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Thread: TE Lawrence: a merged thread

  1. #61
    Council Member Umar Al-Mokhtār's Avatar
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    Default C'mon Wilf,

    it's just a tad bit of hagiographic rhetoric. Even in death TEL still manages to “back into the spotlight.”
    "What is best in life?" "To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of the women."

  2. #62
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Umar Al-Mokhtār View Post
    it's just a tad bit of hagiographic rhetoric. Even in death TEL still manages to “back into the spotlight.”
    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.
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
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  3. #63
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    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.

  4. #64
    Council Member Umar Al-Mokhtār's Avatar
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    Default I do admire TEL...

    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.
    "What is best in life?" "To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of the women."

  5. #65
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    Default NYT Book Review: Arabian Knight

    NYT Book Review: Arabian Knight

    Entry Excerpt:

    Arabian Knight - New York Times book review of Hero: The Life and Legend of Lawrence of Arabia 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."



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  6. #66
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    Default Book Review: Hero...Lawrence of Arabia

    Book Review: Hero...Lawrence of Arabia

    Entry Excerpt:

    Hero: The Life and Legend of Lawrence of Arabia

    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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  7. #67
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default TE Lawrence - gathering the threads

    On reflection there are several threads on TE Lawrence and it would make sense to combine them - prompted by the new book on him.
    davidbfpo

  8. #68
    Council Member Starbuck's Avatar
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    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/jou.../183-burke.pdf

  9. #69
    Council Member Starbuck's Avatar
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    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.

  10. #70
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Starbuck View Post
    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

    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.
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
    Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition

  11. #71
    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    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.
    Robert C. Jones
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    "The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

  12. #72
    Council Member Infanteer's Avatar
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    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.

  13. #73
    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    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.
    Robert C. Jones
    Intellectus Supra Scientia
    (Understanding is more important than Knowledge)

    "The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

  14. #74
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    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.
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
    Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition

  15. #75
    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    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.
    Robert C. Jones
    Intellectus Supra Scientia
    (Understanding is more important than Knowledge)

    "The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

  16. #76
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    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.
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
    Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition

  17. #77
    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    Sometimes the "hobbiest" sees what the professional cannot. Such as the small distinction that not all violence for political purposes is warfare!

    (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.)
    Robert C. Jones
    Intellectus Supra Scientia
    (Understanding is more important than Knowledge)

    "The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

  18. #78
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Well, at least the denizens of the

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    ...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 professional
    Having 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...
    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... ) 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...

  19. #79
    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    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.
    Robert C. Jones
    Intellectus Supra Scientia
    (Understanding is more important than Knowledge)

    "The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

  20. #80
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Perhaps...

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    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...
    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...

    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...
    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...

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

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