I particularly liked:

While experts in the ivory tower of academia may debate whether or not the military is best suited to restore civil and social services to a city after capture, the argument is moot. In many instances, such as Damascus the military may be the only organization around with the manpower and equipment to restore civic order.

There was a very unique group of Brits "walking around" the Middle East in the mid-1910's. Lawrence and Gertrude Bell are the two known in our histories.

They were studying societies, histories, architecture, structure of organizations...

I was amazed in the Burke article to not see any reference to Bell, who shared many a camel ride with Lawrence throughout that period. The two, as I understood it, were two branches of the same tree, and were constantly cross-fertilizing the Arab Nationalist Ideal, one coming from Egypt to Damascus, and the other coming through Basra and Mosul to the same spot.

As far as I know, the corresponding westerners that were "walking around" the Middle East (at different, but recent times) were Ryan Crocker and Rory Stewart. Neither was really successful in the military, but, like Lawrence as a practical matter, were really external influencers of the military.

I take a little discomfort with the military analyst's idea of correlating Lawrence/Bell with Petreaus/Nagl for a lot of reasons, but particularly because what Lawrence and Bell knew was social/cultural/organizational, which was adapted to military, while Petreaus/Nagl were military who, at most, learned enough social/cultural/organizational insights to play them for military purposes (often short-term ones).

The gap is most evident in the failings in Iraq to understand how to manage the civilian structure and systems, and in Afghanistan to grasp the anti-foreign aspect that is deep rooted and confounds our efforts.

Lawrence was a welcome chameleon in the Arab insurgency against the beastly and inept Turks, but was adamant and protective of their aspirations for self-rule.

I find that authors like William Dalrymple, who are Lawrence-like in their immersion in Northern Indian post-colonial society provide a very important set of insights into much of what Lawrence and Bell were studying and using.

Eating soup with a knife is a great symbol, in my mind, of the continuing failed effort to learn just enough to coopt a few people to temporarily join OUR side, but with little real comprehension of where enduring success lies.

The above quote is right on that a military can and should be capable of effective public administration when needed. We have not yet demonstrated that capacity.

Heck, even Lawrence could have just paid out some graft (Clear-Hold-Bribe) along the way and have travelled far but accomplished nothing.

Even with that, he and Bell's fixation with Arab Nationalism proved to be, in the best light, a premature aspiration, and in the worst light, the seeds of much of what led to future problems.

Maybe they just didn't build enough "capacity" before they left?

Clearly, aiming the right folks to the right challenges is the path to success (at the risk of being too much of a Toynbeeist).

Steve the Planner
01-05-2011, 05:41 AM
Found this in "Ottoman Administration of Iraq, 1890-1908" By Gökhan Çetinsaya:

“In your humble servant’s opinion, no idea has ever circulated in central government, other than the forcible repression and devastation of the Arabs. And they (the Arabs) have never been viewed as potential friends…The Arabs are not savage, but they fear and hate us.
Abdullatif Suphi Pasa to Sultan Abdulaziz, 1864”


Cetinsaya's Introduction uses this 1864 report as a frontispiece to explain the internal politics of the Ottoman Empire to its Arab territories, as they struggled to reform the struggling empire.

This stuff that Lawrence was feeding on was the air that Arabs breathed for generations: Hatred of the Turks.

How does this parallel our efforts in Kabul? Substituting Pashtuns for Arabs?

Which side are we on?

Is Lawrence's approach more useful to us or to Mullah Omar?

William F. Owen
01-05-2011, 11:59 AM
While experts in the ivory tower of academia may debate whether or not the military is best suited to restore civil and social services to a city after capture, the argument is moot. In many instances, such as Damascus the military may be the only organization around with the manpower and equipment to restore civic order.
This is not the debate. Those of us focussed on informing practice are well aware that Military Power can and should be used to restore order. That is restore and maintain it, so as a political entity can exploit it.
Martial Law works. Ask Allenby! - not Lawrence!

There was a very unique group of Brits "walking around" the Middle East in the mid-1910's. Lawrence and Gertrude Bell are the two known in our histories.
They were not unique. There were hundereds (possibly 1000+) of British Civil Servant and Army officers in the Mid-East who spoke Arabic and in many cases much better than Lawrence.
Lawrence was a welcome chameleon in the Arab insurgency against the beastly and inept Turks, but was adamant and protective of their aspirations for self-rule.
Lawrence was a Britisher Officer tasked with getting the Arabs to defeat the Ottoman Empire on behalf of the British. When he started to speak for the Arabs, he was basically guilty if a mis-conduct and should have been charged and dismissed. Only his self started publicity machine prevented that happening.

What most people don't get is that the old-school British Army is not proud of Lawrence. What you see today is the flow down of 1960's Liberal hero-worship. He contributed very little of use and probably did more damage with his dreaming that good. Of course what sells books is saying "Hero." Last time I counted there were 11 Lawrence Biographies.

Jedburgh
01-05-2011, 12:35 PM
...They were not unique. There were hundereds (possibly 1000+) of British Civil Servant and Army officers in the Mid-East who spoke Arabic and in many cases much better than Lawrence....
Priya Satia's Spies in Arabia: The Great War and the Cultural Foundations of Britain's Covert Empire in the Middle East (http://www.amazon.com/Spies-Arabia-Cultural-Foundations-Britains/dp/0195331419) provides excellent insight into the depth and nature of penetration of Brits in the Middle East during that period; not just civil servants and Army officers, but also academics and private citizens.

