An Afghan soldier opened fire on Monday inside the country's defence ministry, killing an unknown number of people, a ministry spokesman said.
The French defence minister, who is visiting Afghanistan, was the target of the attack in Kabul, the Taliban said, claiming responsibility.
Spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said insurgents infiltrated the ministry and planned the attack to coincide with the visit of the French defence minister - who they believed was meeting with officials inside the compound. Mujahid said there were suicide attackers in addition to gunmen.
French officials said the minister, Gerard Longuet, was not inside the ministry during the attack.
Longuet arrived on Sunday and had been meeting with French troops in the east. He did not go to the south as previously reported, de Lapresle said. About 3850 French troops are deployed in Afghanistan as part of the NATO mission.
Re-posted again, as it will be whenever the occasion -- and so many occasions claim to inform against me -- warrants:
15 July 2010
Coby Beck On "How To Talk To A Climate Skeptic" (Bis)
31 March 2010
How To Talk To A Climate Skeptic (Booster Shot)
One More Time: How To Talk to A Climate Skeptic
How to Talk to a Climate Skeptic
Below is a complete listing of the articles in "How to Talk to a Climate Skeptic," a series by Coby Beck containing responses to the most common skeptical arguments on global warming. There are four separate taxonomies; arguments are divided by:
Coby Beck On "How To Talk To A Climate Skeptic" (Bis)
Wednesday, 31 March 2010
How To Talk To A Climate Skeptic (Booster Shot)
One More Time: How To Talk to A Climate Skeptic
How to Talk to a Climate Skeptic
Below is a complete listing of the articles in "How to Talk to a Climate Skeptic," a series by Coby Beck containing responses to the most common skeptical arguments on global warming. There are four separate taxonomies; arguments are divided by:
Mr. Bush has focused on military force and provided more than $10 billion — an extraordinary sum in the foreign-aid world — to the highly unpopular government of President Pervez Musharraf. This approach has failed: the backlash has radicalized Pakistan’s tribal areas so that they now nurture terrorists in ways that they never did before 9/11.
Mr. Mortenson, a frumpy, genial man from Montana, takes a diametrically opposite approach, and he has spent less than one-ten-thousandth as much as the Bush administration. He builds schools in isolated parts of Pakistan and Afghanistan, working closely with Muslim clerics and even praying with them at times.
The only thing that Mr. Mortenson blows up are boulders that fall onto remote roads and block access to his schools.
Mr. Mortenson has become a legend in the region, his picture sometimes dangling like a talisman from rearview mirrors, and his work has struck a chord in America as well. His superb book about his schools, “Three Cups of Tea,” came out in 2006 and initially wasn’t reviewed by most major newspapers. Yet propelled by word of mouth, the book became a publishing sensation: it has spent the last 74 weeks on the paperback best-seller list, regularly in the No. 1 spot.
Now Mr. Mortenson is fending off several dozen film offers. “My concern is that a movie might endanger the well-being of our students,” he explains.
Mr. Mortenson found his calling in 1993 after he failed in an attempt to climb K2, a Himalayan peak, and stumbled weakly into a poor Muslim village. The peasants nursed him back to health, and he promised to repay them by building the village a school. [this story -- of stumbling into the remote village of Kophe, and being nursed back to health, and finding how to deal correctly with Muslim villagers, humanly, humanely, relying on appeals to our common humanity, blah blah-- has been found to be a complete fabrication]
Scrounging the money was a nightmare — his 580 fund-raising letters to prominent people generated one check, from Tom Brokaw — and Mr. Mortenson ended up selling his beloved climbing equipment and car. But when the school was built, he kept going. Now his aid group, the Central Asia Institute, has 74 schools in operation. His focus is educating girls.
To get a school, villagers must provide the land and the labor to assure a local “buy-in,” and so far the Taliban have not bothered his schools. One anti-American mob rampaged through Baharak, Afghanistan, attacking aid groups — but stopped at the school that local people had just built with Mr. Mortenson. “This is our school,” the mob leaders decided, and they left it intact.
Mr. Mortenson has had setbacks, including being kidnapped for eight days in Pakistan’s wild Waziristan region. It would be naïve to think that a few dozen schools will turn the tide in Afghanistan or Pakistan.
Still, he notes that the Taliban recruits the poor and illiterate, and he also argues that when women are educated they are more likely to restrain their sons. Five of his teachers are former Taliban, and he says it was their mothers who persuaded them to leave the Taliban; that is one reason he is passionate about educating girls. [who knows how much of the lying Mortenson's story is true]
So I have this fantasy: Suppose that the United States focused less on blowing things up in Pakistan’s tribal areas and more on working through local aid groups to build schools, simultaneously cutting tariffs on Pakistani and Afghan manufactured exports. There would be no immediate payback, but a better-educated and more economically vibrant Pakistan would probably be more resistant to extremism.["probably be more resistant" -- why? Only if one pretends that the problem with Muslim hostility toward Infidels is poverty, and not Islam -- and the nicholas-kristofs of this world have to believe that, cannot believe otherwise]
“Schools are a much more effective bang for the buck than missiles or chasing some Taliban around the country,” says Mr. Mortenson, who is an Army veteran. [this is the received wisdom that underlies the idiocy of American policy in Afghanistan, and that all these officers, from Petraeus on down, cannot possibly allow themselves to challenge]
Each Tomahawk missile that the United States fires in Afghanistan costs at least $500,000. That’s enough for local aid groups to build more than 20 schools, and in the long run those schools probably do more to destroy the Taliban.
The Pentagon, which has a much better appreciation for the limits of military power than the Bush administration as a whole, placed large orders for “Three Cups of Tea” and invited Mr. Mortenson to speak.
“I am convinced that the long-term solution to terrorism in general, and Afghanistan specifically, is education,” Lt. Col. Christopher Kolenda, who works on the Afghan front lines, said in an e-mail in which he raved about Mr. Mortenson’s work. “The conflict here will not be won with bombs but with books. ... The thirst for education here is palpable.”
Military force is essential in Afghanistan to combat the Taliban. But over time, in Pakistan and Afghanistan alike, the best tonic against militant fundamentalism will be education and economic opportunity.
So a lone Montanan staying at the cheapest guest houses has done more to advance U.S. interests in the region than the entire military and foreign policy apparatus of the Bush administration.
While the publishing industry waited to see whether it faced the embarrassment of yet another partly fabricated memoir, Greg Mortenson, the co-author of the best-selling “Three Cups of Tea,” a book popular with the Pentagon for its inspirational lessons on Afghanistan and Pakistan, forcefully countered a CBS News report on Sunday that questioned the facts of his book and the management of his charitable organization.
The report could puncture a hole in the uplifting narrative of “Three Cups of Tea,” which has fed a charity run by Mr. Mortenson, the Central Asia Institute. The institute has built schools, mostly for girls, in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The report has also revived a chronic concern in the publishing industry over the accuracy of nonfiction memoirs, which are typically only lightly fact-checked by publishers, if at all.
Viking, the imprint of Penguin Group USA that published “Three Cups of Tea,” declined to comment on the book or answer questions about how it was vetted.
The CBS News report questioned, in particular, a central anecdote of the book that was as dramatic as it was inspirational: in 1993, Mr. Mortenson was retreating after failing to reach the summit of K2, the world’s second highest mountain, when, lost and dehydrated, he stumbled across the small village of Korphe in northeast Pakistan. After the villagers there nursed him back to health, he vowed to return and build a school.
The CBS report, broadcast on “60 Minutes” Sunday night and citing sources, said that Mr. Mortenson had actually visited Korphe nearly one year after his K2 attempt. Mr. Mortenson said on Sunday that he did reach Korphe after his climb in 1993, and that he visited again in 1994. [BUT WHAT ABOUT THE MISUSE OF MIILLIONS OF DOLLARS OF CENTRAL ASIA INSTITUTE MONEY TO FURTHER HIS OWN BOOK AND THE ROYALTIES HE GETS?}
But he added a disclaimer in an interview with The Bozeman Daily Chronicle, saying that while he stood by the information in the book, “the time about our final days on K2 and ongoing journey to Korphe village and Skardu is a compressed version of events that took place in the fall of 1993.”
Viking has maintained near silence since the report trickled out on Friday, saying on Saturday that it relied on its authors “to tell the truth, and they are contractually obligated to do so.”
For the publisher, the situation with Mr. Mortenson was not as clear cut as it was with another of its authors, Margaret Seltzer, who wrote “Love and Consequences,” a memoir discovered to be fraudulent only days after it was published in 2008. Riverhead Books, the unit of Penguin that published “Love and Consequences,” immediately recalled all 19,000 copies, offered refunds to readers who had bought it and canceled Ms. Seltzer’s book tour.
“Three Cups of Tea” had a modest start when it was released in hardcover in 2006 but took off after it was published in paperback.
Set in the remote mountains of Afghanistan and Pakistan, it would be a difficult exercise in fact-checking for any publisher.
“It really is the responsibility of the author to write the truth,” said David Black, a literary agent. “If a publisher were to establish a fact-checking department the way a magazine fact checks, given the length of the works and the number of books they are dealing with, it would become very difficult to publish a lot of nonfiction.”
William Zinsser, who is the author of “Writing About Your Life: A Journey Into the Past,” said on Sunday that publishers have had a “slippery” standard for accuracy in memoirs.
“I don’t think they much care whether it’s true or not,” Mr. Zinsser said. “To me, the essence of memoir writing is absolute truth because I think everybody gains that way.”
Mr. Mortenson declined requests for an interview on Sunday, but he released a memo to several news outlets detailing responses to the “60 Minutes” report. He also forwarded a cheerful e-mail to his staff, sent early Sunday morning, telling them that after suffering from “low oxygen” for 18 months, he had recently been found to have a heart ailment and would be undergoing a surgical procedure on Thursday to correct it.
“Don’t let NYC sensational TV mess with Montana, or the tens of thousands of girls and boys we empower through education, our supporters will rally!” he wrote.
Mr. Mortenson founded the Central Asia Institute in 1996. It was initially financed by Dr. Jean Hoerni, a Swiss physicist who was a veteran of Silicon Valley. Based in Bozeman, Mont., where Mr. Mortenson lives, it was a tiny organization that raised just $1.7 million the year “Three Cups of Tea” was published.
The charity’s tax forms list the locations of its schools and how many students it serves. In the 2009 fiscal year, it reported 54 schools in Afghanistan serving 28,475 students, of which 21,165 were girls.
“60 Minutes” said it went to almost 30 of the schools and that roughly half were empty, built by someone else or not receiving any support.
Jeff McMillan, Mr. Mortenson’s personal assistant, said that in some cases, the charity had paid for the building of the schools, while in others, it underwrites things like teachers’ salaries and supplies.
He also said that the Afghan school year began on March 23. “I don’t know when CBS was there, but if it was when school was out, the schools would appear to be empty,” he said.
Thanks to his books and charity, Mr. Mortenson found a welcome place on the international lecture circuit and forged relationships with military officials in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Top Pentagon officials, who have had a broad and deepening relationship with Mr. Mortenson, reacted cautiously on Sunday. They declined to comment on the accusations against Mr. Mortenson or his charity but said they continued to support his work.
“We continue to believe in the logic of what Greg is trying to accomplish in Afghanistan and Pakistan because we know the powerful effects that education can have on eroding the root causes of extremism,” said a military official, who asked not to be named under ground rules imposed by the Pentagon.[ahd what are the "root causes of extremism"? Lack of schools for girls? Lack of money for guns? What?]
In person Mr. Mortenson has a guileless, open and at times awkward demeanor ["guileless demeanor" he may have, but he's clearly full of guile] that has endeared him to the thousands of schoolchildren and church groups he speaks to across the country. He has long said that he has little ability to handle finances, large organizations or his increasingly public life.
“I am awkward, soft-spoken, ineloquent and intensely shy,” he wrote in “Stones Into Schools,” the 2009 sequel to “Three Cups of Tea.” For that reason, he added, “the duties of speaking, promoting and fund-raising into which I have been thrust during the last several years have often made me feel like a man caught in the act of conducting an illicit affair with the dark side of his own personality.”
Bestselling author Greg Mortenson has issued a written response to a "60 Minutes" report calling into question his philanthropic practices and his experiences in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Mortenson chronicled those experiences in the books "Three Cups of Tea" and "Stones Into Schools" and leads the Central Asia Institute, an international charity that supports schools in remote regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan. Steve Kroft's "60 Minutes" report cited accounts that contradicted essential parts of Mortenson's story, and calls into question the way funds are allocated by the charity. The report, which aired Sunday night, is embedded above; "60 Minutes" posted Mortenson's response on its website. The following is from that statement.
60 Minutes' question: Did you really stumble into Korphe after failing to summit K2? The two porters who accompanied you on your journey down from K2 have told us you did not. We have three other sources that support the porters' accounts. The evidence suggests that you did not step foot in Korphe until a year later.
Greg Mortenson: Yes, I first visited Korphe village, Braldu valley, Baltistan, Pakistan, after failing to summit K2 in 1993, and met Haji Ali, a long time dear mentor and friend. My second visit to Korphe was in 1994. I made two visits to Korphe in 1995, the year we built the bridge over the Braldu River. And I again made two visits to Korphe in 1996, the year we built the Korphe School.
Mortenson further told the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, "The time about our final days on K2 and ongoing journey to Korphe village and Skardu is a compressed version of events that took place in the fall of 1993." He also told the paper, "As the co-author of the book, along with David Oliver Relin, I am responsible for the content in the book. There were many people involved in the story and also those who produced the manuscript. What was done was to simplify the sequence of events for the purposes of telling what was, at times, a complicated story."
Mortenson's written response continued:
It is important to know that Balti people have a completely different notion about time. Even the Balti language -- an archaic dialect of Tibetan -- has only a vague concept of tenses and time. For example, "now" can mean immediately or sometime over the course of a whole long season. The concept of past and future is rarely of concern. Often tenses are left out of discussion, although everyone knows what is implied. And if a person is a day or a week late or early it doesn't matter. The Balti consider the western notion of time quite amusing.
Language and perceptions of time seem to be coming into some kind of conflict. In his written statement, Mortenson looks to language, and an underlying difference in worldview, to blame for accounts that contradict his own. That's the same position he takes when responding to the television show's next question.
Question: Were you kidnapped for eight days by the Taliban in Waziristan in 1996? Three of the men in the photo you published in "Stones Into Schools" deny that they kidnapped you and say they are not Taliban. We have two other sources of information that support their account.
Mortenson: Yes, I was detained for eight days in Waziristan in 1996. It was against my will, and my passport and money were taken from me. I was not mistreated or harmed, but I was also not allowed to leave. A blanket was put over my head any time I was moved by vehicle. A "Talib" means student in Arabic, and, yes, there were Taliban in the region. Waziristan is an area where tribal factions and clan ties run deep. Some people are Taliban, some are not, and affiliations change overnight often on a whim. The Pathan people of Waziristan are proud people who I greatly admire. In speaking to American audiences, I often talk about my admiration for their concepts of Pashtunwali, their unwritten code of honor and conduct, and Nenawastay, hospitality.
Those NYU Empire-Builders Just Want To Take The Arab Money And Run
From The Chronicle of Higher Education:
April 17, 2011
Lecturer's Arrest in the Emirates Stirs Debate Over Academic Freedom in the Middle East
By David L. Wheeler
The recent detention of a Sorbonne lecturer in the United Arab Emirates has rekindled the debate over the nature of academic freedom at Western institutions in the Persian Gulf region and the political impact those institutions, especially the high-profile new campus of New York University in Abu Dhabi, will have.
The arrest of Nasser bin Ghaith, a lecturer at the Abu Dhabi branch of the University of Paris IV (Paris-Sorbonne) who has participated in the Doha Debates, a respected regional political forum, leaves observers asking what freedoms the academics working at new Western branch campuses in the emirates will enjoy. "Are professors only protected in the 90 minutes when they are giving seminars, and after that they are fair game?" asks Samer Muscati, a researcher on the United Arab Emirates for Human Rights Watch.
Human Rights Watch and the New York chapter of the American Association of University Professors have called on the New York University administration to publicly ask for the release of Mr. bin Ghaith and three other political activists who have been detained. The latest arrest occurred on Friday, according to a group known as the Gulf Discussion Forum.
"As the foreign university with the largest and most visible presence in the U.A.E., the NYU administration should speak out firmly against these violations of basic rights," said a letter signed by the leaders of the New York chapter of the American Association of University Professors, including Andrew Ross, a professor of social and cultural analysis at New York University.
Josh Taylor, a spokesman for NYU Abu Dhabi, said in an e-mail message that the administration will stay silent on the arrests. "We believe that we can have a far greater impact on creating a more informed, responsible, and just world, by creating powerful centers of ideas, discourse, and critical thinking, than by simply firing off a press release," Mr. Taylor wrote.
