Skip to comments.Lawrence (of Arabia's) Unhappy Legacy Still Casts a Shadow over the Middle East
Posted on 05/19/2005 2:14:50 PM PDT by quidnunc
Late in the morning on May 13, 1935, a middle-aged motorcyclist swerved to avoid two cyclists in a leafy Dorset lane. He lost control, flew over his handlebars and hit the road headfirst. Six days later 70 years ago today he died, having never regained consciousness. The motorcyclist was T E Lawrence, the hero of the Arab Revolt, the causes and consequences of which have an ongoing significance today.
When the Ottomans joined the Germans' side in the First World War, the Ottoman Sultan proclaimed a jihad against Britain. Chilled by this underhand appeal to their 100 million Muslim subjects, the British approached Sherif Husein, a direct descendant of Mohammed, who also ruled Mecca, and encouraged him to revolt. They hoped that a dissonant rebellion against the Ottomans in Islam's capital city would drown out the Sultan's call to Holy War.
Won over by a vague promise of an empire encompassing Arabia, modern Israel, Syria, Jordan and Iraq, which Britain never anticipated having to honour, Husein agreed. When his uprising began, in June 1916, the Ottomans were ejected from Mecca. But the momentum of the revolt quickly evaporated in the ferocious summer heat and in London a fierce debate ensued over whether troops should be sent to prevent the Ottomans recapturing Mecca, which they feared might trigger Islamic unrest around the Empire. Later that year Lawrence, then a 27-year-old intelligence officer who had learnt Arabic as an archaeologist in the region before the war, was sent in by the opponents of direct intervention and asked to produce a partisan report supporting their cause.
(Excerpt) Read more at telegraph.co.uk ...
As great a movie as 'Lawrence of Arabia' was, the T.E. Lawrence source book, "Seven Pillars of Wisdom", has been called 'Seven Pillars of BS'. He supposedly greatly exxaggerated his role in the conflicts described.
Very good article. Thanks for posting.
Sorry, I won't read anything debunking Lawrence.
Thanks, I'll check the library. I tried to get through "Seven Pillars of Wisdom," but I just couldn't! Maybe next time I'm in the hospital.
I think if you're going to blame Lawrence for the Middle East mess, you should blame Gertrude Bell equally.
The Turks roundly deny the buggery scenes in the Seven Pillars Of Wisdom, BTW.
The only perfect movie ever made. (Hell of a nose!)
If that is true, why would he turn down all the medals and high ranking positions he was offered? I don't believe it.
Pretenders like 'The English Patient' don't even compare.
How would you know whether or not the article is debubnking Lawrence id you won't read it?
As a matter of fact, the author is taking up cudgles with the British government, not Lawsrence.
The excerpting made it hard to tell.
Nothing compares. Perfect.
Lawrence of Arabia. Oh how gay.
And "debubnking" and "taking up cudgles" are almost worth a Typso Ping, but I'm having a foggy afternoon and can't think what bad jokes can be made from "cudgles." :-)/
Remember what Gunnery Sgt. Hartman had to say about people named Lawrence. :-)
No, please refresh our memories. Anytime a Gunny has something to say, it's worth listening to--or else.
"How tall are you, private?"
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