However, as a focused read on the subject, it has its faults and does not provide as much value as either Empires of Intelligence: Security Services and Colonial Disorder after 1914 (http://www.amazon.com/Empires-Intelligence-Security-Services-Colonial/dp/0520251172) or Military Intelligence and the Arab Revolt: The First Modern Intelligence War (http://www.amazon.com/Military-Intelligence-Arab-Revolt-Studies/dp/0415372801).

Bob's World
01-05-2011, 12:42 PM
Wilf,

I appreciate where you are coming from in regard to Lawrence. I can see where the British military establishment would have problems with the self-promotion, etc.

As a point of comparison though, I am curious how they feel about an officer who had a similar mission of building local militia to defeat a rebel insurrection. One of the great villains of U.S. military history is Colonel Banastre Tarleton for his operations in the Carolinas. How does the "old-school British Army" judge him?? Obviously the American bias casts him as a war criminal of the highest order. I would expect more favorable treatment at home, but I am curious.

Bob's World
01-05-2011, 12:52 PM
How does this parallel our efforts in Kabul? Substituting Pashtuns for Arabs?

Which side are we on?

Is Lawrence's approach more useful to us or to Mullah Omar?

So, we took the Lawrence approach when we sided with the Northern Alliance; to take the Lawrence approach today would be to side with Mullah Omar and the Taliban.

I would argue that our goals in AFPAK today are far different than British goals in the Middle East 100 years ago. For them, picking a side made sense. For the U.S. I recommend a more neutral approach is the best; as we have no desire to establish our dominion over the region, do we?

Our problem is that our words, and perhaps intent say: "We're here to help,"
but our actions, as guided by a COIN manual derived from such colonial ventures, say "We're here to establish a government that we approve of."

We're conflicted, and the results of that inner conflict speak for themselves.

Steve the Planner
01-05-2011, 04:50 PM
Wilf:

Couldn't have said it better myself.

Military power should set the conditions (security) and logistics for civilian operations.

Lawrence (and Bell) became too enthralled with love and admiration of the Arabs wrapped in a western sensibility about national self-determination and premature aspirations of the dream state of an Arab Nation.

Bob:

C'mon. We ARE picking sides.

Where you draw distinctions as to what we are not doing, it begs the question of why, if that is a well-trodden path to success, we are not following it.

Erich G. Simmers
02-08-2011, 01:26 AM
Hello, folks.

I was doing some research for my dissertation when a came across a 1933 letter from T. E. Lawrence to B. H. Liddell Hart. Lawrence is commenting on Liddel Hart's book The Ghost of Napoleon when he writes something I hadn't seen quoted anywhere else, which intrigued me:

So far as I can see strategy is eternal, & the same and true: but tactics is the ever-changing language through which it speaks. A general can learn as much from Belisarius as from Haig--but not a soldier. Soldiers have to know their means.*

First, I started wondering, "Do I agree with those characterizations of strategy and tactics? What about this comment 'soldiers have to know their means?'" Secondly, the contrast of Belisarius and Haig struck me. As the editor of the collection, Malcolm Brown, points out, Belisarius used "hit-and-run tactics" with minimal losses and Haig used "massed forces at high cost."** I have never been high on Haig, so I can't tell if Lawrence intends this as an ironic comment or not.

At any rate, I wanted to throw the quote out and see what members of the council thought about it. Anything strike you? Agree? Disagree? What say you, SWC?

* - T. E. Lawrence, T. E. Lawrence: The Selected Letters, edited by Malcolm Brown (New York: W. W. Norton, 1989), 473.

** - Ibid, 473n.

stanleywinthrop
02-08-2011, 05:35 AM
Judging by how much clausewitz gets qouted in awe on this board, I'd have to say that more posters will agree with it than they will actually admit.

Pete
02-08-2011, 06:03 AM
Stanley, as the great Karl might have said, evasiveness is merely an extension of obfuscation by other methods.

William F. Owen
02-08-2011, 08:46 AM
a.) Yes, soldiers have to understand their weapons performance and capabilities. So what? Lawrence is just coming to a realisation that most professional officers knew already.

b.) Comparing Haig, with Belisarius is an exercise in futility and shows an very poor understanding of the considerable challenges that Haig faced.

T.E. Lawrence was as much a charlatan and fraud as Liddell-Hart, albeit a possibly brave one. Why give any credence to a discussion of men poorly informed on the subject?

Hacksaw
02-08-2011, 12:58 PM
a.) Yes, soldiers have to understand their weapons performance and capabilities. So what? Lawrence is just coming to a realisation that most professional officers knew already.

b.) Comparing Haig, with Belisarius is an exercise in futility and shows an very poor understanding of the considerable challenges that Haig faced.

T.E. Lawrence was as much a charlatan and fraud as Liddell-Hart, albeit a possibly brave one. Why give any credence to a discussion of men poorly informed on the subject?

Some things are eternal... when I read the thread title... I immediately thought WILF will have a few pithy thoughts to share on this topic... low and behold, the most recent post was indeed from WILF... and none to my surprise reflected nearly exactly what I had presupposed...