In the emirates, Human Rights Watch has focused on the rights of migrant laborers and freedom of expression on Saadiyat Island, the site where Abu Dhabi hopes to create a regional cultural center with branches of the Guggenheim Museum, the Louvre, and New York University "We're hoping it will be a human-rights benchmark for institutions not just in the emirates but in the gulf," said Mr. Muscati.
But Mr. Taylor says that the human-rights campaign has its sights set on an inappropriate target: "We're not sure what to make of it when an outside group tries to insist on setting a particular political agenda for an independent institution of higher learning."
Protesters have not been appearing in front of television cameras in the United Arab Emirates as they have been in many other Middle Eastern countries. But online discussion of increased political openness, wider participation in the government, and the need for economic and judiciary reforms has increased. (Political parties do not exist in the emirates, and there are no elections.) Two petitions calling for free elections and parliamentary democracy have circulated online, one in March and another one in early April, with the first one signed by 133 local academics, lawyers, and activists.
"Even though there are no protests in the streets," Mr. Muscati said, "We are seeing an unprecedented movement for reform."
The online activity is being met with crackdowns: In past months Human Rights Watch says authorities have blocked access to localnewsuae.com, a portal with articles and blog posts, and blocked access to the Facebook and Twitter pages of an emirates-focused online discussion forum, uaehewar.net.
As is often the case in the United Arab Emirates, who is doing what, and why, can be difficult to discern. Little can be found out about the detention of Mr. bin Ghaith, including whether the government has filed specific charges, what kind of due process will be followed, and if he will be allowed legal representation.
"It's very difficult to get information on this," says Mr. Muscati. "From what we understand, he is being held in Abu Dhabi and being interrogated there without a lawyer."
The 2010 human-rights report on the United Arab Emirates by the U.S. State Department, filed with Congress this month, states that "arbitrary and incommunicado detention remained a problem."
The Sorbonne's Web sites are silent about the arrest, and e-mail messages from The Chronicle to communication offices at the Paris and the Abu Dhabi campuses of the Sorbonne were not answered.
Mr. bin Ghaith has argued for a more-effective judiciary system in the emirates that could cope with corporate malpractice, with some of his criticism clearly directed toward those investors and corporations behind the financial crisis in Dubai, one of the emirates. In the Doha Debates in 2009, however, he spoke against the motion that "Dubai is a bad idea," saying that although mistakes had been made during Dubai's construction boom, a "self-correcting mechanism" was in place.
Gains vs. Losses
At New York University's home campus around Washington Square, critics of the Abu Dhabi campus said the arrests showed that the project was a mistake to begin with. "Who thought up the idea of putting a college campus full of young liberals in one of the most unstable regions of the world?" said one student commenting on an article on NYU Local, a student-run blog.
A student at the Abu Dhabi campus commenting on the same article, identified as Nicole, wrote, "The student body doesn't feel that our academic freedom is in jeopardy; however, it has made everyone more aware of the boundaries between the academic community of Abu Dhabi and the public at large."
Paulo Lemos Horta, an assistant professor of literature at the Abu Dhabi campus, said in an interview that he thought his efforts at the new campus were worthwhile and that he had not felt any difference between the freedoms he had as a professor in Abu Dhabi and those he had in his last job at Simon Fraser University, in Vancouver. "I feel like the most important thing is the work we can do within the institution," he said. "It is unclear how it would be more helpful for us to not be here than to be here. We are training a generation of students around the world in the tradition of liberal arts and academic freedom. Here they are at a coed institution, and there is no limit on what they can say." [can they, for example, subject Islam to critical analysis?]
Speaking from the Madrid airport, Mr. Horta said, "Here, people enjoy rights that they don't have in the U.S. such as gay marriage. Does that mean you don't move to the U.S. or engage in the U.S.?"
Islands of academic freedom like NYU Abu Dhabi are certainly not new in the Middle East. The American University in Cairo, established in 1919, is probably the oldest example, with its on-campus events providing a forum for political discussion that did not exist elsewhere in Egypt for many years. At the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, in Saudi Arabia, women are not required to cover themselves up and are allowed to drive, two freedoms they do not have elsewhere in the country.
In the emirates, Mr. Ross of NYU notes that "faculty and students at NYU Abu Dhabi have immeasurably more rights than longtime citizens of Abu Dhabi." Even arguments for academic freedom, he said, risk straying into illogical territory. The idea, for instance, that only academics should be protected, he says, is "not a very desirable argument for universities to be making."
He and others wonder if the free-speech rights experienced by expatriate artists and academics in Abu Dhabi will someday be enjoyed by others there. "It's good if some parts of the country have this freedom," says Mr. Muscati. "The hope is it will spread. It's not clear how."
The New York Times Whitewashes By Ignoring The Most Important Charge --"Greg Uses Central Asia Institute As His Private ATM Machine"
Anyone who saw the 60 Minutes segment on Greg Mortenson would have come away agreeing with the description offered by one person familiar with Mortenson's operation, "that Greg uses Central Asia Institute as his private ATM machine."
But Mortenson's use of millions of dollars from his tax-exempt foundation, the Central Asia Institute, in order to pay for his booik tours, further the adoption of his book by book clubs, and otherwise promote Greg Mortenson and Greg Mortenson's book that throws off royalties not for the Central Asia Institute, Greg Mortenson's 501(c)(3) foundation, but rather for the care and feeding of Greg Mortenson himself -- all this was ignored in today's story in the New York Times.
Here is that story:
(CBS News) We managed to track down the two porters who accompanied Mortenson, and spoke to them in Pakistan's remote Hushe Valley. They also told us that Mortenson did not stumble into Korphe lost and alone, and that he didn't go to Korphe at all until nearly a year later on another visit.
Kroft: He did build a school in Korphe.
Krakauer: He did. ...and it's a good thing. But if you go back and read the first few chapters of that book, you realize, "I'm being taken for a ride here."
It's not a solitary example. Upon close examination, some of the most touching and harrowing tales in Mortenson's books appear to have been either greatly exaggerated or made up out of whole cloth.
Mortenson (in an interview): One of the most compelling experiences I had was in July of '96...I went to the area to find a place to build a school. And what happened is, I got kidnapped by the Taliban for eight days.
The kidnapping story was featured in Three Cups of Tea, and referred to in his follow-up best seller, Stones Into Schools, with a 1996 photograph of his alleged captors.
We managed to locate four men who were there when the photo was taken - two of them actually appear in the picture. All of them insist they are not Taliban and that Greg Mortenson was not kidnapped. They also gave us another photo of the group with Mortenson holding the AK-47.
One of the men, Mansur Khan Mahsud, is the research director of a respected think tank in Islamabad and has produced scholarly articles published in the U.S.
Until recently, he had no idea that he had been shown as a kidnapper in a best-selling book.
We spoke with Mahsud via Skype. He told us he and the other people in the photograph were Mortenson's protectors in Waziristan - not his abductors.
Kroft: The story, as Mr. Mortenson tells it, is that he was held for eight days, and won you over by asking for a Koran and promising to build schools in the area. Is that true?
Mahsud: This is totally false, and he is lying. He was not kidnapped.
Kroft: Who are these people that are also in the picture?
Mahsud: Some are my cousin. Some are our friends from our village.
Kroft: Well, why do you think Mr. Mortenson would write this?
Mahsud: To sell his book.
Another place where no one has done much checking is into the financial records of Mortenson's non-profit organization, the Central Asia Institute, which builds and funds the schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and is located in Bozeman, Mont., where Mortenson lives.
Mortenson says the charity took in $23 million in contributions last year - some it from thousands of school children who emptied their piggy banks to help its "Pennies for Peace" program, and some of it from large fundraisers.
Kroft: This organization's been around for 14 years. How many audited financial statements has it issued?
Daniel Borochoff: One. (LAUGH)
Borochoff: It's amazing that they could get away with that.
Daniel Borochoff is president of the American Institute of Philanthropy, which has been examining and rating charitable organizations for the last two decades. He says the Central Asia Institute's financial statements show a lack of transparency, and a troublesome intermingling of Mortenson's personal business interests with the charity's public purpose.
According to the documents, the non-profit spends more money domestically, promoting the importance of building schools in Afghanistan and Pakistan than it does actually constructing and funding them overseas.
Borochoff: What's surprising is that most of the program spending is not to help kids in Pakistan and Afghanistan, it's actually... what they call domestic outreach where he goes around the country speaking and the cost incurred for that, things like travel is a major component of that. You know, just advertising.
Kroft: What does that mean?
Borochoff: Sounds like a book tour to me.
His point is that when Greg Mortenson travels all over the country at the charity's expense, he is promoting and selling his books and collecting speaking fees that the charity does not appear to be sharing in. According to the financial statement, the charity receives no income from the bestsellers, and little if any income from Mortenson's paid speaking engagements, while listing $1.7 million in "book-related expenses."
Kroft: The $1.7 million that they spent for book-related expenses is more than they spent on all of their schools in Pakistan last year.
Kroft: What do you say, I mean...
Borochoff: It's disappointing. You would hope that they would be spending a lot more on the schools in Pakistan than they would on book-related costs. Why doesn't Mr. Mortenson spend his own money (LAUGH) on the book-related costs? He's the one getting the revenues.
In fiscal year 2009, the charity spent $1.5 million on advertising to promote Mortenson's books in national publications, including a full page ad in "The New Yorker." And there are $1.3 million in domestic travel expenses, some for private jets.
Late last night (Saturday, April 16), we received a statement from the board of directors of the Central Asia Institute acknowledging that it receives no royalties or income from Greg Mortenson's book sales or speaking engagements. But the board says the books and the speeches are an integral part of its mission, by raising public awareness and generating contributions. And it claims that Mortenson has personally contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to the organization.
But the American Institute of Philanthropy is not persuaded.
Borochoff: I don't think the charity's getting a fair share here, based on the financial reports that I've reviewed.
Kroft: Do you think contributors are being misled?
General Petraeus Made "Three Cups Of Tea" Mandatory Reading For His Soldiers
One of thousands of laudatory stories about Greg Mortensen, all of them essentially the same gush:
April 01, 2009
Man and Book Change the World:
The (Continuing) Story of Greg Mortenson
When Three Cups of Tea author Greg Mortenson addressed the thousand people attending the 20th annual Love of Literacy Luncheon in West Palm Beach last Friday, he had some bad news, some good news and (to me at least) some surprising news about literacy in Afghanistan.
The bad news: The Taliban has bombed hundreds of schools, targeting especially those attended by girls.
The good news: In the year 2000, only about 800,000 children between the ages of 5 and 15 were in school in Afghanistan, and almost all of them were boys. Eight years later, in 2008, the figure was 7.2 million children in school, and 2 million of them were girls.
Why is the number of girls in school so important? Because, explained Mortenson, drawing on an African proverb, when you educate a boy, you educate an individual; when you educate a girl, you educate a community. The girls not only stay around to educate siblings and eventually their own children, but they often educate their mothers.
And it is a mother, says Mortenson, who must grant permission for a son to go on Jihad.
The surprising news: Mortenson said in the schools his organization has helped build, they have retained an Afghanistan tradition where elders do story time two or three times a week. Apparently 90% of Afghan children listen to their elders pass on the traditions of their culture. This compares with only 10% of American children who do so.
Are we missing something here?
It takes a family…
American parents know how important it is to read to their children, and they often do so up to the time their children begin to read for themselves. But educators here say parents often stop too soon. Further, one of the downsides of the very mobile American society is that grandparents are often far from their grandchildren. Both miss out on story time using books or just the elders’ memories.
When I reported on Mortenson before, I emphasized that his East Asia Institute ensures the community’s involvement in its school by insisting that the local communities provide free land, unskilled construction labor and ongoing support. This partnership model is similar to the successful Room-to-Read efforts and the model proven to work in this country by Andrew Carnegie a hundred years ago.
Mortenson takes heart in a recent survey that says 40% of American college students want to make a difference in the world—a figure higher now than in recent years. “The only way we can solve poverty is to touch, taste, smell and be with poverty ourselves,” he says. But there are so very many ways to make a difference—by being teachers, going into medicine, or working in many businesses.
A toast to the Tea
Mortenson had just come from a meeting at the Pentagon with General Petraeus. The general told him he had learned much from Three Cups of Tea and has made it mandatory reading for U.S. soldiers going to Afghanistan. This time it’s not only a military surge we’re engaging in, but a surge for education and infrastructure as well.
Three Cups of Tea has been on the New York Times bestseller list for 100 weeks or so. Read it and you’ll see why. In one stroke, it shows how a person, and a book, can change our world.
Muslims In Northern Nigeria Prove To Be Sore Losers
From the BBC:
18 April 2011
Nigeria election: Riots over Goodluck Jonathan win
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The BBC's Komla Dumor in Abuja said the election had not been totally incident free
Riots have broken out across northern Nigeria as presidential poll results show Goodluck Jonathan is set to win.
Homes of supporters of Mr Jonathan, the incumbent, were attacked in the cities of Kano and Kaduna.
Young supporters of Muhammadu Buhari, who is popular in the north, have been clashing with police and military.
They feel that the elections have been rigged in some areas of the south where there is a discrepancy between turnout and results.
With nearly all the votes counted, Mr Jonathan - a Christian from the oil-producing Niger Delta - has almost twice the number of his main rival.
The African Union observer team said it was Nigeria's best poll for decades.
Komla DumorBBC News, Abuja
Everyone's going to focus on the outcome, but in many regards, the real story from this election is the manner in which it has been conducted. In 2007 the level of electoral fraud was one of the worst, not just in Nigeria, but in Africa.
This time, Nigeria seems to have turned the corner. There has been a large turnout, with people queuing in the sun for several hours waiting patiently to vote. That picture was replicated at polling stations around the country, of which there are 120,000.
It hasn't been entirely incident-free - there have been reports of violence and some deaths. But on the whole,it seems as though Nigerians have handled the democratic process without too many difficulties.
Mr Jonathan was appointed to the presidency last year upon the death of incumbent Umaru Yar'Adua, whom he had served as vice-president. He staked his reputation on the election, repeatedly promising it would be free and fair.
In Kano, the largest city in in the north, homes displaying posters of Mr Jonathan were set on fire, and gangs of young men roamed the streets shouting "Only Buhari!"
In Kaduna, where a 24-hour curfew has been declared, election monitors say that shops are closing and people are fleeing to their homes through streets barricaded with burning tyres. Youths are clashing with the police and military in areas to the north and south of the city, with the security forces firing tear gas and live ammunition.
Local TV stations are reporting that the Kaduna home of Mr Jonathan's running mate, Vice-President Namadi Sambo, has been set on fire. They say the city's central prison has been attacked and inmates released.
In the central city of Jos, there is rioting in the Gangare area to the north of the city.
There are also reports of violent protests in the states of Gombe, Adamawa, Katsina and Sokoto.
And there are fears for the safety of the revered religious leader, the Sultan of Sokoto, who is now facing angry criticism over his support for President Jonathan.
To win in the first round, a candidate needs at least 25% of the vote in two-thirds of Nigeria's 36 states.
According to regional results, Mr Jonathan has passed that threshold in at least 24 states.
He has polled more than 22 million votes, compared with 12 million or so for former military leader General Buhari.
In Akwa Ibom state, Mr Jonathan was credited with winning 95% and in Anambra, it was 99%. In his home state, Bayelsa, he took 99.63%.
"Figures of 95% and above for one party suggest that these are fabricated figures and, personally, they worry me because they pose serious questions on the credibility of the election," Jibrin Ibrahim of the Centre for Democracy and Development told AFP news agency.
A spokesman for General Buhari, Yinka Odumakin, also said irregularities had taken place, but any challenge would come after the vote count.
Mr Jonathan's campaign team said they would not comment publicly until the election commission had formally declared all the results in the capital Abuja. That announcement is expected later on Monday.
While past polls have been marred by widespread violence and vote-fixing, Saturday's seemed to go generally smoothly.
Voters in many areas queued patiently for hours despite intense heat to cast their votes.
The head of the African Union observer team, former Ghanaian President John Kufuor, told the BBC he was satisfied.
"Nigeria hasn't been served too well for decades electorally, but to our pleasant surprise we found the people of Nigeria generally are the security against this," said Mr Kufuor.
"All of them co-operating to give the nation a befitting election."
He doesn't matter because he's a grasping crook and a liar. There are so many people who are that, they're all over the place. Like Tom Lehrer's Old Dope Peddler, they "do well by doing good." One of them, Bill Clinton, the well-known cheat and charmer, has made $100 million dollars since leaving office and even has something called the Clinton World initiative that gives him an excuse to pall around with Davos-worthy billionaires, all in order, he pretends, "to help his charity." .
Mortensen matters because he promotes, and encourages, and is used by those who promote and encourage, the squandering in Afghanistan which is called "winning hearts and minds," a policy that has wasted, and continues to waste, tens of billions of dollars in an effort that requires the American government, the American military, not to think about Islam and its effects on the minds of tens of millions of primitve, and self-primivitized because of Islam, Afghans.
So Mortensen matters more than just as one more dismal example.
