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Old 02-10-2011   #101
Erich G. Simmers
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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?

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Originally Posted by Pete View Post
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.

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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.

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Originally Posted by Steve the Planner View Post
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:

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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]
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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.
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Old 07-05-2011   #102
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Default A Theoretical Exploration of Lawrence of Arabia’s Inner Meanings on Guerrilla Warfare

A Theoretical Exploration of Lawrence of Arabia’s Inner Meanings on Guerrilla Warfare

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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

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

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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Old 06-29-2014   #103
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Default What We Can Learn From Lawrence of Arabia

What We Can Learn From Lawrence of Arabia

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Old 10-16-2015   #104
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Default How Would Lawrence of Arabia Defeat the Islamic State?

How Would Lawrence of Arabia Defeat the Islamic State?

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Old 01-08-2016   #105
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Default A resource to plunder

Hat tip to an article on WoTR which provided a link to this website:http://www.telstudies.org/index.shtml

It explains:
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This T. E. Lawrence Studies website is edited and maintained by Jeremy Wilson. 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.
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Old 01-08-2016   #106
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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/place...bia-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)
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Old 01-08-2016   #107
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Originally Posted by omarali50 View Post
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!
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Old 01-09-2016   #108
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Default Jeremy Wilson's reply

Via an email:
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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.....
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Old 01-09-2016   #109
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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.
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Old 04-01-2016   #110
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Default Bullet Proves Lawrence of Arabia’s Tall Tales of Desert Heroics Weren’t as Outlandish

Bullet Proves Lawrence of Arabia’s Tall Tales of Desert Heroics Weren’t as Outlandish as Cynics Said

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Old 04-01-2016   #111
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Default TE Lawrence: a merged thread

Bullet Proves Lawrence of Arabia’s Tall Tales of Desert Heroics Weren’t as Outlandish as Cynics Said

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Old 04-03-2016   #112
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Default Two books coming

With the publicity for one bullet The Guardian adds:
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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, 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 warfare.
Link:http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/apr/01/bullet-corroborate-te-lawrence-of-arabia-account-arab-revolt?
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Old 05-08-2016   #113
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A complimentary review of Faulkner’s Lawrence of Arabia’s War (as above post) and here is one phrase:
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...a rich and highly readable interdisciplinary study....
Link:http://www.spectator.co.uk/2016/04/t...tered-veteran/
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Old 06-07-2016   #114
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Additional thoughts -
http://www.sightm1911.com/lib/history/telawrence.htm
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Old 06-07-2016   #115
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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/...ad.php?t=10325
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Old 02-12-2017   #116
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Default T.E. Lawrence and the Desert Bromance That Sold America on a War

T.E. Lawrence and the Desert Bromance That Sold America on a War

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Old 02-28-2017   #117
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Default Did the Taliban follow Lawrence's advice?

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/wo...s-2081555.html
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Old 05-13-2017   #118
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Default Oxford Conference

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:
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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/...aba-global-war
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