I suppose that makes me a SWC junkie

Live well and row

Fuchs
02-08-2011, 01:34 PM
Tactics seem to be rather constant as well - the difference seems to be largely about the tools and weapons used.

Cannae is still a valid blueprint for encirclement battles, and Epaminondas introduced the Schwerpunkt into tactics with his oblique order.

stanleywinthrop
02-08-2011, 03:31 PM
Stanley, as the great Karl might have said, evasiveness is merely an extension of obfuscation by other methods.

methods other than what?

Firn
02-08-2011, 04:29 PM
Tactics seem to be rather constant as well - the difference seems to be largely about the tools and weapons used.

Cannae is still a valid blueprint for encirclement battles, and Epaminondas introduced the Schwerpunkt into tactics with his oblique order.

Indeed, just like ambushes in the Battle of Lake Trasimene or Battle of the Teutoburg Forest are still valid examples of the core tactical principles of an ambush. Even the Stone/Copper Age offers us pretty good examples of raids and ambushes.

IIRC, the "Art of War" has IMHO an apt quote:

There are no more than five musical notes, yet the variations in the five notes cannot all be heard.

There are no more than five basic colors, yet the variations in the five colors cannot all be seen.

There are no more than five basic flavors, yet the variations in the five flavors cannot all be tasted. ?

Today one might say that the political aims, strategy and METT-TC drive the tactical combination making every engagement singular.

It is also interesting to see how the basic tactical organisation of ancient warfare into Vanguard, Rearguard, Center, Right Wing, Left Wing have been used at smaller and smaller unit scale.

Erich G. Simmers
02-08-2011, 05:07 PM
I apologize ahead of time for two posts; I managed to exceed the maximum character count for single post. :o

Judging by how much clausewitz gets qouted in awe on this board, I'd have to say that more posters will agree with it than they will actually admit.

Honestly, that is part of the reason I wanted to see people's responses to it here.

T.E. Lawrence was as much a charlatan and fraud as Liddell-Hart, albeit a possibly brave one. Why give any credence to a discussion of men poorly informed on the subject?

I may not post here much, but I do read quite a bit and--like another poster said--I expected you to respond. I am glad you did, and I appreciate your thoughts on the matter. However, I will take issue with your argument.

First, you mischaracterize Lawrence and Liddell Hart. Whatever we may think about the veracity of their various claims or their theories about warfare, both men were hardly "poorly informed." Liddell Hart spent the better part of the twentieth-century writing and thinking war, so however wrong, deceitful, or whatever else he may be, he is not "poorly informed." Lawrence wrote this letter after not only his experience in the Arab Revolt but also his time as an advisor to Churchill. Again, whatever else he may be, he is not "poorly informed." Secondly, even if they are wrong about strategy or deceitful, both Lawrence and Liddell Hart warrant study, because they both continue to have significant influence on military thinking for better or ill. Ignoring them--especially in Lawrence's case, give his post-9/11 re-appearance in military rhetoric--will not make them go away.

I understand that you do not like these two men; that is fine, but an ad hominem attack does not offer anything new to the conversation. What do you think about this idea that strategy is something eternal and tactics is something ever-changing? Agree? Disagree?

b.) Comparing Haig, with Belisarius is an exercise in futility and shows an very poor understanding of the considerable challenges that Haig faced.

Third, he is not comparing the two; he is contrasting them. By writing that "[a] general can learn as much from Belisarius as from Haig," it is clear that he is stressing their differences, not their similarities.[1] It is important to note, also, that there is no evidence in the letter that the contrast reflects negatively on Haig. So far, I cannot find any other references to Haig in his letters, so I am not sure what he thought of the man. (For my thoughts on Haig, see below.)

Lastly, you are missing what I believe to be the most interesting point of the letter: that not only can an ancient strategist be as useful as a (at least for Lawrence) contemporary one, but also that strategy as a discourse is not some march of progress in which contemporary strategists have more to offer by virtue of either the retrospection of history or the benefit of technology. Instead, tactics for Lawrence seems to depend absolutely on place, time, and technology. If anyone disagrees with this reading, I have reproduced the whole letter for context below:


Dear L-H

I have read this [Liddell Hart's The Ghost of Napoleon] twice, once to get its idea, and once with my pencil in hand. It has been a queer experience--like going back, in memory, to school--for by myself (though with far less knowledge, and hesitatingly) I had trodden all this road before the war. It is a very good little book: modest, witty and convincing. You realize, of course, that you are swinging the pendulum, and that by 1960 it will have swung too far!

So far as I can see strategy is eternal, & the same and true: but tactics is the ever-changing language through which it speaks. A general can learn as much from Belisarius as from Haig--but not a soldier. Soldiers have to know their means.

I can't write an introduction: none is necessary. Your sub-title should be 'a tract for the times.'