Here's one article -- there will be many - on Mortensen, and the American military:
Does It Matter If The Military’s Fave Do-Gooder Sells Three Cups of Snake Oil?
Greg Mortenson might owe Capt. Cristian Balan an apology.
Balan teaches digital forensics at Vermont’s Champlain College when he’s not serving in Afghanistan with the Army National Guard. During a deployment last summer, he married his two vocations by acting as tech support in an Afghan computer lab a few miles from Bagram Air Field. His impulse was straight out of Mortenson’s Three Cups of Tea, an account of cross-cultural understanding in Central Asia that’s become faddish in counterinsurgency circles. The core lesson: treat the Afghans with respect; address their concerns; and they’ll scratch your back, too. If you don’t, don’t be surprised when you don’t get their cooperation against the Taliban.
After I accompanied the sunny Balan on his tech support mission, he asked if I’d read Mortenson’s book. When I told him I hadn’t, he fetched his dog-eared copy from his trailer and gave it to me to keep.
Balan is hardly the only military officer enamored of Mortenson. Gen. David Petraeus, the lord of all counterinsurgents, is a fan. So is Special Operations Command chief Adm. Eric Olson and Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Their esteem for Mortenson stems precisely from his basic message that War Is Not The Answer in Afghanistan and Pakistan: durable peace comes from education and respect. As Balan’s tale indicates, the military ironically seeks to make Three Cups of Tea an instrument for winning the war. Earlier this month, the Army War College even invited him to speak at its strategy conference.
So it’s embarrassing that 60 Minutes has turned up evidence of financial impropriety at Mortenson’s nonprofit foundation. The riveting tales of his books — residents of a Pakistani village called Kophe “nursed him back to health” after a disastrous mountain climbing expedition; he was abducted by the Taliban — may be exaggerated or false. But should that discredit the message that the military’s embraced?
60 Minutes‘ main allegations don’t suggest as much. They’re about Mortenson’s integrity, not his thesis. And he’s not backing down — though he allows that he “simplif[ied] the sequence of events” in Three Cups of Tea.
At the same time, the military’s love for Mortenson was a bit like COIN Gone Crazy, a caricature of counterinsurgency as an effort where the man who drinks the most tea with the most villagers will earn the most goodwill — when, in fact, it involves and requires a lot of death and destruction. Petraeus, Balan and others recognize that counterinsurgency can’t just be a violent endeavor, and they’ve sought to learn from Mortenson how to supplement their efforts with the necessary cultural respect that will give them a shot at success. Perhaps by showing Afghans basic respect and addressing their grievances, the theory goes, the military can secure Afghan tolerance or support for the bloody and unpleasant work of hunting the Taliban. [and what will make Muslims ignore what Qur'an and Sunnah tell them to think about Infidels?]
But to others in the military, Mortenson’s work doesn’t look like a supplement to the war. It looks like an alternative to it. And for officers to cheer Mortenson while they’re trying to fight a war is an absurdity. For the best explication of this perspective, read Carl Prine’s joyful evisceration of Mortenson’s supporters. (“No one can take money from a mark unless he thinks he’s getting something for nothing. That’s what turns ‘Three Cups of Tea’ into Three-card Monte for the Three Stars.”)
And evidence of a will to believe in counterinsurgency circles is palpable, as evidenced by, among other things, the Army’s seriously flawed experiment in harnessing anthropology for war, the Human Terrain System. Units formerly used to hunt and kill insurgent bombmakers are now used in a less lethal way in the name of sophisticated counterinsurgency principles, even as the bombs proliferate. Afghanistan has a way of undoing the best laid plans of westerners, like when the Taliban leaders they want to negotiate peace with — and ply with cash — turn out to be imposters.
But the counterinsurgency debate is rife with oversimplification. COINdinistas can carry an air of arrogance through their adherence to the “graduate school of warfare.” Their critics often pretend that counterinsurgency advocates want to take the war out of war. Too often, the debate looks like an Army of Pansies versus an Army of Brutes, depending on where your sympathies lie. (I’ll admit I’ve been too simplistic at times, myself.)
It’s true that many of Mortenson’s points are fatuous. Terrorism doesn’t result from a lack of education, as Doctor Ayman Zawahiri proves. It shouldn’t take a 60 Minutes expose to point out the flaw there. But the military has had an unhappy experience in Afghanistan when it doesn’t show sufficient respect for Afghan prerogatives, as the outrage resulting from civilian casualties proves.
Of course, counterinsurgents can still accidentally kill civilians; COIN skeptics can stay on their bases and avoid any antagonizing interactions with Afghan villagers. The hardest problem to disaggregate in Afghanistan right now is whether the war’s woes are due to counterinsurgency or the war itself. Respecting Afghans alone can’t win the war. But not respecting them can lose it.
That’s what the military is trying to teach itself by promoting Mortenson. You might call it self-criticism, an attempt to counterbalance its natural faith in the force of arms. But Danger Room pal Niel Smith argues that the Army has institutionalized counterinsurgency so poorly that officers can fool themselves into embracing caricatures of it. And that’s how Mortenson’s tea can taste a lot like snake oil.
SYRIA is standing at a crossroad in history not only due its dire need for reforms and its internal conditions, but also in terms of its relationship with the Arab and international communities. How will Syria liberate itself from being used as a tool for the implementation of the Iranian expansionist agenda? This has become a pressing issue. It is now a burden on the Syrian neck because most observers consider the country an obstacle to any Arab alliance in thwarting attempts of some international bodies to impose their own standards on the whole world.
Ever since Damascus formed a strategic alliance with Tehran, it has ceased to be the pulsating heart of Arabism, as it was known in the mid-20th century. It has become a mere implementation tool for Iran. At every stage, it has always been with the other side. In Lebanon, it has been silent over the flagrant Iranian interference that thwarted efforts to build the nation for 20 years, allowing Hezbollah to kidnap all Lebanese and subject them to the Persian project.
In Yemen, Damascus has ignored the massacre committed by the Houthis. In Gaza, it has allowed the Mullah regime to tear apart the Palestinians, leading to an unprecedented bloodbath. There was no protest whatsoever from Syria when Iran committed atrocious acts in Saudi Arabia. The oldest Arab capital did not express support for Bahrain during the implementation of the inordinate plan of the enemy. In Kuwait, the Iranian spy network was uncovered, but Damascus did not utter a word of support.
Syria has transformed willfully into a front house garden for Iran in the region under the guise of resistance, confrontation and opposition to Israel. For 40 years, we have never heard a gun shot towards Golan and it has not been liberated by the Syria-Iran alliance. Syria has not allowed the Arab nations to solve the Palestinian crisis. It rather confronted the Palestinians to prevent the execution of peaceful resolutions. It has been calling for indirect talks with Israel not to liberate Golan, but to buy time for the Iranian nuclear project.
It is really unfortunate that the heart of Arabism has started to pulsate for Persia. It now wants to pump the Persian blood into the veins of Arabism, and anyone who dares confront this project is attacked fiercely. Despite all these, the Arab wisdom remains committed to reclaiming Syria to put it back to its natural place.
Syria has responded brutally. It has destroyed relationships up to the extent of disregarding norms. Damascus is facing a problem as its citizens continue to revolt against any supportive role in the Persian project. They have been trying to break the chain and remove the tapes placed on their mouths so they can shout out loud to demand for freedom.
The Syrians who have rejected the plans and slogans of resistance before it started and stood against the reinforcement of war efforts to confront Israel and liberate Golan, know very well that Golan will be freed only through the concerted efforts of the Arabs. Liberation efforts will succeed if Syria stops being the subordinate of Iran, returns to the Arab motherly fold and regains its natural place. Syria must allow its people to stand up and make a firm request before it is too late.
Syria can still accomplish internal reforms and dissociate itself from the Persian project. This is what the Syrians want and all Arabs as well. The people of Syria, who have been clamoring for freedom and an end to its subordination to Iran, know how to make future and historic decisions, far from the recommendations of a retarded ruffian regime whose only aim is to bring back the Persian Empire which has been forgotten for ages.
This is the truth, no matter how harsh it may seem. We hope it will find a listening ear, though we know beforehand that tens of trumpeters will accuse us of working for Israel after reading this piece. This is the least of accusations that are like recordings on damaged CDs due to the excessive repetition.
Fitzgerald: Arabia Petraea, Or General Petraeus' Middle East (Part I)
Ever since the "surge that worked," I've been wondering about General Petraeus, and even more about those Leavenworth colonels, the ones of whom so much was made as the army's intellectuals. These were the people who, during the "surge," discovered and used lessons offered by previously overlooked "experts" on insurgency - David Galula, in the French campaign in Algeria, comes immediately to mind. They asserted that one could find general principles or laws that could apply to all insurgencies (which, they concluded, "on average last about ten years").
Yes, it was those colonels who were made so much of, because in Anbar, so the story goes, the American army after many false starts was at long last in Iraq "getting it right. " And what they were "getting right" was, above all, an understanding of the subtleties of Iraqi society, and particularly of its tribes. In so doing, they had hit, it was said, on the "key" to understanding Iraqis, and dealing with its many competing groups successfully.
Yes, for quite some time, you will remember, we were treated to stories about the brilliant and "unorthodox" colonels who were thinking outside the box, that sort of thing. They included mediagenic personalities, such as Colonel Kilcullen, seconded from the Australian army, who impressed for a number of reasons - his language, clearly strine, his expertise (he was said to have studied the sociology of Indonesia and helped thereby to put down rebellions there), and - who knows? - possibly even his rakish Australian hat, if he was allowed to wear it, brim up on one side, all Breaker-Morant and Crocodile-Dundee. What, however, his training in sociology in Indonesia could contribute to the situation in Iraq is unclear. That training was a far cry, I suspect, from what C. Snouck Hurgronje studied, and felt was important, as an advisor to the government of the Dutch East Indies, to bring to the attention of those trying to keep local Muslims under control. Nonetheless, read the recent crop of books on Iraq - such as those by Thomas Ricks - and see what a prominent role is given to these people, the advisers who plucked victory from what looked like certain defeat.
Now let's get back to David Galula. Certainly Galula, who was a Jew born in Tunisia, and who later joined the French army, knew Arabic and knew the psychology of those with whom the French Army had to deal. But the French Army in Algeria was also dealing with a situation in which there were more than a million non-Muslims (French, along with Spanish, Italians, even Maltese) in Algeria, whose support could be called on. In Iraq, there was no such non-Muslim local presence (the terrified Assyrians and Chaldeans hardly count), and the "insurgency" was not easily identified (as in Algeria), because there were many different groups in Iraq -- Sunni Arabs, Shi'a Arabs, Kurds -- all of whom had their own interests. And all of these groups, at various times, could find it advantageous to make temporary common cause with the Infidel Americans - not in order to promote American or Infidel interests, but to promote their own sectarian or ethnic interests inside Iraq.
I wrote about those I dubbed the "Galula-ites" several times. Here's one of those times, in a fleeting comment on a thread in May 2007 (here edited a bit for clarity):
The Galula-ites will make much of this [the killing of an Al-Qaeda-in-Iraq leader by other Jihadists]. They think that the fact that Sunni tribes, or some of them, have turned against, and are prepared to act against, Al-Qaeda, is a sign of some great change. It isn't. There was always a division between the local Sunnis and the outsiders who came to join Al-Qaeda in Iraq. And if there is now a clash between them, that clash is to be welcomed but not given exaggerated importance (as one intelligent Iraqi blogger -- possibly one of the Fadhil brothers at Iraq the Model -- noted a month or two ago).
The American "counter-insurgency" experts around Petraeus, and Petraeus himself, need to focus on Islam. They need to see the worldwide problem and ask themselves how the outcome in Iraq can or can not contribute to weakening the Camp of Islam internally, through the sectarian and ethnic fissures that it offers. They need to see how that outcome would help to encourage, elsewhere in Dar al-Islam, the spectacle of intra-Muslim aggression that would offer Infidels a Demonstration Project (akin to that going on in Gaza) of the behaviors of Muslims, in societies thoroughly suffused with Islam, and not held in check by a despot or a collection of despots (as the Al-Saud in Saudi Arabia).
If they do so, they will stop making jejune pronouncements about the "laws of counter-insurgency" of the "on average, insurgencies last ten years" variety, and come to comprehend that Islam here is the key, Islam that explains why there is not one but many insurgencies. Islam is the only thing that is held in common by the various insurgents: Al-Qaeda, the much larger population of Sunnis (including the Sunni tribesmen now being killed, and killing, Al Qaeda members), the Shi'a groups from those of Dawa and SCIRI to the lower-depths troglodyte Moqtada al-Sadr and his Jaish al-Mahdi, and the Kurds, with their own quite distinct interests. All of the Arabs (not the Kurds) share a common hostility, a permanent hostility, to the Americans -- a hostility that is rooted in Islam. At the moment, 98% of the Sunnis polled support attacks on Americans, whereas "only" 70-95% of the Shi'a do so. Great.
When will Petraeus and those who apparently think the "strategy" of David Galula in Algeria would have worked, "if only" the French government and people had allowed it to do so, see this? (And that too must be factored in, must be understood -- the American people, though not its semi-demented government, do not wish to pour another few hundred billion dollars into Iraq. They do not wish to see first the civilian army, and then the regular army, become ever more shredded and demoralized and relieved of its best potential recruits and its younger officers, who are now leaving in noticeable and disturbing, but quite understandable, numbers.)
Petraeus and those experts need to ask themselves some hard questions when they read something as shallow as Arthur Herman's attempt to liken the insurgency situation in Algeria faced by the French with that faced by the Americans in Iraq. They should not be delighted with such a piece, but should ask themselves how an intelligent man could write something so oblivious to the very deep differences between the two cases, beginning with the fact that France had a million civilian French in Algeria and had ruled the country for 132 years, and its aim was to stay, and there was no larger context for it to consider, whereas in Iraq, the context is a worldwide Jihad, whose instruments are not, pace Bush, only terror, but rather the money weapon (the ten trillion dollars received by Muslim nations from oil and gas sales since 1973), campaigns of Da'wa (carefully-targeted and well-financed, all over the Western world), and demographic conquest (which is finally being noticed, but with shrugs of despair, or pollyannish determination to ignore grim Islam-based realities).
Those who blithely assign, and blithely invoke, Galula or any other supposed magical guide or solution are jejune in their understanding of Islam, of Iraq, of what in Iraq can be turned to our advantage, and what goals are attainable and make sense, and what goals are unattainable, and were they to be attained, would make no sense.
We need such people as these to be in charge in Iraq, and to start telling the truth to what appears to be a hallucinating, obstinate, semi-demented leadership: Bush, Cheney, and those who insist upon doing their bidding, and repeating their every word of miscomprehension and terminal confusion.
But until a few days ago, I was unaware that those colonels working under or for General Petraeus had also consulted not only an unknown officer in the French army - David Galula - but also someone else. And that someone turned out to be quite well known. He is someone whose baleful influence, whose mythomanic and pseudo-poetic memoirs, have done such damage to British (and Western) policy toward the Arabs (and, by extension, toward other Muslims). That guide to dealing with the Arabs, apparently much consulted by those Leavenworth colonels, turns out to be T. E. Lawrence, known to many - and especially to young Americans who first encounter him on the silver screen, in David Lean's entertaining fantasy, and then grow up to be officers in the American military - as "Lawrence of Arabia."
A new article, by Bertram Wyatt-Brown, recently published in The Journal of the Historical Society, titled "Lawrence of Arabia: Image and Reality" and brought to my attention in a piece by Daniel Pipes, maintains - according to Pipes' synopsis -- that T. E. Lawrence was the figure most consulted by some of the colonels who formed General Petraeus' celebrated brain trust. Wyatt-Brown maintains that Lawrence has served as a talismanic guide for these American strategists. In particular, they saw him as an expert who could provide them with the knowledge they would need, based on the vast wisdom he had presumably accumulated in organizing Arab (Bedouin) tribesman for that famous "Arab Revolt" we have all heard so much about, the one that some think really inflicted great damage on the Turks, and was - they think -- of such importance in the Allied war effort in the Middle East. They have been particularly impressed, Wyatt-Brown maintains, with a piece he wrote based on his dealings with the Arab sheikhs and tribesmen, called "Twenty-Seven Articles."
But before we get to those "Twenty-Seven Articles," let's remember Lawrence, the myth, and the man. T. E. Lawrence was an indifferent junior archaeologist at the Ashmolean, who arrived in the Middle East. There he managed to engage in activities whose military importance we shall discuss below, but who in the main spent his time creating a myth about himself, and his significance. That myth, tiny at first, grew and grew, when back in England, in a country hungry for heroes, and the more exotic their locale, the further away from the stench of the bloodsoaked trenches of World War I, the better. And here was T. E. Lawrence, with his stirring tales of Arabs riding their camels and fighting the Turks in the cause of their own liberation. And who organized them, who made them a fighting force of such importance? A slight Englishman, an intellectual, a writer, with a pseudo-poetic style that some found so winning - T. E. Lawrence, himself seemingly a learned man (he was to translate Homer), who "understood" the essence of that admirable thing, "The Arab," or rather, "The Bedu," the noble version of the Arab, the desert warrior, leather faced, hawk on hand, able to ride for days without stop or sustenance, and so on.
In England some well-known people welcomed the myth of Lawrence. George Bernard Shaw and Robert Graves were among them; Churchill was for a while taken in. But the "cool and skeptical" men who knew the Middle East, and knew Lawrence personally, never fell for this stuff.
Here, from a review of "The Selected Letters of T. E. Lawrence" by the celebrated scholar of modern Arabia (particularly in relation to Great Britain), J. B. Kelly, are some telling observations:
...when I was taking my own first unsteady steps in the study of Arabian history and politics, the head of my institute at Oxford, who had a had a lengthy career as a diplomat in the Middle East before he became an academic, happened one day to mention that he had worked with Lawrence for a time in the early 1920s in the Middle East Department of the old Colonial Office in London. When I asked him what kind of impression he had formed of the man, he replied tersely, "A butterfly, Ornamental but useless."
The intervening years have only confirmed to me the accuracy of that judgment, which is why I have watched with wonder the growth and continuing fertility of the sprawling Lawrence industry...The vast edifice of Lawrenciana has been erected upon his adventures during World War I, more specifically upon the part he played in the Arab Revolt of 1916-18. Without those exploits he would have acquired no public reputation, there would have been nothing from which to create the Lawrence myth; for his achievements after the war were not of an order to earn him even the slightest measure of repute or fame.
The war, then, the Arab Revolt, and his role in it, are crucial to the Lawrentian production line; and yet - and this is perhaps the most curious aspect of the whole enterprise - not one of his biographers, editors or publicists has possessed the requisite degree of knowledge of the political and military events of the war in the Middle East to evaluate properly the importance of Lawrence's exploits or the worth of the Arab Revolt itself.
Kelly then goes on to quote the editor of The Letters, Malcolm Brown, as describing the sharif of Mecca's four sons as "his [Lawrence's] field commanders in the Arabs' armed struggle against Turkey, which was now being conducted with the support of Britain and France." Brown then claims that the capture of the port of Aqaba from the Turks "brought about a major shift in the Arab war and in Lawrence's career. The Arabs would thenceforth conduct their campaign in close alliance with the British...as the right wing of an advancing army."
Now Kelly comments on what Brown has written:
To say the least, this is a most peculiar interpretation of the relative importance of the British Expeditionary Force in Egypt and Palestine, and the forces of Sharif Husain. It also gives a misleading impression of the origins of the Arab Revolt. The truth is that for nearly two years after the outbreak of war with Turkey, Sharif Husain sat on the fence, craftily assessing which way the war was going. He was only lured down from it onto the British side by means of large political gains and even larger bags of gold.
His subsequent revolt was never more than a sideshow, and of debatable military significance. He was unable, for example, to take Medina, the southern terminus of the Hijaz railway, where the Turkish garrison held on until the war was well and truly over.
In his assessment of Lawrence's importance to the Arab Revolt, Mr. Brown [Malcolm Brown, editor of "The Letters of T. E. Lawrence" under review] takes his hero at his own valuation, averring that official documents in the British archives (of which he quotes a bare score) support his submissions about 'the central importance' of Lawrence's role. A more thorough examination of the official records, I believe, would lead to a contrary conclusion.
Mr. Brown also accepts at face value Lawrence's occasional description of himself ("in a throwaway line," Mr. Brown notes admiringly) as being accepted by the Arabs as "an Emir of sorts." Is this really credible? Why should the Emir Faisal and his brothers, Sharifian nobles and descendants of the Prophet, consider an infidel of junior military rank worthy to be accorded the dignity of the title which they themselves held? Is it not more likely that they looked upon Lawrence as a somewhat gullible paymaster, the provider of lavish supplies of arms, ammunition, high explosives and, best of all, gold sovereigns - "the light cavalry of St. George"? As time went by, Lawrence gradually came to realize the awful truth of his situation; he then started to go to pieces.
It is impossible in so limited a space as this to examine the many claims that Lawrence made about his exploits between 1916 and 1918 and which Mr. Brown, as editor of his letters [Malcolm Brown also wrote a biography of Lawrence tellingly titled "A Touch of Genius"], seems to accept unquestioningly. One instance will have to suffice to test Lawrence's veracity, but a highly important one - the capture of Damascus in October, 1918.
Although the fall of the city represented the high point of the Arab Revolt, and of Lawrence's career, Mr. Brown gives only a meager account of the event. He prints only one document, a report by Lawrence dated October 1, 1918, the import of which is that Damascus had fallen earlier that day to the Sharifian forces. Mr. Brown does nothing to correct this impression. The truth of the matter, however, is that Damascus was taken, not by the Sharifian army but, almost inadvertently, by the 3rd Australian Light Horse Brigade of the Desert Mounted Corps.
The final battle of the Palestine campaign, which broke the back of the Turkish army's resistance, was fought at Megiddo in the third week of September. The 3rd Australian Light Horse Brigade was subsequently ordered to cut the Turkish retreat northwards to Hama but without entering Damascus, the honor of whose capture had, for political reasons and by order of Sir Edmund Allenby, the general officer commander of Palestine, been reserved for the Sharifian army under Emir Faisal.
The Turks evacuated Damascus on the night of Sept. 30. The next morning the commander of the 3rd Australian Light Horse, finding that the quickest way to reach the Hama road was through the northern quarter of Damascus, entered the city at first light, to be met by a delegation of Damascene notables who formally surrendered the city to him. The Australian commander did not tarry long over the formalities (report has it that he did not even dismount), but within a short time had ridden out with his brigade through the Hama gate in pursuit of the retreating Turks.
Later that morning the Sharifian army, Lawrence prominent in the forefront of the cavalcade, rode into Damascus from the east.
Almost immediately the Bedouin ran wild, looting, killing, destroying. Alec Kirkbride [who later worked with Glubb Pasha in the Arab Legion in Jordan, and wrote a memoir, "A Crackling of Thorns"], another British officer with the Sharifian forces, later recounted how he had come across Lawrence leaning against a wall outside the Turkish military hospital, vacantly giggling, while inside the hospital the Bedouin were ripping the bandages from the Turkish wounded and putting them to the sword. Kirkbride drew his revolver on Lawrence and told him that if he didn't call off his jackals, he, Kirkbride, would attend to them himself.
A day later Allenby ordered the 4th Australian Light Horse Brigade into Damascus to restore order and protect the civilian population from the Bedouin. None of this is to be found in Lawrence's writings, or in Mr. Brown's editorial remarks. Instead, one finds in the "Seven Pillars" a disgraceful attempt by Lawrence, albeit couched in his usual ambiguous and evasive style, to smear the Australians by implying that it was they who had been killing and looting, and that it was his Bedouin who had to be called into impose order!
When Allenby arrived a couple of days later he told Lawrence to leave Damascus immediately, out of compassion, so Lawrence insinuates, for his broken state of heath. Mr. Brown evidently accepts this explanation, though one would have thought that here, surely, was ground worth exploring. Why, if Allenby thought so highly of Lawrence, as Mr. Brown claims elsewhere, did he have virtually nothing to do with him after 1918?
The answer, as it happens, may well lie in a letter Mr. Brown prints from Lawrence to Mrs. Shaw in March 1927. Despite the self-exculpatory gloss put upon it by Lawrence, it may be the most truthful thing he ever wrote about the war and his part in it.
"You see," he explained to Mrs. Shaw, "my campaign and fighting efforts were entirely negligible in [General Allenby's] eyes. All he required of us was a turnover of native opinion from the Turk to the British, and I took advantage of that need of his, to make him the stepfather of the Arab national movement: a movement which he did not understand, and for whose success his instinct had little sympathy. He is a very large, downright and splendid person, and being publicly yoked with a counter-jumping opportunist must often gall him deeply."
And Kelly ends with a one-word comment: "Exactly."
Now if I have quoted at such great length from J. B. Kelly, it is because he, and Elie Kedourie, are the two greatest experts on British diplomatic history having to do with the Arabs; Kelly's "Britain and the Persian Gulf, 1795-1880" is a historical masterpiece. Kelly spent nearly a half-century, intermittently, in the Arab states; he was the great expert on the "Frontier Question" in Eastern Arabia. And when Sheikh Zayed of Abu Dhabi needed to hire a foreign expert to help prepare the case against the territorial encroachments of Saudi Arabia, that expert was J. B. Kelly. No one was more familiar with the archives in the Records Office than J. B. Kelly. It was more important to quote him exactly, on the subject of Lawrence, than to attempt to paraphrase them.
What we learn from Kelly, and Kedourie, and from Richard Aldington, whose biography of Lawrence in 1956 blew up, one would have thought for all time, the myths created by, and around, T. E. Lawrence, is that Lawrence was a serial liar. What the few hundred troops that his Arab sheikhs commanded [the Arabs wildly claimed to have "tens of thousands" or even, at one point, a "hundred thousand" troops] accomplished was of little military value. They could not even remove the Turkish garrisons. Their famed "Revolt" consisted in the main of harrying the Hejaz Railway here and there. General Allenby himself understood exactly how minimal was the contribution of Lawrence and his Arabs - whose loyalty was bought-and-paid-for, mainly a matter of gold and military supplies furnished by the British - to the war effort.
Why does this matter? Why should we care? Well, if Colonel Nagl, and Colonel Kilcullen, and other unnamed colonels, if even General Petraeus himself, took - as Wyatt-Brown says they did -- the myth of Lawrence of Arabia seriously, if they did not know that that myth was exploded long ago, then they may have been deluded into thinking that Lawrence had something important to offer them, and that they, these modern day followers of Lawrence, could indeed do as he did, and "win over the Arab tribes" (he never did) and accomplish with them something of "great and lasting military significance" (he, and the Arabs whose loyalty and temporary cooperation he bought, never did). In their Anbar venture they might still think that they had somehow made a permanent difference, when all they did is rent, for a short time, the temporary loyalty of some Sunni tribes who had their own good and sufficient reasons for opposing Al Qaeda in Iraq. But that temporary overlapping of interests did not mean that the Sunnis, or any of the other Arab Muslims, could be, or should be thought of as being, true allies of the American Infidels.
And not for one second should those colonels, or General Petraeus, have believed that reading what turn out to be more-or-less obvious bromides - the "Twenty-Seven Articles" that Lawrence wrote - in dealing with Arab tribes, somehow offered an open-sesame into the permanently-sealed hearts of Arab Muslim tribesmen.
Like Lawrence, the Americans too supplied weapons and money, money, money, to the local Arabs. Those local Arabs, for their own reasons, took on Al Qaeda. But there was never any intention, by those Sunni Arabs, to acquiesce in the New Iraq, the Iraq where power had been transferred from Sunni Arabs to Shi'a Arabs. The money and weapons the Anbar tribesmen, and above all some of their remarkably corrupt leaders, obtained, were to be kept as useful in the future campaign, should a campaign prove necessary, against the Shi'a Arabs. Did General Petraeus, did Colonels Nagl and Kilcullen, not realize that the Anbar "surge" meant, in the greater scheme of things, very little? Do they know even now that what happens in Iraq, in the worldwide Jihad, means far less than, say, the response in Europe to the trial, beginning today, of Geert Wilders in The Netherlands? Do they realize, do they allow themselves to realize (how could they, really?), that the men, money, materiel spent in Iraq were largely squandered? Do they realize that the outcome in Iraq is almost certain to be a place of permanent unsettlement, for the Arabs and the Kurds will not make peace, and the Sunnis will never acquiesce in their loss of power, and the Shi'a Arabs have no intention of ever giving up the power they now possess? And could they further come to the conclusion that the very goals that they tried to achieve, of a stable and unified Iraq, are not only unattainable but, from the long-term perspective of Infidel and American interests, exactly the wrong goals?
That would require a kind of willingness to admit that one had misspent one's time, that one had not sufficiently grasped the nature of a conflict that, by and large, will remain unaffected by what happens in Iraq. It would have made better sense to get out far earlier, to forget about the "lessons" offered by David Galula, lessons not relevant to the American situation in Iraq because Galula was describing a single insurgence, the war in Algeria against the French. The goal of the French was not to get out, but to remain, while in Iraq the "insurgencies" are many, and are directed at other groups within Iraq as well as against the Infidel Americans for being Infidels. The Americans had no desire to stay. They wanted only to bring peace and tranquility and prosperity - crazily unattainable goals -- to Iraq.
But worse, by far, than the business with David Galula is the business, if Wyatt-Brown has it right, of American colonels and other officers taking seriously, as a guide to anything, the life and career of that self-promoting mythomane, whose military value was almost nil, T. E. Lawrence. It is a pity that those who took Lawrence seriously in the American army were unfamiliar with Richard Aldington's biography, or the meticulous work of J. B. Kelly and Elie Kedourie, and of many others. Apparently, young boys who then grew up to join the American military took David Lean's movie seriously, and they never checked to find out what the current reputation, among real scholars, of Lawrence is. General Allenby took the measure of Lawrence, and those who take a cool and skeptical view of things, not the naïve enthusiasts, should have prevailed.
One more time, from Lawrence's own summing-up in a letter:
You see, my campaign and fighting efforts were entirely negligible in [General Allenby's] eyes. All he required of us was a turnover of native opinion from the Turk to the British, and I took advantage of that need of his, to make him the stepfather of the Arab national movement: a movement which he did not understand, and for whose success his instinct had little sympathy. He [General Allenby] is a very large, downright and splendid person, and being publicly yoked with a counter-jumping opportunist must often gall him deeply.
That was Lawrence on Lawrence: " a counter-jumping opportunist." A pity that at West Point, where they surely now must say a word or two about Lawrence, they don't get him straight, not even as straight as he, in a rare moment of candor, once got himself.
As for the "Twenty-Seven Articles" - in the main, the most obvious bromides, worthy of Polonius - they will be examined in the second part of "Arabia Petraea, or General Petraeus' Middle East." Meanwhile, however, have a preliminary look yourself - you can find Lawrence's "wisdom" right here.
See what I mean, about "obvious bromides" and Polonius?
Fitzgerald: Arabia Petraea, Or General Petraeus' Middle East (Part 2)
T. E. Lawrence thought of himself as a great expert on the Arabs, and he managed to convince others to share in that belief. And he met a felt need, in Great Britain in the 1920s, after the Great War, for a hero, and a hero on a horse, whose heroism took place far from the trenches that one would wish to forget. That made him even more attractive. And his myth was also helped along, across the Atlantic, by the entrepreneurial Lowell Thomas, who proceeded to market books and short, traveloguish films, about "Lawrence of Arabia," flogging his wares everywhere.
Let's remember that Lawrence's achievement, such as it was, was merely one based on gold. The Arabs he dealt with did not flock to the Allied side. Almost all of the Arabs in the Ottoman Empire remained quiescent, to the very end of World War I, content to accept, or fearful of not accepting, their Turkish overlords. But there were some, a few, under the Sharifians (the family that controlled, or was the custodian of, the Two Noble Sanctuaries, Mecca and Medina), who came to the Allies after years of cajoling, and especially after they finally saw, by late in 1916, which way the war appeared to be going. They were further persuaded by what some cynical British called the "cavalry of St. George" - that is, the bags of gold that Lawrence distributed. (The "bags-of-gold" method was used by the British often, as the best way to rent temporary Arab support - even the famous crosser of the Empty Quarter, Mr. Shakespeare, found bags of gold sovereigns the best implementer of policy among the Al-Saud.)
It is in Lawrence's Seven Pillars of Wisdom, written at the end of his life, in 1935, that he records his exploits most fully. And it is Seven Pillars of Wisdom that, along with his "Twenty-Seven Articles" (written in 1918) turns out to have been, according to a new article by Bertram Wyatt-Brown, so influential among assorted colonels, headquartered in Leavenworth, for Lessons Applicable To Today's Iraq (Afghanistan, Pakistan, name your exotic Muslim poison). Before dealing, then, with the "Twenty-Seven Articles," it makes sense to take a look at Seven Pillars of Wisdom, which so many consider to have been Lawrence's final summing-up, and his masterpiece.
Now it's not hard to grasp the appeal of Lawrence for many today, especially if they do not know much about him. Imagine yourself an officer in the American military, having to endure repeated tours in Iraq, or possibly now in Afghanistan. The mysterious Muslim East, with its camels, and muezzins, and those cloths you wrap around your face to protect against sun and sand. East is there; the East is exotic. Many of the people you meet are well versed in pleasing foreigners who may bear gifts (military hardware, money). And besides, poverty itself (as exhibited by, for example, Afghan tribesmen) is itself enough to win you, for you are at heart a sentimentalist, uninclined to ask just what it is about the local population that makes for, even guarantees, such poverty. If you are, or like to think of yourself, as of a scholarly bent, you may start with Byron's "The Road To Oxiana" or Doughty's "Arabia Deserta," or Fitzroy Maclean's accounts of Central Asia. The verities of the desert, the endless dunes, the stars seen unhindered by man-made lights in the sky above, the camels, the sandstorms, the headdress.