Yours,

TES[2]


I have have highlighted to passages above, because Lawrence seems to be arguing against a general thrust of Liddell Hart's theories: that Germany lost in World War I because of "old" thinking (particularly its devotion to Clausewitz) and that "new" thinking (specifically Liddell Hart himself) would win wars. In fairness, I have not read Ghosts of Napoleon, because I cannot find a copy at the moment, but this is how others have characterized his argument.[3] I do not agree with either premise, but, as the kids say, "it is what it is." :) If Liddell Hart is saying that the British had been too slavishly devoted to "old" strategy, Lawrence is warning Liddell Hart that future military thinkers may ignore valuable "old" thinkers in favor of the "new" at their own peril. This is the "pendulum" that Lawrence is discussing. Instead, Lawrence seems to take the stand that there is no 'progress of ideas' when it comes to strategy, that across time and intellectual traditions there is a universal value. A "new" idea is not more valuable by virtual of its "newness." At the very least, Lawrence's suggested subtitle--"A Tract for the Times"--would seem to delimit Liddell Hart's theory to a specific point in history and to offset any sweeping generalization that 'new' will forever be better.

This issue that "new" is not necessarily better seems obvious, but it is worth thinking about the ascendency of Revolution in Military Affairs, first in the Soviet Union and later in the United States.[4] Indeed, the date that Lawrence names, 1960, as this tipping point of the pendulum coincides roughly with RMA's emergence in the Soviet Union.[5] While it may be a stretch to link Lawrence and RMA, he most definitely predicted the perils of a time in the future when people's obsession with the new and newness would cloud military thinking.

[Continued below...]

Erich G. Simmers
02-08-2011, 05:08 PM
What I find fascinating is that someone such as Lawrence who was obsessed with speed and technology whether it was motorcycles, armor, airplanes, or boats would be so measured in his approach to technology. In fact, Lawrence had been from a very cautious about the limits of airpower. He wrote in 1923 letter to A. P. Wavell:

"Bombing tribes is ineffective. I fancy that air-power may be effective against elaborate armies: but against irregulars it has no more than moral value. The Turks had plenty [of] machines, & used them freely against us--and never hurt us till the last phase, when we had brought 1000 of regulars on the raid against Deraa. Guerrilla tactics are a complete muffing of air-force.[6]

At the time, Lawrence's contemporaries were raving about "air-control methods" and bombing "the natives" into submission throughout Iraq and India. To reiterate my previous point about Lawrence's worth, this is another lesson that not only his contemporaries but also folks like Ullman and Wade should have thought about before they imagined their "new" means of warfare.[7]

a.) Yes, soldiers have to understand their weapons performance and capabilities. So what? Lawrence is just coming to a realisation that most professional officers knew already.

Following on what I have already stated, Lawrence seems to be arguing that--as you say--"weapons performance and capabilities" is something apart from and subservient to strategy and that is properly located on a tactical level. That, for me, is a pretty significant "so what," because--even after almost a decade of fighting insurgents--there are many who think that the answer to asymmetric threats whether it be near-peer competitors or insurgents will be some whiz-bang stealth airburst something-or-other to win the day. Moreover, there is a real value to the mindset that--whether it is a complex global insurgency or designing a better mousetrap--one, someone else may have considered the problem, and two, that person may have had a better solution even though they did not have the advantage of being born in your century and couldn't leverage Google, a Blackberry, an XM25, a JSF, or whatever fancy-pants tech that the future holds. The mind will forever be the greatest weapon, and many who came before did a better job honing that weapon.

Tactics seem to be rather constant as well - the difference seems to be largely about the tools and weapons used.

Cannae is still a valid blueprint for encirclement battles, and Epaminondas introduced the Schwerpunkt into tactics with his oblique order.

I was thinking along those lines as well, but I haven't quite made up my mind. (See my discussion of technology and tactics above.)

Off-Topic:

I, however, am no great fan of Haig. In my opinion, his greatest challenge was his own absolute lack of imagination and the existential burden of wasting hundreds of thousands of lives on an outmoded strategy that had been proven ineffective over a period of years. Let's contrast General Sir Herbert Plumer and Field Marshal Douglas Haig.

On June 7, 1917, General Plumer had utilized British miners to tunnel under key points of the German lines and planted high explosives. Ten-thousand Germands were killed instantly, and 7,000 panicked and were captured. As Paul Fussell writes, "Nine British divisions and seventy-two tanks attacked straightway on a ten-mile front. At the relatively low cost of 16,000 casualties they occupied Vimy Ridge."[8] The attack showed ingenuity and a willingness to divert from tactics that had produced an extremely costly stalemate for the duration of the war.

Even after this, Haig persisted with the same tactics. On July 31, 1917, British forces under the command of Haig attacked toward Passchendaele in what would be known as the Third Battle of Ypres. Direct frontal attack followed a prolonged artillery barrage. Fussell writes, "The bombardment churned up the ground; rain fell and turned the dirt to mud. I the mud the British assaulted until the attack finally attenuated three and a half months later. Price: 370,000 British dead and wounded and sick and frozen to death. Thousands literally drowned in the mud. It was a repose of the Somme, but worse."[9] I understand that Haig still has his defenders, but I have a hard time conceiving anyone, in good conscience, defending his strategy. To wit, I am not arguing he did not use armor properly or understand the machine gun; I am arguing that his strategy won out not because of its brilliance but because the German army had exhausted itself advances of 1918 and that he paid far too high a cost for that Pyrrhic victory.

Very respectfully,

Erich

-------

[1]. Lawrence, 473.

[2]. Ibid.

[3]. See John J. Mearsheimer, Liddell Hart and the Weight of History (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1988), 49-50.

[4]. See Frederick W. Kagan, Finding the Target: The Transformation of American Military Policy (New York: Encounter Books, 2006), ix-xix.