And then there are all those points of Arab or Muslim etiquette to master: how to enter a tent, how to accept an invitation for a meal, even if the meal is sheeps' eyes, how to respond to a request, how to parry a question about religion, and so on. And if you are like the rest of us, you might well sink into this stuff, and as you master it - it's not very hard - think that you have acquired some important skill. And the more you learn about this kind of thing, the more you think the task you have been assigned - to win those hearts and minds for your cause - is important, cannot possibly be trivial or even a distraction. You forget, or never bother to think about, the larger question - of how, say, what you have been asked to do in Iraq, or in Afghanistan, will affect the worldwide threat that Muslims, that Islam, pose to all non-Muslims. You do not think about what is happening in the countries of Western Europe, or of how the temporary rental of cooperation from Sunni Arabs in Anbar Province could possibly make the Muslim threat in, say, Great Britain, less worrisome.
No, you are dedicated entirely to the immediate task that has been assigned you. And the more you study for that task, and the more you convince yourself that you have some special knowledge and that you will, as a consequence, "make a difference" in Anbar Province, or Iraq, or Afghanistan, the more likely it is that you will become an unwitting collaborator in a collective folly - the folly of how we now choose not to exploit the fissures that can be found within the Camp of Islam, the folly of trying to pour development money into these places on the theory that "poverty" and "lack of jobs" is the real explanation for the popularity of the Taliban, or Al Qaeda, or any of a hundred other groups (Lashker-e-Toiba, Lashkar Jihad, Jaish-e-Muhammad, Sunna al-Islam, Hizballah, Hamas, and so on). It's the line from the song about Officer Krupke in "West Side Story": "We're depraved on account of we're deprived." No one mentions the ideology of Islam, no one sees the elephant that is in the room, or rather, no one notices that the very air is suffused with the attitudes of Islam, the attitude of deep mistrust, and permanent hostility - not to be overcome by any acts of generosity or kindness, which in Islam are already seen as part of the sinister Infidel plot to woo good Muslims away from Islam.
And so the farce continues, the farce in which American and other Infidel aid is poured in to Muslim lands in order to make Muslim peoples less poor, to make their countries less wretched, to somehow - even in the presence of Islam - make them better so that they will be, we think, less of a threat. Was the threat that the Saudis posed to all Infidels greater when they did not have the fabulous riches they now have? Now that everyone in Saudi Arabia is "prosperous" thanks to oil, is the threat posed by the Saudis greater, or smaller, than it was, say, fifty years ago? What about Iran? What about the other Muslim oil-states - has "prosperity" made them better friends, or at least less hostile, or at least so distracted by their wealth that they have no time to pursue Jihad all over the world?
For some American policymakers, outside it is still 1948. America is the only country standing, and it is we who will send money to the countries of Western Europe, build and fund NATO, give aid whenever it is asked. In fact, for the past sixty years, the easiest thing in the world for foreign countries has been to inveigle the Americans into emptying their pockets. And the theory is always that "poverty" is always and everywhere the cause of hostility, and that if we can only end that "poverty" we shall end the hostility.
The logic of this is particularly bizarre when it comes to Islam. We all agree that there are many poor countries, in sub-Saharan Africa, in Latin America. But these countries are not Muslim, and for some reason their people are not full of murderous hostility toward us and toward others they call "Infidels." So we don't pay too much attention to them. Instead, we are now lavishing hundreds of billions in aid on Muslim lands. Eventually the non-Muslim poor will figure this out, and perhaps many of their peoples will start converting to Islam, so that the Americans will think they have to shell out money to keep these people from becoming "hostile." What is particularly absurd about the American effort is that when Muslims are poor, when they have to lead a hardscrabble existence and have no time, and no means, to conduct Jihad, they are relatively harmless. Afghan villagers without television and computers and radios to whip them up against the Infidels, who must farm or raid to keep alive, are not the threat to us that Saudi and other rich Arabs are, than the government of Libya is, than the Islamic Republic of Iran is. Think of Iran fifty years ago, or Libya. Were these countries "prosperous"? No. Did they constitute a danger to us anything like what they constitute today?
Furthermore, the attempt to pretend that "poverty" is the problem, and not the ideology of Islam, delays the day of recognition by Infidels of the true basis of Muslim hostility toward us (Islam itself), wastes a tremendous amount of resources (two trillion dollars have been spent, or committed to be spent, on the Iraq folly), and allows Muslims who could be made aware that the reason Muslim states that do not possess oil will remain poor (and even oil-rich states have failed to create economies not based completely on oil) is that Islam itself, with its inculcated hatred of bid'a, innovation, and its discouragement of hard work because of widespread inshallah-fatalism, is the reason for poverty in the Muslim lands. Why should we, the Infidels, keep transferring our own wealth, and allow Muslims not to recognize the source of their economic stasis?
Which brings us back to General Petraeus, and Colonel Nagl, and Colonel Crane, and Colonel Kilcullen, and others. They did not fashion the policy in Iraq. They did not decide to go to war. They were all handed a task, and they performed the task they were assigned splendidly, but the very excellence of their execution may have caused them to avoid thinking about the larger picture into which the war in Iraq must fit. That larger pictures has to do with what, really, one is attempting to achieve. Why should we wish the sectarian and ethnic fissures in Iraq to lessen? Why do we have a stake in preventing, for example, co-religionists of the Sunnis in Iraq from sending money, materiel, and men, to help the Sunnis against the Shi'a (so despised by the Saudis, and the Egyptians, and the Jordanians), who refuse for some reason to give the Sunni Arabs what they had grown accustomed to, and what they want still? Why is dividing and demoralizing the Camp of Islam not a goal that makes sense, while the goal assigned to General Petraeus and his men does not make sense? Should they not have at some point begun to think about the Islamic penetration, through use of the Money Weapon, campaigns of Da'wa, and unchecked demographic conquest, in the historic heart of the West, the countries of Western Europe? Too much fixation on a task at hand in Anbar Province can be geopolitically fatal.
And one wonders if those who came up with general laws to be applied to "all insurgencies" had any idea of what an absurdity that is, as absurd as someone stating, after solemn study, that "civil wars, in general, last 3.7 years." This is useless as a statistic, but not more useless than such a statement as "on average, insurgencies last about ten years." "On average"? And what constitutes an "insurgency" in Iraq? Is it Al Qaeda in Iraq against the Americans? Is it Moqtada al-Sadr's men against the Americans? Is it the Dawa Party and the SCIRI Party militias fighting the Sunnis? Is it the Kurds fighting the Arabs in Mosul? Is it the Sunni tribes, receiving American pay and weapons, fighting - for their own purposes - al Qaeda in Iraq? There are a dozen different armed conflicts, or conflicts that have military aspects, in Iraq, and the temporary alliances can shift overnight. The Anbar Sunnis, or many of them, are now showing that they never were the friends of the Americans, and a moment's thought would have made that clear to those who said, uncritically, that "the surge worked."
It is disturbing to think that American military men would ever take Lawrence, he "of Arabia," as an authority to study and revere. Lawrence of Arabia was a mythomane (a congenital liar, who took pleasure in lying), whose military exploits were minor - "his Arabs" did not take Damascus, and "his Arabs" did not even dislodge the Turks from the southern terminus of the Hejaz Railway at Medina, where a Turkish garrison remained throughout the war, and held out even after the war. What they did, in harrying the Hejaz railway, was militarily insignificant, as General Allenby and others knew; the taking of Aqaba, too, was hardly as important as Lawrence allowed himself to believe.
One wonders if some of those entranced with Lawrence's supposed wisdom are themselves not entirely immune from a desire to see themselves as akin to him, or him as they imagine him, at understanding the exotics -- those Arab tribesmen - among whom they have come to create their own local versions of an "Arab Revolt." After Aldington, Kedourie, Kelly, and many other scholars long ago exploded the Lawrentian myth, we have a right to expect that our own military leaders would have known about Lawrence, and even if they did enjoy the movie by David Lean, would have enjoyed it only for the romantic fable it is.
In his Inaugural Lecture delivered in 1967, at the University of Wisconsin, where he had just been appointed as the Professor of British Imperial History, J. B. Kelly discusses "the frauds and deceptions practiced by Lawrence in the Seven Pillars of Wisdom" and the "stylized murkiness of its prose." Kelly asks where the romantic notions, the sentimentalism about the Arabs and other Eastern peoples, came from - he mentions Lady Hester Stanhope - and he discusses the vein of sentimentality that could be discerned, not only in the "amateurs and romantics," but, under a thin veneer, in the minds of supposedly "practical-minded" men who also exhibited, bizarrely, a "reverence for Muslim institutions."
Lawrence went out to the Middle East as "a temporary subaltern, unknown and undistinguished, but harbouring large ambitions in a small frame, a yearning, as he himself put it in the Seven Pillars, 'to do a thing of himself,...a thing so clean as to be his own.' Lawrence found his 'thing' in the Arab revolt, and from the moment that he was fortuitously dispatched to the Hijaz on a minor errand he bent the whole of his energies and all of his peculiar talents towards making the revolt his own. Since he could not make it that - there were too many other, and weightier figures, involved - he used his genius for self-advertisement to make it seem his own, being reckless of, and even taking a perverted satisfaction in, the injustice he was doing the other British and the Arab officers who fought with the Sharifian forces....Lawrence postured and intrigued on his Arabian stage, flattered and indulged by his masters and mentors in Cairo...."
And there is much more in that vein. Kelly is not impressed with Seven Pillars of Wisdom in the slightest, and he quotes contemptuously:
Lawrence coyly recalls in "Seven Pillars of Wisdom" that in September 1918 he made a "saucy threat" to Allenby that he would take Damascus without waiting upon permission to do so. The only drawback to what Lawrence conceived of as an engaging piece of impudence was that the Sharifian forces were incapable of taking Damascus. The Turkish army stood in the way. The road to Damascus was not opened until Allenby defeated the Turks at Megiddo on 18 September. Even then General Barrow's Indian division still had to roll up the remnants of the fourth army east of the Jordan.
As was noted in "Arabia Petraea, or General Petraeus' Middle East (Pt. 1)," it was the Australians who took Damascus, and had the city surrendered to them. But, Kelly notes, "later that day the Sharifian forces entered in triumphant procession, of which Lawrence has left a lyrical description in 'Seven Pillars of Wisdom.' He left out, of course, the bit about the Arabs slaughtering the patients in the hospital, and of course the bit about his standing outside the hospital while the slaughter was going on inside, unhinged, giggling."
And there is more about Seven Pillars of Wisdom in this lecture by Kelly, which one hopes will soon be published, along with Kelly's other articles and essays and reviews that deserve to be collected:
Now the process of the suppression of the truth began, and worse. Not content with blurring and misshaping the story in "Seven Pillars," Lawrence proceeded to calumniate the Australians, saying that he had begged Sir Harry Chauvel, the commander of the mounted division, to keep his men outside the city that night, "because tonight would see such carnival as the town had not held for six hundred years, and its hospitality might pervert their discipline." He then displayed his pique that Chauvel would not salute the Sharifian flag, now flying over the town hall ("I wanted to make faces at his folly"), and at Chauvel's intention to "march through" and not "enter" the city. "It meant," Lawrence writes, in a tone which he thinks of as schoolboy merriment but which emerges as mere petulance, "it meant that instead of going in the middle he would go at the head, or instead of the head, the middle. I forgot, or did not well hear, which: for I should not have cared if he had crawled under or flown over his troops, or split himself to march both sides."
In the next few pages [of Seven Pillars of Wisdom] Lawrence casts aspersions upon the Australians' conduct, discipline, and humanity, dwells upon his own tireless efforts to restore the amenities of Damascus, enlarges upon the tenderness with which he ministered to the wounded Turkish prisoners, and casually mentions, en passant, that a little fighting broke out. With a scornful rebuke for the press correspondents for sending alarming reports of the disorder to Allenby, he laughingly tells how he "accepted" - not that they were needed - an "offer" of troops from Chauvel. Now the truth of all this is very different. The Sharifian forces had begun fighting with the adherents of Faisal's rivals among the Syrian politicians, Turkish prisoners were being butchered, the Bedouin were looting, and Lawrence, for all his claimed spiritual affinity with them, for all his prowess and courage of which they were said to stand in awe, could exert no control over them. It is doubtful if he even tried to do so: Sir Alec Kirkbride, who is now the sole survivor of the band of officers who fought with the Sharifian army, has recounted how Lawrence seemed to have gone into a trance, incapable of word or deed, while K. himself stalked the streets of Damascus with the Australians, revolver in hand, shooting the looters.
It is the measure of the influence of Lawrence's friends that his version of the capture of Damascus gained immediate circulation, not merely after the "Seven Pillars" was made public in 1935 but almost immediately after the event. It could not have gone unchallenged as long as it did - for forty years - had not the creation of the myth served the purposes of others (one must recall the period when Lawrenciana was at its height: the late thirties, in Palestine). It is equally the measure of their determination and unscrupulousness that the perpetuators of the myth, public and private, were quite prepared that this, offensive and perverted version should continue to circulate as long as it did - offensive because it besmirched the character of the Australians, perverted because it subordinated the honor of the many to the cheap glorification of the few.
Lawrence himself, as with so many of the incidents in which he was involved, is the worst of witnesses, as a consequence of his habit of blurring the sharp and uncomfortable outlines of reality with swirling gusts of flaccid prose. The account of his meeting with Allenby in Damascus comes on the penultimate page of the "Seven Pillars": "Mistily I realized that the harsh days of my solitary battling had passed. The lone hand had won against the world's odds, and I might let my limbs relax in this dreamlike confidence and decision and kindness which were Allenby." There follows a cursory description of Allenby's meeting with Faisal and then suddenly, as sudden as Lawrence's departure from Damascus, are at the end of the book:
"When Feisal had gone, I made to Allenby the last (and also I think the first) request I ever made him for myself - leave to go away. For a while he would not have it; but I reasoned, reminding him of his year-old promise, and pointing out how much easier the New Law would be if my spur were absent from the people. In the end he agreed; and then at once I knew how much I was sorry." There is no question here of the warrior-scholar flinging aside his pen, wearied to the point of collapse by the effort of recounting so much that which tormented his mind and his spirit in the immediate past, of recoiling from the horror of war and things best forgotten. The book had too many literary godfathers for that; too many hands, Bernard Shaw's, Robert Graves's, David Garnett's, and others', helped shape the mannered gaucherie of its style. If the book ends abruptly it is not merely to put a merciful end to this dreary flow of disguised rodomontade. After all, its editors considered it a masterpiece, and took a justified pride in their handiwork. As Bernard Shaw said, in reviewing it in the Spectator," (and who better to say it?): "There is a magical brilliance about it,...a Miltonic gloom and grandeur....It is one of the great histories of the world...by an author who has reached the human limit of literary genius and who has packed in to the forepart of his life an adventure of epic bulk and intensity." No, if the literary editors and executors of Lawrence, men who have expended millions of windy words in praise and explanation and extenuation of him, have not seen fit to say more about the manner in which Lawrence left Damascus and Allenby, it cannot be out of a decent reticence. There are things that have to be left unsaid if the mystery is to retain its power.
Kelly quotes, in this lecture, from a brief epilogue that Lawrence appended to Seven Pillars, evidently intended as a coda to the mighty and sonorous movements which precede it, the closing lines of which run: "There remained historical ambition, insubstantial as a motive by itself. I had dreamed, at the City School in Oxford, of hustling into form, while I lived, the new Asia which time was inexorably bringing upon us. Mecca was to lead to Damascus; Damascus to Anatolia, and afterwards to Baghdad; and then there was Yemen. Fantasies these will see, to such as are able to call my beginning an ordinary effort."
Isn't this grandiosity, for himself, but for himself in the context of re-making a world, a "new Asia" where Mecca would lead to Damascus, Damascus to Anatolia, and then to Baghdad, and "then there was Yemen" exactly the kind of thing that one should be wary of, something one should deplore? Isn't it akin in its own way to the messianic sentimentalism of the Bush Administration that went to war in Iraq in order to "re-make" Iraq, to create a Light Unto the Muslim Nations? Aren't all these grand schemes, or even schemes less grand, deplorable -- as in Afghanistan, or Pakistan, where we now hear that there are plans afoot for large numbers of American civilians to remain to "re-make" as much as they can of these places, even after the military withdraw? (That the civilians will not possibly be able to exist safely without a large military presence appears to be one more of those obvious things that keeps being - like Islam itself - overlooked.) Only later did Bush discover that it was most unlikely 1) that Iraq could be re-made as a liberal Western democracy or anything close to one; and 2) that any Sunni Arab state would never take as its model an Arab state where the Sunnis had been forced by events to give up power to the mistrusted, and often despised Shi'a.