[5]. Ibid, xi.

[6]. Lawrence, 238-239.

[7]. See Harlan K. Ullman and James P. Wade, Shock And Awe: Achieving Rapid Dominance (National Defense University, 1996).

[8]. Paul Fussell, The Great War and Modern Memory (New York: Oxford University Press, 1977), 14-16.

[9]. Ibid, 16.

Erich G. Simmers
02-10-2011, 12:10 AM
T.E. Lawrence was as much a charlatan and fraud as Liddell-Hart, albeit a possibly brave one.

And, as a final aside, much of the Lawrence bashing is unfounded. Seven Pillars of Wisdom is stylized autobiography in line with what many of Lawrence's Modernist contemporaries were writing. As such, there are distortions--many of which are either openly acknowledged by Lawrence himself. However, history supports the vast majority of his role in and account of the Arab Revolt. In A Prince of Our Disorder, John E. Mack disputed many of the claims of his more critical autobiographers and found almost universal support from the men with which he served:

The subscriber's edition of Seven Pillars, of which about two hundred copies were printed in 1929, was sent to thirty officers who served in the Revolt, including such men as Allenby, Joyce, Newcombe, Young, Peake, Stirling, and Winterton. Copies were widely circulated and read by many others who had firsthand knowledge of the events of the Revolt. […] Neither Sterling nor any other of these men every questioned the veracity of Lawrence's account. Concerning the attack and seizure of Aqaba by land, for example--the single exploit of the campaigns for which Lawrence is best known--he has been accused of undeservedly claiming credit for its strategy. Suleiman Mousa in particular states that "the plan for capturing Aqaba was devices by Faisal and Auda in Wejh." But for Colonel Edouard Bremond, the leader of the French mission (who resented Lawrence), confirms that the plan was discussed in conference before 'Awdah abu-Tayyi joined in the Revolt…[1]

Mack similarly pokes holes in Richard Aldington's 1955 book Lawrence of Arabia: A Biographical Inquiry, which--frankly--is very lame in its criticism. Most notably, he outs Lawrence's parents who were not married when he was conceived and claims that (paraphrasing very slightly) Lawrence liked being raped in Deraa when he was in Turkish captivity. The book was almost universally panned by the men who were there with Lawrence. Many wrote responses to the book:

When Aldington attacked Lawrence as a charlatan and a fraud he aroused most intensely the ire of Lawrence's fellow officers. The angry reaction of Captain L. H. Gilman, who commanded an armored-car battery in close association with Lawrence until near the end of the campaign, is typical… […] Gilman then proceeds to refute Aldington on specific matters of which he had firsthand knowledge, such as Lawrence's presence and courage in operations against the Hijaz railroad that Aldington had denied.[2]

I can go on citing first-hand accounts of Lawrence in Mack's book, but I will assume that the word of the soldiers who fought with him will be good enough…

(I would have included that in my early manifesto, but most of my books are still boxed up from a move.)

-------

[1]. John E. Mack, The Prince of Our Disorder (Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1976), 177-178.

[2]. Ibid, 278.

Pete
02-10-2011, 03:07 AM
Lawrence was a strange guy. Among his contradictions was his talent for "backing into the limelight," being self-promoting and self-effacing at the same time. His fame started with the American journalist Lowell Thomas and his stage show shortly after the war. To my way of thinking Lawrence's accomplishments shouldn't be categorically dismissed but at the same time they shouldn't be taken completely at face value either.

Whenever an outsider to the military serves in a war and later claims to have been a rare genuis casting pearls before the swine of the regular officer corps the institution usually closes ranks against him. The rumors about Lawrence's sexuality have also made him something of a hero among non-military types who for the most part have never served in uniform but still believe themselves to be intellectually superior to the dullards of the professional officer caste.

Steve the Planner
02-10-2011, 03:29 AM
Erich:

Like Hacksaw, we were all waiting for Wilf's response, which doesn't need reprinting. His personal accomplishments may warrant the status of Hero, like with Charles Lindbergh, but I wouldn't waste much time on either's political advice.

My problem with Lawrence and Bell is not military, but political. They were deep believers, of not primary promoters of the very poorly conceived notion of a great Arab Nation which was like jumping from crawling to Moon Landing in an afternoon.

Remembering that, as much as these Arabists loved the notions of Arab history, the Arab culture/politics of old had been devastated by Mongols in the 1200's, followed by Ottomans who, for the most part, may have been worse as bad for Arabs as the Mongols. These folks that Lawrence and Ms. Bell were working with had a long way to go just to establish "some" countries, and certainly not their Dream Palace.

The continuing gap between the concept of the Caliphate and its reality is, in fact, the broad diversity of the Arab and Muslim world. The breadth and acceptance of Islam by so many diverse peoples is, for political/governance types, a built-in limitation.

No surprise about Lawrence's disdain for air power against desert peoples. Look at the Bomber Harris experiences in Northern Iraq.

Erich G. Simmers
02-10-2011, 03:24 PM
I am going to defend Lawrence on a few points here, but honestly whether or not Lawrence is an admirable guy is besides the point. There are far better defenses of and attacks on Lawrence than we're writing here. What I have never heard discussed before is this discussion of strategy as eternal. Anyone disagree that strategy is in anyway eternal?