Yes, there are "lessons" to be drawn from Lawrence's Seven Pillars, all right, but they are not exactly the lessons he intended to draw. They are things we can learn not to do, and one of those things is to avoid grand schemes, or people who enjoy going native, and thinking they are using the locals, when it should be obvious to all that the locals, in the case of the Sharifians, were all along using him. (My, how Lawrence's Arabs made out like bandits, not only during but then after the War.) They did little, and received much during the war. And after the war? Well, what about the Emirate of Transjordan? What about the kingdom of Iraq? How's that, just for a start? The Sharifians did not do so badly, did they, in addition to all that gold and all those rifles?
Kelly quotes one last passage from Seven Pillars, in which Lawrence appears to briefly recognize his own illusions:
"A man who gives himself to be a possession of aliens leads a Yahoo life, having bartered his soul to a brute master. He is not of them. He may stand against them, persuade himself of a mission, batter and twist them into something which they, of their own accord, would not have been. Then he is exploiting his old environment to press them out of theirs, Or, after my model, he may imitate them so well that they spuriously imitate him back again."
The belief that the Arabs of Iraq, or the Afghans of Afghanistan, or many in Pakistan, can be battered and twisted, or bribed and bribed, to become like us, or that we should, in our dealings with them, "imitate them" and then possibly be fooled as they, in turn, "spuriously imitate us" (a variant on the Gunga Din problem, of our sympathetic identification with a handful of locals, forgetting all the rest), is something to be guarded soberly against. But the American government has squandered, and is squandering, money, men and materiel, and shows no signs of pulling back. It cannot, its upper ranks cannot, begin to grasp the ideology of Islam. And so the waste continues, continues and kills.
I have quoted at length from Kelly's unpublished lecture because there was no point in putting his own perfectly expressed analysis in words less precise and less telling. But I see I have spent an essay's worth of your time not, as previously promised, on the "Twenty-Seven Articles," but almost entirely on Seven Pillars.
But there's a reason for that. And the reason is that, along with the "Twenty-Seven Articles," another work that General Petraeus has apparently been recommending to one and all as some kind of guide to their mission in Iraq is Lawrence's Seven Pillars.
Kelly has described the "the frauds and deceptions practiced by Lawrence in the 'Seven Pillars of Wisdom'" and the "stylized murkiness of its prose." He has shown, in detail, especially in Lawrence's account of the taking of Damascus (Sir Harry Chauvel, the Sharifians, the massacre at the hospital, the encounter with Allenby, the dismissal of Lawrence by Allenby), just how meretricious, unreliable, and self-serving, Lawrence was. It is not surprising that the general public is unaware of this; for them, the myth of Lawrence remains as it was back in the mid-1930s or mid-1920s. But General Petraeus, and his collaborating colonels, are readers, and one expects that they would at the very least have been repelled by that "stylized murkiness," and that some faint hint of Lawrence's mythomania would have reached them.
Apparently it has not.
And now, given the space and time devoted to the Seven Pillars, I will deal with the "Twenty-Seven Questions" that, along with the Seven Pillars, are said to have been so influential among some in the American military, in what was to have been a second, but will now constitute a third, and final, part.
Fitzgerald: Arabia Petraea, Or General Petraeus' Middle East (Part 3)
In 1918, T. E. Lawrence set down some advice for his fellow British military men (and civilians) on Understanding and Dealing with the Bedu for "beginners in the Arab armies." Given that Lawrence had been working with the Sharifian forces for less than two years, his assumption that he was now in a position to lecture "beginners in the Arab armies" may strike some as comical. Lawrence, with ostentatious modesty, called his homiletic collection "Twenty-Seven Articles," for reasons that will appear, once you have read the piece, arithmetically obvious.
Here is that piece. Immediately after each part I have a commentary on what is said, and then, after the last of the "twenty-seven articles," discussion of what, after all, the whole thing is about, and how useful it is, and what other kind of information might have been more relevant and more useful to the American soldiers and Marines in Iraq.
The following notes have been expressed in commandment form for greater clarity and to save words. They are, however, only my personal conclusions, arrived at gradually while I worked in the Hejaz and now put on paper as stalking horses for beginners in the Arab armies. They are meant to apply only to Bedu; townspeople or Syrians require totally different treatment. They are of course not suitable to any other person's need, or applicable unchanged in any particular situation. Handling Hejaz Arabs is an art, not a science, with exceptions and no obvious rules. At the same time we have a great chance there; the Sherif [in this case, the tribal chief of the family who had been the Guardians of the Two Noble Sanctuaries] trusts us, and has given us the position (towards his Government) which the Germans wanted to win in Turkey. [What government is that? The only "government" the Sherifians, in 1918, on the run from the Al-Saud coming from Nejd--who within two years would win their final battle with the Shammar tribe -- could look forward to possessing was whatever they persuaded the British to give them.] If we are tactful, we can at once retain his goodwill and carry out our job, but to succeed we have got to put into it all the interest and skill we possess.
1. Go easy for the first few weeks. A bad start is difficult to atone for, and the Arabs form their judgments on externals that we ignore. When you have reached the inner circle in a tribe, you can do as you please with yourself and them.
Comment: Polonius-like. "Go easy for the first few weeks." Wait until you have "reached the inner circle" - apparently T. E. Lawrence thought that he had "reached the inner circle" of the Sharifian forces, but had he? Where is the evidence that the Arabs were used by T. E. Lawrence? Does not all the evidence suggest, instead, that he had to keep plying them with gold sovereigns ("the cavalry of St. George"), and supplying them with weaponry, and they would then do pretty much as they liked? And what they liked were wild-and-woolly raids on the Hejaz Railway, but without much staying power, without any strategic thought, without any significant military impact.
This attitude, one which takes for granted that it would be possible for Infidel British to "retain his goodwill" if only we "put into it all the interest and skill we possess" misreads, or overlooks, the estranging fact of Islam. It would have been better for Lawrence to explain Arab behavior in other terms, terms that begin with the unshakable fact of Islam, and what it must mean for any Infidels, who should never confuse temporary inveiglements and overlapping interests with the possibility of any real alliance.
2. Learn all you can about your Ashraf and Bedu. Get to know their families, clans and tribes, friends and enemies, wells, hills and roads. Do all this by listening and by indirect inquiry. Do not ask questions. Get to speak their dialect of Arabic, not yours. Until you can understand their allusions, avoid getting deep into conversation or you will drop bricks. Be a little stiff at first.
Comment: This "learn all you can...about the Bedu" reminds me of a course at Harvard Business School called "Decision Theory," the first class of which a friend invited me to attend. The very energetic instructor spent the class using a lot of completely irrelevant calculus on the blackboard of the lecture hall, designed no doubt to impress the students, but the contents of his class that day could be summed up this way: "If you have to decide between A and B, learn all you can about A. Then learn all you can about B. Then decide."
Here we have Lawrence telling those who will be working with the Bedu to learn all they can about them, their "families, clans, tribes, friends and enemies, wells, hills and roads." Learn their dialect of Arabic -- instead of what? A dialect they don't understand, a dialect that does not allow you to communicate with them or to understand what they are saying? Who would ever have thought otherwise? Wait until you understand their "allusions." Note that most of the "allusions" by the Bedu or the urban Arabs consist of references to the life of Muhammad, especially battles between the early Muslims (Muhammad and his Companions) and those who resisted them, and to passages in the Qur'an or stories in the Hadith. So the advice might have been put thus: Learn as much as you can about the Qur'an and Hadith, and about the life of Muhammad, for he is for Muslims the Model and Exemplar, the Perfect Man. Familiarize yourself with the most important Qur'anic passages, the most quoted Hadith, the most significant events in the life of Muhammad. You will be appalled by Muhammad, but you should hide your reaction; remember these are primitive people in thrall to a Total Belief-System, and it is so much a part of them that they cannot begin to recognize their thralldom.
3. In matters of business deal only with the commander of the army, column, or party in which you serve. Never give orders to anyone at all, and reserve your directions or advice for the C.O., however great the temptation (for efficiency's sake) of dealing with his underlings. Your place is advisory, and your advice is due to the commander alone. Let him see that this is your conception of your duty, and that his is to be the sole executive of your joint plans.
Comment: This might be phrased more directly thus: The Arabs are used to submitting to absolute authority, and those holding authority, whatever that authority is, are used to receiving unquestioning obedience. Make sure you, especially as an Infidel, exhibit deference to that highest-ranking Arab, never telling but always advising, and do not directly communicate with those under him; he must be the conduit.
4. Win and keep the confidence of your leader. Strengthen his prestige at your expense before others when you can. Never refuse or quash schemes he may put forward; but ensure that they are put forward in the first instance privately to you. Always approve them, and after praise modify them insensibly, causing the suggestions to come from him, until they are in accord with your own opinion. When you attain this point, hold him to it, keep a tight grip of his ideas, and push them forward as firmly as possibly, but secretly, so that to one but himself (and he not too clearly) is aware of your pressure.
Comment: More Polonius, merely an extension of #3. Arab leaders do not accept direct criticism. Treat them like children, flatter them, never contradict or criticize them or their schemes. And if you need to modify those schemes, pretend those modifications were part of his original idea all along. Islam is based on submission to authority, and as Muslims are used to being told they must never question authority, make sure you do nothing to call it, however obliquely, into even the slightest question. He cannot lose face. Those under him must not question him themselves, nor be witness to Infidels daring to question him.
5. Remain in touch with your leader as constantly and unobtrusively as you can. Live with him, that at meal times and at audiences you may be naturally with him in his tent. Formal visits to give advice are not so good as the constant dropping of ideas in casual talk. When stranger sheikhs come in for the first time to swear allegiance and offer service, clear out of the tent. If their first impression is of foreigners in the confidence of the Sherif, it will do the Arab cause much harm.
Comment: spend as much time with him as possible, but don't flatter yourself that you have actually become his confidant or that you, in turn, should ever fully trust him. He will do exactly as he wishes to further his own interests, and if temporarily his interests and your interests, in his view, coincide, then you may win his collaboration. But he does not trust you, and if you trust him you have not sunk below the surface of Arab and Muslim life.
Don't let other sheikhs think for one minute that you, a non-Muslim, could have managed to be taken into the confidence of the Sherif; that would cause his stature, his hold over his men, to diminish. No Muslim should be seen entering into a relationship of real intimacy and trust with an Infidel, for to do so would contradict the spirit and letter of Islam, and would alarm. However, seeing one's Sheikh inveigle non-Muslims for his own, Muslim, purposes will not arouse criticism from his men, but admiration.
6. Be shy of too close relations with the subordinates of the expedition. Continual intercourse with them will make it impossible for you to avoid going behind or beyond the instructions that the Arab C.O. has given them on your advice, and in so disclosing the weakness of his position you altogether destroy your own.
Comment: part of #5. Authority is based on unquestioning submission; don't come between the Arab C.O. and any of the men from whom he expects such submission. You weaken him, and he will never forgive you for this, and may become your enemy.
7. Treat the sub-chiefs of your force quite easily and lightly. In this way you hold yourself above their level. Treat the leader, if a Sherif, with respect. He will return your manner and you and he will then be alike, and above the rest. Precedence is a serious matter among the Arabs, and you must attain it.
Comment: forget the rules of Western man, and adopt the ways of Muslim man. Do not show interest in their views, or even their wellbeing. Save all of that for the Sherif. You must be like him: "above the rest." That is the rule in Islam, for all the prating about the "naturalness" and "justice" of Islamic social relations: a hierarchy, with differences between ruler and ruled, in any context, far wider than anywhere in the West.
8. Your ideal position is when you are present and not noticed. Do not be too intimate, too prominent, or too earnest. Avoid being identified too long or too often with any tribal sheikh, even if C.O. of the expedition. To do your work you must be above jealousies, and you lose prestige if you are associated with a tribe or clan, and its inevitable feuds. Sherifs are above all blood-feuds and local rivalries, and form the only principle of unity among the Arabs. Let your name therefore be coupled always with a Sherif's, and share his attitude towards the tribes.
When the moment comes for action put yourself publicly under his orders. The Bedu will then follow suit.
Comment: You must lose your own identity in that of the Sherif. You must be self-effacing. He is the center of attention at all times. Do not take any position on your own, even if you know it to make sense or that it would promote British interests; always submit to, and mimic his views.
9. Magnify and develop the growing conception of the Sherifs as the natural aristocracy of the Arabs. Intertribal jealousies make it impossible for any sheikh to attain a commanding position, and the only hope of union in nomad Arabs is that the Ashraf be universally acknowledged as the ruling class. Sherifs are half-townsmen, half-nomad, in manner and life, and have the instinct of command. Mere merit and money would be insufficient to obtain such recognition; but the Arab reverence for pedigree and the Prophet gives hope for the ultimate success of the Ashraf.
Comment: extension of 6, 7, 8. Arab tribes are always at one another's throats. Lawrence refers to the "Ashraf" - that is the Arab plural for "sharif," and here there is some confusion. The word "sherif" can apply to members of the descendants of the Prophet, and Lawrence's particular "Sherif" was from the very family that had been entrusted with the task of serving as the Guardians of the Two Holy Sanctuaries (Mecca and Medina). But the word "sharif" can also mean, loosely, a tribal chief or emir. So what, after all, does the advice come down to? That the ruling class, or those with an immediate claim to being the rulers, are those with the "pedigree" of such descent.
Think for a minute of how airily Lawrence notes that "the Arab reverence for pedigree and the Prophet gives hope for the ultimate success of the Ashraf" - while "mere merit and money would be insufficient to obtain such recognition." So "merit" - the ideal basis for leadership, anywhere - is with a phrase dismissed. And "money" was the entire basis of Lawrence's relationship with the "Sharifian forces" - the money given to them to buy or rather rent loyalty, and the money given to them to buy guns when the guns were not given outright.
And should not Lawrence have taken the occasion to explain that if "pedigree" counts, it is only "pedigree" in relation to Islam, to Muhammad? No other "pedigree" really matters. And should he not have explained why there is no equality, no nascent democracy, among the Arabs? (By the way, elsewhere Lawrence does contradict himself, and describes something akin to the democracy of the desert, when what he is really describing is a state of anarchy, of each tribe against each tribe, with lives of permanent razzias and warfare.)
He might have put it this way:
"Remember: there is no democracy or natural equality among the Arabs. Individuals do not matter, but are submissive to the Ruler as they are submissive, in their faith, to the not-to-be-questioned authority of Allah. The ruler is an absolute despot, and what justifies his rule is his status as a Muslim. Descendants of Muhammad, real or imaginary, have pride of place: because Muhammad is the most important human who ever lived, the Model of Conduct, the Perfect Man (al-insan al-kamil). Where in the advanced West we at least try to consider individual merit, the Arabs consider the family pedigree, and the surest claim to rule is that of descent from Muhammad. This is not limited to the Arabs of Arabia. The rulers of Morocco claim, too, to be a Sherifian house. The relationship to the Muhammad trumps everything else."
10. Call your Sherif 'Sidi' in public and in private. Call other people by their ordinary names, without title. In intimate conversation call a Sheikh 'Abu Annad', 'Akhu Alia' or some similar by-name.
Comment: extension of 6,7, 8, 9. Show obeisance in public to the Sherif, and in private, make use of one of the other names by which he is known. Study the Arab system of naming, that is, Kunya. Try to master some of it. Individualism as we understand it has no place in Islam. Everyone is connected, in this most collectivist of faiths. You may be connected to a place: the town from which you are born, Al-Baghdadi, Al-Tikiri, or country with which you or some ancestors were associated: Al-Misri, Al-Ajami. You may be known by an honorific connecting you to your son, or to your father, or to an event, or to a cause: Abu Jihad, Abu Ammar, and so on. The elaborate Kunya system of naming suppresses the individual, treats him as part of a continuum: the son of, the father of, or of the greater collective, and perhaps that system deserved from Lawrence a word or two of analysis, which he failed to provide.
11. The foreigner and Christian is not a popular person in Arabia. However friendly and informal the treatment of yourself may be, remember always that your foundations are very sandy ones. Wave a Sherif in front of you like a banner and hide your own mind and person. If you succeed, you will have hundreds of miles of country and thousands of men under your orders, and for this it is worth bartering the outward show.
Comment: Surely this is the most important point, wrongly stated by Lawrence. To state that "the foreigner and Christian is not a popular person in Arabia" is misleading; it would be like writing, in 1918, that "Germans are not popular in England." It does not convey the fact that no Muslims can possibly be expected to be anything but the most temporary of allies with Infidels, whom they deeply mistrust, and any British officer who was to believe that some local gunga-din, "his friendship forged in war," really meant him well and could be trusted, was a fool. Dozens of American and other Infidel soldiers have been killed by Muslims whom they were training, or with whom they went on missions, precisely because the American commanders believed that such a phrase as "the foreigner and Christian is not a popular person in Arabia" was enough of a warning about inculcated Muslim hostility toward all Infidels. It was not in Lawrence's day; it is not now. Lawrence kept fooling himself about the Sherifians: they wanted money, weapons, and after the Turks were defeated, they wanted countries for themselves. And they got those countries, even had those countries specially created for them: Iraq was created out of three former Ottoman vilayets (Basra, Baghdad, Mosul); Jordan, that is, the Emirate of Transjordan, was created out of Eastern Palestine, territory intended by the League of Nations to be included in, and covered by the provisions of, the Mandate for Palestine. Instead, when Faisal was put on the throne of Iraq by the British, his older brother Abdullah clamored for a country he could call his own, and the result was that Emirate of Transjordan that, in 1946, became the Kingdom of Jordan.