Lawrence was a strange guy. Among his contradictions was his talent for "backing into the limelight," being self-promoting and self-effacing at the same time. His fame started with the American journalist Lowell Thomas and his stage show shortly after the war. To my way of thinking Lawrence's accomplishments shouldn't be categorically dismissed but at the same time they shouldn't be taken completely at face value either.

General Allenby and another war correspondent named W. T. Massey both praised his centrality to the Arab Revolt before Lowell Thomas's stage show.[1] Also, it is worth noting that the dude wanted to enlist after the war and live out his life in obscurity. His continued celebrity was more of burden than anything else. It is evident throughout his letters.

Whenever an outsider to the military serves in a war and later claims to have been a rare genuis casting pearls before the swine of the regular officer corps the institution usually closes ranks against him. The rumors about Lawrence's sexuality have also made him something of a hero among non-military types who for the most part have never served in uniform but still believe themselves to be intellectually superior to the dullards of the professional officer caste.This is unfair. I have found no evidence that Lawrence remotely viewed himself or his peers that way. As one example, Lawrence told Liddell Hart that his theory and practice of war would take no more than 10 pages to write. (I am not going to dig for the citation right now, because I feel silly footnoting these posts so much and have dissertation to get back to.) He certainly didn't think what he did was rocket science, and he gave amble credit to other highly capable advisers and trainers like Herbert Garland.

His actual addresses to the officer corps were stuff like his 1917 "The Twenty-Seven Articles of T. E. Lawrence."[2] It was originally intended as a brief in a secret journal called The Arab Bulletin. There is a reason Kilcullen modeled his "Twenty-Eight Articles" on it; it is a solid advice to Lawrence's contemporaries as foreign military advisors. I came across a letter to one of his commanders yesterday where Lawrence wrote (paraphrasing), "Don't stick any of this report in the Bulletin--you're making too big a deal out of me." (Again, I'm not going to dig for the letter--I'll edit later if I find it in the course of my actual day job.)

As for Seven Pillars, his rationale for writing the book was three-fold: 1. work through his own trauma and guilt over what happened during and immediately following the war; 2. vent his frustrations about the political settlement; and 3. join his high-art literary friends as a "man of letters." (Lawrence was friends with many of the major writers of the day; you folks can make what you will out of this last one.)

Lastly, I can say from experience that Lawrence is no hero to academics--for any reason, homosexuality or otherwise. For example, read Edward Said. Kaja Silverman (who I mentioned below) is more measured, but there is definitely no love. In fact, my peers give me a hard time for showing an interest in him--much less saying anything favorable of him.

Erich:

Like Hacksaw, we were all waiting for Wilf's response, which doesn't need reprinting. His personal accomplishments may warrant the status of Hero, like with Charles Lindbergh, but I wouldn't waste much time on either's political advice.

My problem with Lawrence and Bell is not military, but political. They were deep believers, of not primary promoters of the very poorly conceived notion of a great Arab Nation which was like jumping from crawling to Moon Landing in an afternoon.

Remembering that, as much as these Arabists loved the notions of Arab history, the Arab culture/politics of old had been devastated by Mongols in the 1200's, followed by Ottomans who, for the most part, may have been worse as bad for Arabs as the Mongols. These folks that Lawrence and Ms. Bell were working with had a long way to go just to establish "some" countries, and certainly not their Dream Palace.

The continuing gap between the concept of the Caliphate and its reality is, in fact, the broad diversity of the Arab and Muslim world. The breadth and acceptance of Islam by so many diverse peoples is, for political/governance types, a built-in limitation.

No surprise about Lawrence's disdain for air power against desert peoples. Look at the Bomber Harris experiences in Northern Iraq.

Steve:

I agree with you on this point about Lawrence and Bell although Lawrence's actual views are probably messier than either of us would present them. At times, Lawrence seems oddly conscious of points you raise:


A first difficulty of the Arab movement was to say who the arabs were. Being a manufactured people, their name had been changing in sense slowly year by year. Once it meant an Arabian. There was a country called Arabia; but this was nothing to the point. There was a language called Arabic; and in it lay the test. It was the current tongue of Syria and Palestine, of Mesopotamia, and of the great peninsula called Arabia on the map. Before the Moslem conquest, these areas were inhabited by diverse peoples…[2]

This square of land, as large as India, formed the homeland of Semites, in which no foreign race had kept a permanent footing, though Egyptians, Hittites, Philistines, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Turks and Franks had variously tried.[3]Conversely, Lawrence did try to set up a post-war Middle East very much in his image and in the interests much as you say. A scholar named Kaja Silverman lays out the "messiness" of this construction of the Middle East pretty well.[4] As a Westerner imposing this "nation in a box" strategy, of course it is a fantasy.

At any rate, I am not proposing we adopt his politics, thinking about war, or anything of the sort. I just didn't think some of the characterizations of him were fair. Besides, I thought the strategy vs tactics bit was fascinating. Maybe, it's just me.

-------

[1]. Mack, 175-176.

[2]. T. E. Lawrence, Seven Pillars of Wisdom: A Triumph (1922 edition on my Kindle, not sure how to cite these damn things).

[3]. Ibid.

[4]. Kaja Silverman, "White Skin, Brown Masks: The Double Mimesis, or With Lawrence in Arabia," Differences 1, no. 3: 17-18.

SWJ Blog
07-05-2011, 05:40 PM
A Theoretical Exploration of Lawrence of Arabia’s Inner Meanings on Guerrilla Warfare (http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/2011/07/a-theoretical-exploration-of-l/)

Entry Excerpt:

A Theoretical Exploration of Lawrence of Arabia’s Inner Meanings on Guerrilla Warfare
by Basil Aboul-Enein and Youssef Aboul-Enein

Download the Full Article: A Theoretical Exploration of Lawrence of Arabia’s Inner Meanings on Guerrilla Warfare (http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/journal/docs-temp/804-aboul-enein.pdf)

The concept of guerrilla warfare dates back as far as ancient times. Since the earliest days it has been a tactic of war used by every class of man against those defined as invaders and oppressors. Hannibal Barca’s early victories against Rome are owed considerably to how he acted unexpectedly by taking an impossible route through the Alps to ambush the Roman armies. His ruses were so constant, his stratagems so subtle that the Romans felt constantly insecure, off-balance, and on edge. Hannibal was stymied by Quintus Fabius Maximus, who turned the Roman army into virtually a guerrilla force. His forces shadowed Hannibal’s marches, harassed his foragers, cut off stragglers, nipped off stray patrols, but Maximus never allowed himself to be drawn into a full-scale fight.

Download the Full Article: A Theoretical Exploration of Lawrence of Arabia’s Inner Meanings on Guerrilla Warfare (http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/journal/docs-temp/804-aboul-enein.pdf)

Capt Basil Aboul-Enein, USAF is stationed at Columbus AFB in Mississippi and recently completed his Masters in Military History with Norwich University. His brother Commander Youssef Aboul-Enein is Adjunct Islamic Studies Chair at the Industrial College of the Armed Forces, and author of “Militant Islamist Ideology: Understanding the Global Threat,” (Naval Institute Press, 2010). Both brothers share a passion for educating America’s military leaders on Islam, Islamist Political Theory, and Militant Islamist Groups. They wish to thank Ms. Dorothy Corley, who recently graduated with her B.A. in International Relations from Boston University, for her edits and discussion that enhanced this work.



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SWJ Blog
06-29-2014, 03:53 PM
What We Can Learn From Lawrence of Arabia (http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/what-we-can-learn-from-lawrence-of-arabia)

Entry Excerpt:



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SWJ Blog
10-16-2015, 02:42 PM
How Would Lawrence of Arabia Defeat the Islamic State? (http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/how-would-lawrence-of-arabia-defeat-the-islamic-state)

Entry Excerpt:



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davidbfpo
01-08-2016, 01:54 PM
Hat tip to an article on WoTR which provided a link to this website:http://www.telstudies.org/index.shtml

It explains:This T. E. Lawrence Studies website is edited and maintained by Jeremy Wilson (http://www.telstudies.org/jeremy_wislon.shtml). Its content draws on the research archive formed through work on Lawrence of Arabia, The Authorised Biography and the ongoing Castle Hill Press edition of T. E. Lawrence's writings. Expenses maintaining the site are funded by Castle Hill Press. The site has no connection with any other organisation.

omarali50
01-08-2016, 03:54 PM
A few years ago, British Trostkyite Tariq Ali claimed that Lawrence had worked on some sort of secret mission to destabilize Afghanistan in 1927 and while in India, had married Akbar Jahan (who was later the wife of Kashmiri leader Sheikh Abdullah). Comrade Tariq has a very fertile imagination and my rule-of-thumb is to mistrust his stories until and unless confirmed by 3 more reliable sources. So a question for Lawrence fans here, any chance any of this is true?

http://lahore.city-history.com/places/Nedous-Hotel-and-Lawrence-of-Arabia-in-Lahore/

(I have begun to realize that I mistrust Tariq Ali far more than most Western observers do. I think I am right, but feel free to correct me)

davidbfpo
01-08-2016, 10:53 PM
A few years ago, British Trostkyite Tariq Ali claimed that Lawrence had worked on some sort of secret mission to destabilize Afghanistan in 1927 and while in India, had married Akbar Jahan (who was later the wife of Kashmiri leader Sheikh Abdullah). Comrade Tariq has a very fertile imagination and my rule-of-thumb is to mistrust his stories until and unless confirmed by 3 more reliable sources. So a question for Lawrence fans here, any chance any of this is true?

I have just emailed Jeremy Wilson and asked that question. Hopefully he will reply!

davidbfpo
01-09-2016, 08:45 AM
Via an email:This is a myth. Sensational (and completely fictional) stories appeared in the popular Indian press during the autumn of 1928, to the effect that Lawrence was working for British Intelligence in Afghanistan. Evidently someone believed them and built a personal story around them. This isn't the only case in TEL's biography where a fictional press story generated what at first sight looks like supporting evidence. Likewise, there were countess press stories in the 1920s and 1930s about his alleged spying activities in different parts of the world. The stories even continued after he died, with foreign journalists claiming that his death had been faked.....

omarali50
01-09-2016, 06:12 PM
Thanks. I was always sure Tariq Ali's theory about his role in Afghanistan was bunk simply because there is no evidence that Lawrence spoke any of the local languages (knowing Arabic would not get him far in inciting tribal revolt in Afghanistan).
And anyway the whole notion of Lawrence being some sort of "tribal revolt causing imperial specialist" who could be dropped into any part of the world at a moment's notice to start British imperialism's latest effort to stop progress in the third world is a Tariq Ali trope, so always likey to be false.