Some may think that Lawrence's next item adequately conveys the meretriciousness and disguised but deep and permanent hostility of the Arabs to Infidels: "However friendly and informal the treatment of yourself may be, remember always that your foundations are very sandy ones. Wave a Sherif in front of you like a banner and hide your own mind and person. If you succeed, you will have hundreds of miles of country and thousands of men under your orders, and for this it is worth bartering the outward show." I don't think it does. And as for the last bit of advice - "Wave a Sherif in front of you like a banner and hide your own mind and person. If you succeed, you will have hundreds of miles of country and thousands of men under your orders, and for this it is worth bartering the outward show" - it has no relevance, if the military men in question don't happen to have within reach a "Sharif" - one of the Ashraf - that is, a member of the family that was entrusted with the guardianship of the Two Holy Sanctuaries of Mecca and Medina. As general advice, it is irrelevant; it is worthless.
12. Cling tight to your sense of humour. You will need it every day. A dry irony is the most useful type, and repartee of a personal and not too broad character will double your influence with the chiefs. Reproof, if wrapped up in some smiling form, will carry further and last longer than the most violent speech. The power of mimicry or parody is valuable, but use it sparingly, for wit is more dignified than humour. Do not cause a laugh at a Sherif except among Sherifs.
Comment: Perfectly Polonius. Not less, but not more. Keep your sense of humor, a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down, don't be too sarcastic with the natives, and don't make fun of whoever is the local chief. No Infidel should dare to criticize or mock a Muslim, unless given an explicit sign by someone of high rank that it is permissible, but only very gently and circumspectly, to do so. And no sally ever can be directed at something to do with someone's observance of Islam, but only at some personal foible.
13. Never lay hands on an Arab; you degrade yourself. You may think the resultant obvious increase of outward respect a gain to you, but what you have really done is to build a wall between you and their inner selves. It is difficult to keep quiet when everything is being done wrong, but the less you lose your temper the greater your advantage. Also then you will not go mad yourself.
Comment: The notion that if you "lay hands on an Arab" that it is this that "build[s] a wall between you and their inner selves" is misleading. There is already an "inner wall" that long ago was built by Islam to prevent you, the Infidel, from understanding, or gaining entry even to the antechamber, of their inner selves. You must tell yourself, remind yourself, at every step: I don't really know what that man is thinking. I don't really know what he thinks of me, or what, if he could do anything, he would do to me. If you take any other attitude, you are risking your life and that of your men.
14. While very difficult to drive, the Bedu are easy to lead, if you have the patience to bear with them. The less apparent your interferences the more your influence. They are willing to follow your advice and do what you wish, but they do not mean you or anyone else to be aware of that. It is only after the end of all annoyances that you find at bottom their real fund of goodwill.
Comment: The Bedu will not take obvious direction from a non-Muslim, but will do so if they can save face by merely "taking advice" that will, in their eyes, contribute to their own wellbeing and promotion of their interests. They have no larger goal than more power and more loot and greater aggrandizement, and they will not suffer any command from any Infidel. Only commands that are packaged as something else -- as advice, given hesitantly -- are likely to work. And that is because a gulf separates Muslim from Infidel, not to be permanently bridged. But where interests happen to coincide, a perilously swaying footbridge may be constructed, requiring a temporary suspension of belief by the Muslim in the perfidy of the Infidel, in order not to collapse into the waiting abyss below.
15. 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. Actually, also, under the very odd conditions of Arabia, your practical work will not be as good as, perhaps, you think it is.
Comment: Polonius-level, and inaccurate to boot. "It is their war" - the war against the Turks was fought by the Allies, and the major victories in the theatre of war with which Lawrence was familiar were made entirely by the British and Australian troops, with intelligence provided by the Palestinian Jews of the Nili Group. Then there is the vagueness of "the very odd conditions of Arabia" - which are what? The sand? The camels? The minds of Muslim men? He should spell out those "odd conditions." To me the oddest condition, and the one that explains why "your practical work will not be as good as, perhaps, you think it is" is that you will delude yourself into thinking you have had a greater effect on the Muslims and their attitudes that you really have had, but you will realize, after the fact - Lawrence himself, in his last years, expressed in his Letters, obliquely, his own great disappointment in the Arabs - that so much of it was wasted effort. I am sure that in 2-3 years all those involved in the Iraq venture, including General Petraeus and his colonels, will come to realize how misguided it was, and what a fantastic squandering of resources - men, money, materiel, attention - it represented. These resources are misdirected when the war of self-defense against the Jihad requires other, more effective, far less costly methods. But the main theatre of war will then be recognized, by more in the American military, as not being in Iraq, nor Afghanistan, nor Pakistan, but rather within the countries of Western Europe.
16. If you can, without being too lavish, forestall presents to yourself. A well-placed gift is often most effective in winning over a suspicious sheikh. Never receive a present without giving a liberal return, but you may delay this return (while letting its ultimate certainty be known) if you require a particular service from the giver. Do not let them ask you for things, since their greed will then make them look upon you only as a cow to milk.
Comment: There's a whole lot of gift-giving among the Arabs, as a way of currying favor. So do it yourself - bribe and ply them with things. But the idea that you will be "winning over a suspicious sheikh" is wrong. You won't have won him over. You will have temporarily rented, just possibly, and to what extent you will not be able to gauge, his services or his temporary collaboration.
One point Lawrence makes is one that should be put up in CAPS all over Congress, the Executive Office Building, and the Pentagon too: "Do not let them ask you for things, since their greed will then make them look upon you only as a cow to milk." But that's exactly what has happened in Iraq, in Pakistan, in Afghanistan, and now in Yemen. It doesn't have to be this or that individual; it is the "Pakistani military," say, or "the Iraqi government." They are out to get absolutely as much as they can, and the favorite phrase uttered by various Arabs has been - listen closely - the "Marshall Plan." That is, they have the gall to pretend, or to try to make us pretend, that they, Muslims and Arabs, are as much a part of our civilization as were the war-ravaged countries of Western Europe. But the economic paralysis in Muslim lands is not the result of war, but of their own inshallah-fatalism and hatred of bid'a, innovation. The fact that not even the U.A.E., Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, any of the fabulously rich, grotesquely rich, recipients of the more than twelve trillion dollars that have gone to the Muslim members of OPEC since 1973 alone, has managed to get off total reliance on oil, to create the semblance of a real economy, is telling. But while it is telling, those who have been both making and executing American policy appear not to have been listening or grasping this, and so they keep coming back to more American aid, failing to recognize that Islam will always prevent the kind of economic development that we think we are encouraging, and for which we have been shelling out so much.
17. Wear an Arab headcloth when with a tribe. Bedu have a malignant prejudice against the hat, and believe that our persistence in wearing it (due probably to British obstinacy of dictation) is founded on some immoral or irreligious principle. A thick headcloth forms a good protection against the sun, and if you wear a hat your best Arab friends will be ashamed of you in public.
Comment: What Lawrence describes as a "malignant prejudice against the hat" has to do with the hat being associated with non-Muslims, with Christians, with the West. When Ataturk passed the Hat Act, banning the fez and requiring the wearing of Western-style hats and caps, he was delivering a blow against Islam. This is not understood in the West, but the Hat Act was part of his systematic campaign to constrain the power of Islam (in the absence of the ability to take Islam straight on, which would have been impossible, even for Ataturk). The fez allowed one to bow during those canonical prayers, and easily; the Western hat or cap had to be removed for prayer. It's one more thing to put in a pile, along with shoes, at the entry to a mosque, and then to try to retrieve successfully.
18. Disguise is not advisable. Except in special areas, let it be clearly known that you are a British officer and a Christian. At the same time, if you can wear Arab kit when with the tribes, you will acquire their trust and intimacy to a degree impossible in uniform. It is, however, dangerous and difficult. They make no special allowances for you when you dress like them. Breaches of etiquette not charged against a foreigner are not condoned to you in Arab clothes. You will be like an actor in a foreign theatre, playing a part day and night for months, without rest, and for an anxious stake. Complete success, which is when the Arabs forget your strangeness and speak naturally before you, counting you as one of themselves, is perhaps only attainable in character: while half-success (all that most of us will strive for; the other costs too much) is easier to win in British things, and you yourself will last longer, physically and mentally, in the comfort that they mean. Also then the Turks will not hang you, when you are caught.
Comment: Why is "disguise not advisable"? Because you are already, as "a British officer and a Christian," a figure of suspicion. Don't try to hide it - as if such were possible. (Charles Foucault traveled in Morocco disguised as a rabbi, it's true, but few would have had Foucault's abilities.) On the other hand, wearing "Arab kit," Lawrence thinks, may make "the Arabs forget your strangeness and speak naturally before you, counting you as one of themselves." If he allowed himself to believe that, he really was deluded. The point about the Turks not hanging you, however, is a good one - but irrelevant to what American soldiers need to learn, preferably before they go to Iraq.
19. If you wear Arab things, wear the best. Clothes are significant among the tribes, and you must wear the appropriate, and appear at ease in them. Dress like a Sherif, if they agree to it.
Comment: Polonius on Madison Avenue: look sharp and feel sharp. A Men's Warehouse Ad. Who could disagree? Are there others who don't care if you make an impression with your dress? Not likely, not back in 1918.
20. If you wear Arab things at all, go the whole way. Leave your English friends and customs on the coast, and fall back on Arab habits entirely. It is possible, starting thus level with them, for the European to beat the Arabs at their own game, for we have stronger motives for our action, and put more heart into it than they. If you can surpass them, you have taken an immense stride toward complete success, but the strain of living and thinking in a foreign and half-understood language, the savage food, strange clothes, and stranger ways, with the complete loss of privacy and quiet, and the impossibility of ever relaxing your watchful imitation of the others for months on end, provide such an added stress to the ordinary difficulties of dealing with the Bedu, the climate, and the Turks, that this road should not be chosen without serious thought.
Comment: An extension of the previous three. Fit in with the Arabs, accustom yourself to the savage food" and "strange clothes," endure "the complete loss of privacy and quiet," accept "the impossibility of ever relaxing your watchful imitation." In other words, if you can do the impossible, that only....well, that I, Lawrence of Arabia, have managed to do, then do it. On second thought, don't even bother. No one else could do what I have done.
21. Religious discussions will be frequent. Say what you like about your own side, and avoid criticism of theirs, unless you know that the point is external, when you may score heavily by proving it so. With the Bedu, Islam is so all-pervading an element that there is little religiosity, little fervour, and no regard for externals. Do not think from their conduct that they are careless. Their conviction of the truth of their faith, and its share in every act and thought and principle of their daily life is so intimate and intense as to be unconscious, unless roused by opposition. Their religion is as much a part of nature to them as is sleep or food.
Comment: Surely this should not be placed so far down, as #21, almost an afterthought, long after the sartorial advice and that about being careful how you treat your particular sharif. "Religious discussions will be frequent"? What does this tell us? How "frequent" are "religious discussions" in the military of non-Muslims? Good to know that among the Bedu "Islam is so all-pervading an element" that there need not be fervor - in other words, they take the centrality and rightness of Islam to be so obvious, that they need not think about it. Good for Lawrence to note that their faith, and "its share in ever act and thought and principle of their daily life is so intimate and intense as to be unconscious...[that] their religion is as much a part of nature to them as is sleep or food" - this is surely the most important remark in the entire piece. But Lawrence does not explain what has to be made explicit: that Islam is based not only on the rituals of worship, that is, the Five Pillars, but also rests on a division of all of humanity between Muslim and non-Muslim, and inculcates the idea that between the two a state of permanent hostility, of permanent war, but not always open warfare, must exist. Had he said this, he might have usefully warned against any great expectations or hopes, sensibly dashing them. But he did not. And those who take Lawrence as a guide, if they fail to note just what Islam inculcates at this point - this faith that is "in every act and thought and principle of their daily life" - are misleading others.
But could they? Could the Fort Leavenworth colonels, could General Petraeus, really enlighten their troops about what Islam teaches, what the texts and tenets tell us, what attitudes and atmospherics naturally arise among Muslims? I don't think they could. Because if they were to fully grasp what this meant, they would lose belief in the mission, and as good soldiers, they are willing, apparently, to ignore those parts of reality that get in the way of, that might cause them abandon hope for, the mission with which they have been entrusted.
But what about those under them, what about the lieutenants and captains and privates who have experienced training, going out on missions with, trusting, Muslim Iraqis, both Arabs and Kurds? When, for example, those soldiers notice how much more trustworthy are the Kurds than the Arabs, what are they to make of it? Are they to be told, truthfully, that this is not only a result of American protection for Kurds from 1991 to 2003, by providing air cover from attacks by the Arabs, but that the non-Arab ethnic identity of Kurds does not reinforce, but works against, the power and hold of Islam, and that this is a lesson likely to be useful in other, though not in all, Muslim countries? For example, in Afghanistan that might be true, but less so in Pakistan, a state founded of, by, and for Muslims, while Afghanistan was a state whose various peoples were, over time, Islamized, and where, until recently, because of the level of life, the full message of Islam had not quite, in its full and consequently most dangerous form, been disseminated.
22. Do not try to trade on what you know of fighting. The Hejaz confounds ordinary tactics. Learn the Bedu principles of war as thoroughly and as quickly as you can, for till you know them your advice will be no good to the Sherif. Unnumbered generations of tribal raids have taught them more about some parts of the business than we will ever know. In familiar conditions they fight well, but strange events cause panic. Keep your unit small. Their raiding parties are usually from one hundred to two hundred men, and if you take a crowd they only get confused. Also their sheikhs, while admirable company commanders, are too 'set' to learn to handle the equivalents of battalions or regiments. Don't attempt unusual things, unless they appeal to the sporting instinct Bedu have so strongly, unless success is obvious. If the objective is a good one (booty) they will attack like fiends, they are splendid scouts, their mobility gives you the advantage that will win this local war, they make proper use of their knowledge of the country (don't take tribesmen to places they do not know), and the gazelle-hunters, who form a proportion of the better men, are great shots at visible targets. A sheikh from one tribe cannot give orders to men from another; a Sherif is necessary to command a mixed tribal force. If there is plunder in prospect, and the odds are at all equal, you will win. Do not waste Bedu attacking trenches (they will not stand casualties) or in trying to defend a position, for they cannot sit still without slacking. The more unorthodox and Arab your proceedings, the more likely you are to have the Turks cold, for they lack initiative and expect you to. Don't play for safety.
Comment: Here there is oblique recognition of what we all know now to be true: the Sharifian forces never at any time included more than a few hundred warriors, on camel or horse, and the Bedu cannot be trained to Western standards of organization; neither they nor their sheikhs can "learn to handle the equivalent of battalions or regiments." The Bedu, according to Lawrence, are used to raiding - they lived by raiding, in fact - but they won't try something "unusual" by way of tactics or target unless their "sporting instinct" dictates otherwise (fine fellows, those Bedu, practically ready for the cricket ground at Lord's, with their upper-class "sporting instinct"). But Lawrence does mention that they have a higher goal - for them a most important goal - "if the objective is a good one (booty) they will attack like fiends." In other words, they are out, like the earliest Muslims, for loot, and that, not some higher ideal, is what moves them. "They will not stand casualties" - in other words, they are easily turned back, apparently, and they lack patience - "they cannot sit still without slacking." Note how here Lawrence has brought in the Turks, no longer giving advice on the Arabs, instructing his readers that those "lack initiative and expect you to." That's the kind of remark that led to the British disaster at Gallipoli.
23. The open reason that Bedu give you for action or inaction may be true, but always there will be better reasons left for you to divine. You must find these inner reasons (they will be denied, but are none the less in operation) before shaping your arguments for one course or other. Allusion is more effective than logical exposition: they dislike concise expression. Their minds work just as ours do, but on different premises. There is nothing unreasonable, incomprehensible, or inscrutable in the Arab. Experience of them, and knowledge of their prejudices will enable you to foresee their attitude and possible course of action in nearly every case.
Comment: The gist here is that the Arabs, or rather the subset known as the Bedu (that is, the nomadic tribes of the desert), will never level with you, and it is up to you to discover the secret wellsprings of their actions or inactions. Lawrence says: "they dislike concise expression." Translated: they are florid in their interminable speeches, and you can never get them to get to the bottom of something, or to express themselves clearly. "Their minds work just as ours do" -- do they? Are the powers of logic, is the familiarity with free and skeptical inquiry, just as advanced among Muslim Bedu as among the representatives of the most advanced societies, those of the West?