But I was more interested in the wedding story. It would be interesting to find out how that came to be? Maybe Tariq Ali really did hear that story from someone in Pakistan.
While the chances of Lawrence getting married in Lahore seem to be slim, it would have been interesting to find out how the wedding story started. Akbar Jahan was a prominent woman in later life. Who started the story about her being the ex-Mrs Lawrence?
It is likey that we will never know.

SWJ Blog
04-01-2016, 05:01 PM
Bullet Proves Lawrence of Arabia’s Tall Tales of Desert Heroics Weren’t as Outlandish as Cynics Said (http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/bullet-proves-lawrence-of-arabia%E2%80%99s-tall-tales-of-desert-heroics-weren%E2%80%99t-as-outlandish-as-cynics)

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SWJ Blog
04-01-2016, 05:01 PM
Bullet Proves Lawrence of Arabia’s Tall Tales of Desert Heroics Weren’t as Outlandish as Cynics Said (http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/bullet-proves-lawrence-of-arabia%E2%80%99s-tall-tales-of-desert-heroics-weren%E2%80%99t-as-outlandish-as-cynics)

Read the full post (http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/bullet-proves-lawrence-of-arabia%E2%80%99s-tall-tales-of-desert-heroics-weren%E2%80%99t-as-outlandish-as-cynics) and make any comments at the SWJ Blog (http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog).

davidbfpo
04-03-2016, 11:56 AM
With the publicity for one bullet The Guardian adds:Faulkner’s Lawrence of Arabia’s War, to be published by Yale University Press later this month, aims to rewrite the history of the maverick’s legendary military campaigns, looking too at the decline of the Ottoman Empire, the role of Bedouin tribes (http://www.theguardian.com/world/2011/feb/15/bedouin-accuse-jordan-queen-corruption), growing Arab nationalism and western imperial ambition.

Saunders’ book, Desert Insurgency: Archaeology, TE Lawrence and the Great Arab Revolt, to be published by Oxford University Press next year, will detail how findings from investigations at armoured car raiding camps, Ottoman army campsites, desert fortifications, and train ambush sites have helped chart the origins of modern guerrilla (http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/cifamerica/2011/jun/15/james-okeefe-yes-men-moveon) warfare.
Link:http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/apr/01/bullet-corroborate-te-lawrence-of-arabia-account-arab-revolt? (http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/apr/01/bullet-corroborate-te-lawrence-of-arabia-account-arab-revolt?CMP=share_btn_tw)

davidbfpo
05-08-2016, 10:19 PM
A complimentary review of Faulkner’s Lawrence of Arabia’s War (as above post) and here is one phrase:...a rich and highly readable interdisciplinary study....Link:http://www.spectator.co.uk/2016/04/t-e-lawrence-from-young-romantic-to-shame-shattered-veteran/

AdamG
06-07-2016, 04:19 PM
Bullet Proves Lawrence of Arabia’s Tall Tales of Desert Heroics Weren’t as Outlandish as Cynics Said (http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/bullet-proves-lawrence-of-arabia%E2%80%99s-tall-tales-of-desert-heroics-weren%E2%80%99t-as-outlandish-as-cynics)

Read the full post (http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/bullet-proves-lawrence-of-arabia%E2%80%99s-tall-tales-of-desert-heroics-weren%E2%80%99t-as-outlandish-as-cynics) and make any comments at the SWJ Blog (http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog).

Additional thoughts -
http://www.sightm1911.com/lib/history/telawrence.htm

AdamG
06-07-2016, 04:23 PM
If you're reading this thread and have done any substantive off-the-beaten-path reading about StJohn Philby (the anti-Lawrence), shoot me a PM.
http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showthread.php?t=10325

SWJ Blog
02-12-2017, 02:37 PM
T.E. Lawrence and the Desert Bromance That Sold America on a War (http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/te-lawrence-and-the-desert-bromance-that-sold-america-on-a-war)

Entry Excerpt:



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Read the full post (http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/te-lawrence-and-the-desert-bromance-that-sold-america-on-a-war) and make any comments at the SWJ Blog (http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog).
This forum is a feed only and is closed to user comments.

davidbfpo
02-28-2017, 09:44 PM
The historian and archaeologist Neil Faulkner has popped up in several posts due to his field research and writing. It is a long story, but I am due to meet him in April and this 2010 article of his 'Guerrilla of Arabia: How one of Britain's most brilliant military tacticians created the Taliban's battle strategy' will be of interest.
Link:http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/guerrilla-of-arabia-how-one-of-britains-most-brilliant-military-tacticians-created-the-talibans-2081555.html

davidbfpo
05-13-2017, 02:15 PM
The Changing Character of War Programme @ Oxford University, has a half-day conference on July 10th 2017, entitled 'T E Lawrence, The Fall of Aqaba & Global War', free and requires registration. Amongst the speakers are:Dr John Peaty, Dr Neil Faulkner, Gp Capt John Alexander, Maj Dr Paul Knight and CCW Director, Dr Rob Johnson.Link:http://www.ccw.ox.ac.uk/events/2017/7/10/t-e-lawrence-the-fall-of-aqaba-global-war