24. Do not mix Bedu and Syrians, or trained men and tribesmen. You will get work out of neither, for they hate each other. I have never seen a successful combined operation, but many failures. In particular, ex-officers of the Turkish army, however Arab in feelings and blood and language, are hopeless with Bedu. They are narrow minded in tactics, unable to adjust themselves to irregular warfare, clumsy in Arab etiquette, swollen-headed to the extent of being incapable of politeness to a tribesman for more than a few minutes, impatient, and, usually, helpless without their troops on the road and in action. Your orders (if you were unwise enough to give any) would be more readily obeyed by Beduins than those of any Mohammedan Syrian officer. Arab townsmen and Arab tribesmen regard each other mutually as poor relations, and poor relations are much more objectionable than poor strangers.
Comment: Town and Country do not mix well or play with others: "they hate each other." No such thing as a "successful combined operation." And if you have been in the Turkish army, even if Arab by ethnicity and identification and language, you will "be helpless with the Bedu." Then there is a sentence which I assume refers to the urban Arabs, the "Syrians" as Lawrence calls them: "[T]hey are narrow indeed in tactics, unable to adjust themselves to irregular warfare, clumsy in Arab etiquette, swollen-headed to the extent of being incapable of politeness to a tribesman for more than a few minutes, impatient, and, usually, helpless without their troops on the road and in action." Now who are these "Syrians"? He means the northern Arabs, the Arabs of Syria, Lebanon, of what became Mandatory Palestine, the Arabs who stand in contradistinction to the true, pure Arabs of the Arabian desert. Incidentally, this distinction is to be found today, and one can find, at www.MEMRITV.org, for example, contempt expressed by those "Syrians" - that is, the Arabs of the north, the Arabs who live in towns and are not nomadic, the Arabs who regard with contempt for the "desert Arabs" of Arabia who are not, so the northern ones insist, "civilized," not part of the "civilization" that such words as "Umayyad" (Syria) and "Abbasid" (Iraq) and "Fatimid" (Egypt) evoke. And even more maddening today, for the "sophisticated" (a relative term) Arabs of Damascus, Baghdad, Cairo, and other northern centers, is that those desert Arabs, those primitives, are the ones who have all the money, and that maddens further, especially when they arrive in Cairo or Beirut or Damascus where rich Muslim Arab boys just want to have fun, and are not shy about treating the locals with contempt.
But surely there is something here that needs to be brought up to date, made relevant to the situation in Iraq - for which General Petraeus and his colonels were attempting to prepare themselves and others. The divisions in Iraq that count are not so much between the desert tribes and the urban population of Baghdad, or Basra or Mosul (still quite tribal, with a veneer of urban civilization that, now that the Jews are no longer in Baghdad, and now that the Christians are being harried out of Basra, Baghdad, and Mosul, becomes more translucent every day), but between Sunnis and Shi'a, or Arabs and Kurds, or Muslims and Christians, Muslims and Yazidis, Muslims and Mandeans and every other teeny-tiny remnant of an ancient sect, surviving where it can only because the Muslims have not until now turned their attention to making their lives even more insecure and deeply unpleasant than they have been.
25. In spite of ordinary Arab example, avoid too free talk about women. It is as difficult a subject as religion, and their standards are so unlike our own that a remark, harmless in English, may appear as unrestrained to them, as some of their statements would look to us, if translated literally.
Comment: Here Lawrence alludes to the position of women, the mistreatment of women, but as he was not much interested in women, he did not give it emphasis. But surely the reduction of women to breeding chattel is something that most strikes Americans and other Infidels in Iraq (or in any Muslim society). Of what use is this comment? He should have spelled out what he meant by "their standards are so unlike our own" - and he should have set out chapter and verse as to the treatment of, view of, women in Islam. He missed an important chance. And for anyone in the American military, perhaps especially now that women serve as combat soldiers, pilots, medics, as well as in Civil Affairs (to win hearts, win minds), it would have been good to fully prepare them for the mistreatment of Muslim women, so that they might not accept that mistreatment as merely different (Lawrence: "standards so unlike our own"). To avoid discussing the inferior position of women is dangerous and cruel. But of course to do this requires a willingness to tell unpleasant truths, instead of pleasant untruths, about Islam.
26. Be as careful of your servants as of yourself. If you want a sophisticated one you will probably have to take an Egyptian, or a Sudani, and unless you are very lucky he will undo on trek much of the good you so laboriously effect. Arabs will cook rice and make coffee for you, and leave you if required to do unmanly work like cleaning boots or washing. They are only really possible if you are in Arab kit. A slave brought up in the Hejaz is the best servant, but there are rules against British subjects owning them, so they have to be lent to you. In any case, take with you an Ageyli or two when you go up country. They are the most efficient couriers in Arabia, and understand camels.
Comment: Ah, the servant problem. Well, the "servant problem" in Iraq was solved soon enough, in the Green Zone, where the big shots found that the easiest thing to do was to take over the staffs - largely Christian - of maids and chauffeurs and cleaners and cooks and tasters - whom Saddam Hussein had employed. Why did he employ them? Well, because he knew they were not, could never be, a threat - given that Christians in a Muslim society were constantly on edge about their own security. He knew they would not dare to be in a political plot against him, whereas Shi'a Arabs, or Kurds (mostly Sunni), or even Sunni Arabs, from a different group or tribe or family, might well plot and work to eliminate him. Here is where explaining to the troops this appropriation of the same class of servants (drivers, cooks, etc.) from among the Christians might have helped. And some worry over the use, in some places, of Muslims might have been warranted. A friend of mine who served at FOB Danger in Tikrit tells of how he had to watch, with his gun at the ready, even the Kurdish gardeners tending the trees and bushes and grass that Saddam Hussein had had planted round his palace. But the need for such watchfulness came with experience, and was not part of the training received back at Fort Jackson, or Fort Bragg, or Fort Somewhere. But it should have been.
27. The beginning and ending of the secret of handling Arabs is unremitting study of them. Keep always on your guard; never say an unnecessary thing: watch yourself and your companions all the time: hear all that passes, search out what is going on beneath the surface, read their characters, discover their tastes and their weaknesses and keep everything you find out to yourself. Bury yourself in Arab circles, have no interests and no ideas except the work in hand, so that your brain is saturated with one thing only, and you realize your part deeply enough to avoid the little slips that would counteract the painful work of weeks. Your success will be proportioned to the amount of mental effort you devote to it.
Comment: More Polonius. Both obvious, and true. The alpha and omega of "handling Arabs" is the "unremitting study of them." And Lawrence, in the 27th of his 27 apercus (neither brilliant nor, often, particularly useful), offers do's and don'ts that at least contain a warning that suggests how not-to-be-trusted are the Muslim Arabs: "keep always on your guard," "never say an unnecessary thing," "watch yourself and your companions all the time," "hear all that passes," "search out what is going on beneath the surface."
Unremarkable, but apparently the kind of thing that some will need to have spelled out. But what Lawrence does not say is also, or even more, important. What explains this need to be on one's guard? Why must a British officer who is working with the Arabs against the Turks, helping to "liberate" them, and giving them money, supplying them weapons, perhaps giving them logistical support or even rudimentary training, have nonetheless to be constantly on guard? Why must one watch always what one says, what one does, why must one "search out what is going on beneath the surface"? He doesn't explain that Muslim Arab society is one of constant meretriciousness and deception, deception of Infidels, but also deception of fellow Muslims who are of a different group, tribe, family. It is the picture of a world in which homo homini lupus, despite all the talk about the unity of the Umma (a unity that expresses itself in solidarity against Infidels, but not in any other kind of solidarity). The rule is not pleasant, but it is a true one. I have heard, from Christians who grew up in Syria, about the astonishing mistrust of Muslims for one another, of how a Muslim man will not trust even his brother to be alone with his wife. "War is deception," Muhammad famously said, but in Islam, it is not only war, but life itself, quotidian existence, that is full of constantly shifting alliances and perceived interests, and always, shifting sands of deception of every kind.
That can be related to Islam, to the aggression and violence that it instills, so that even if, in the case of the texts, the aggression and violence are directed at non-Muslims. It can be related to the attitudes to which Islam naturally gives rise in its adherents, the atmospherics of Islamic societies, with their ill-concealed hysteria, the voices of daily life raised to a constant feverish pitch. (Sometimes it seems, in an Arab country, even within families, as if everyone is always yelling at the top of his lungs.)
So what does "Twenty-Seven Articles" by Lawrence, written in 1918 when he had less than two years of experience with those Sherifian forces about which he has now become such a self-proclaimed expert (it was just a few years before that he was a low-level assistant working as an archeologist under D. Hogarth at the Ashmolean), really offer? Keep in mind not the myth of Lawrence, but the reality: that the Arab troops of the Sherifian forces were not "100,000" as, at one point, in a display of that "vivid oriental imagination" we used to unembarrassedly hear about, the Sherif Husain claimed to have, but rather well under a thousand troops, and never more than a few hundred in any one operation. They did not conquer Damascus or any major city (unless Aqaba, then a sleepy tiny port, counts). Nor did they conquer Medina, the southern terminus of the Hejaz Railway. Nor did they do much against the Turks that would have ordinarily put the British in their debt. But the British arabophile officials in the Foreign Office would accept the Lawrentian myth, so that they could accuse themselves of having "betrayed the Arabs." And having made that accusation, they tried to "make it up" to the Arabs by being beastly to those "East European Jews" whom they found so demanding, so brash, so unwilling to treat them in the oily manner that the Arabs had perfected. Besides, unlike the Arabs, the Jews did not provide any of that local color that went over so well among the middle-class officials and military men who, in the Near East as in India, liked a good parade, liked natives who acted like natives. There wasn't much of that in Mandatory Palestine, but a few of the rich landed families, the Nashashibis, the Husseinis, the Khalidis, could put on a show - nothing like what India offered, but still...
So even though General Allenby and others on the spot knew that the Sherifian revolt was not of great military value, and even though it was Allenby who caused Lawrence's hasty decampment back to Blighty, the Lawrence myth took off.
Let's sum up what we think we - you and I - have learned from this portentous document that could easily be reduced to three or four paragraphs: Don't mock the Arab chieftain, don't contradict him, make him think your suggestions are his own. Don't be over-familiar with his men; they are his, and consequently your, inferiors. Do wear "Arab kit," but also make clear you are an English officer. Try, if you can, to endure their food, to endure their ways of living; try to fit in, but don't try so hard as to make them think you have forgotten who you are. Be careful on the subjects of religion and women. Realize that religion permeates the lives of the Bedu, to such an extent that they take it as a fact of nature, a given. Be careful discussing women; they have very different attitudes. Be careful with this, be careful with that. Understand that they do not like to take casualties, can easily be discouraged, have no taste for organization at a higher level, prefer small raiding parties, and are most enthusiastic about fighting when there is the promise of booty. Try to win their trust, but realize that even if you do everything you can to win their trust, they will still be untrustworthy themselves, and you must be constantly on your guard.
There's more to summarize, but at this point it's more of the same. You can look above to read Lawrence's original and the "Comment" put after each of the "articles," for yourself.
And you will immediately note the absence of the word "Islam" and, instead, and only a few times, oblique references to it, when the word "religion" is used. Repeatedly one wants to have Lawrence to connect the most important thing in any true Muslim Believer's life - the fact of Islam - to these attitudes. He tells us to be careful about discussing religion, but doesn't spell out exactly why a British officer should be so careful. He tells us that the Arabs have a very different view of women, but doesn't tell us why, what it is in the texts of Islam that might explain that "very different view." He tells us that the Arabs respect pedigree - a connection to the family of the Prophet -- in their rulers more than money or merit, but not why. He lived in the period, thank god, when there was none of that treacly and false stuff about the "three abrahamic religions" or "the three great monotheistic faiths" - these phrases would not have occurred to him, or to anyone in that period. But he still, if unconsciously, is running interference for Islam. He tells the British officers that as "British and Infidels" they will not be liked. But why? Why won't they be liked? Tell us more, tell us exactly why. And is it true that if we follow all the commandments about deportment we will actually become friends with the Arabs, trusted friends? Is that conceivable? Is that possible? Could they, would they, be friendly to us, if not our friends, if we did not ply them with weapons and money? That is, is their "friendship" with Infidels even possible without their getting a quid pro quo, cash on the barrel, and a lot more besides? The answer is no, and it was Lawrence's responsibility to explain why, but he didn't. Perhaps he had been among Muslims, people who are taught not to question authority but to acquire and maintain a habit of mental submission, and he, Lawrence, was influenced by this view, did not feel a need to explain further than he did (which was not much) the nature of the Arab minds and hearts that the British officers who read his text would be expected to have to understand. How is it possible, even today, that the American troops are not given, as part of Basic Training, a real course in Islam, not a fake course, not one limited to the Five Pillars of individual worship, and not one sanitized so much that it might have been produced by the O.I.C., or CAIR?
Mostly what we have here is a pseudo-authoritative collection of the obvious, or here and there the not-so-obvious, by one who was a naïf, for all of his experience, neither the first nor the last Westerner to come to Araby, and to be entranced by the Romance of the Timeless Desert, the Arabs Under A Starry and Infinite Sky, the Leathery-Faced Bedu With His Hawk, and his Hawk-Eyed Piercing Stare, The Kind Of Warrior Who Will Never Let You Down (but don't ever let down your guard with him, not even for second).
Those who went out to Iraq, on repeated tours, and learned the hard way about the Arabs and Muslims, and in learning it, became - inexorably - disenchanted with the task they were assigned, are seldom heard from. Some are still in the military, and not about to cause a stir by denouncing the whole strategy as one of waste and misdirection of resources that fails to take into account the need to divide and demoralize the enemy camp, the Camp of Islam. For no one dares, whose career depends on not offending his bosses in Washington, in the Pentagon or the Executive Branch, to openly tell a few home truths about Islam, and about the pre-existing fissures in Iraq that cannot be healed, and why the attempt to heal them should never have been made. No, they can't do it. But you and I can, and eventually, when what was predicted here would happen in Iraq does happen, we can then, perhaps, obtain a hearing.
Those who were involved in either the formulation of military strategy, or in the execution of such strategy, in Iraq, deserved to be told far more, these last few years, about what Islam inculcates. And how useful are the distinctions Lawrence made to Iraq today? Take, for example, something he mentions early on, his taxonomy of the Arabs that divides them between the urban "Syrians" (impliedly of the north) and the desert Arabs (impliedly closer to the Jazirat al-Arab, the Arabian Peninsula). How useful is this urban-dweller-vs.-desert-tribal-Arab to the situation in Iraq? Well, let's see. Would a Sunni Arab living near Fallujah have more usefully in common with a Shi'a Arab living in similar tribal circumstances, in southern Iraq, or more in common with an urban dweller, a Sunni Arab living in Baghdad? Would a Kurdish tribesman in the north have more in common with a Kurd whose family had lived for generations in Baghdad (there were some), or with a Sunni tribesman, living in a small village in Diyala Province, or Anbar? We know the answer, and we know that the "Syrian-Bedu" distinction is not useful for Iraq. But it retains its usefulness in another way, as a shorthand description of the split between those Arabs of Syria, Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, who think of themselves as the "civilized ones," as compared to the maddeningly rich, but comparatively "primitive," Arabs of the Gulf and the Peninsula. The resentments felt by those in the north lead them to console themselves for their relative poverty compared to the oil-rich "desert Arabs," and also for their backwardness vis-à-vis the Infidel West, by mentally returning to a fabled past of exaggerated glory ("we were the founders of civilization" and other claims of that type) that continues to nourish their imaginations and to protect them from any too-painful recognition of their own dismal reality.
The greatest of Lawrence's lapses is his failure to discuss, and in detail, Islam. There were others, at the time, who did. In the Dutch East Indies, the Dutch government in Batavia was greatly helped by the advice given by the scholar C. Snouck Hurgronje, certainly one of the two or three greatest Western scholars of Islam. Lawrence was not a scholar of Islam, not ever, and he simply picked attitudes up, but one doubts that he ever subjected Islam to systematic study.
In extenuation, consider the period. For Lawrence was not someone who had to worry about the responsibilities of rule. He was there for two heady years of fighting, exciting for him, a mild-mannered archaeologist, and no doubt in those days he still had faith in "the Arabs" - a faith that students of the late Lawrence suggest in his last years he lost. He didn't think too much about Islam, just as someone in ARAMCO, going out to Saudi Arabia in, say, the 1940s, wouldn't have given it much thought because Muslims worldwide were weak, had little money, had not yet been admitted by the millions into the advanced countries of Europe. That is, they had not yet been admitted into what used to be known, and was thought of still by Muslims, as the lands of Western Christendom, the enemy's territory. Western Christendom had not yet yielded, but for some amazing reasons was allowing deep behind its own defensive lines those who, being Muslims, could not possibly wish those countries, as Infidel nation-states that still have not submitted to Islam, well.
Why should an ARAMCO geologist or executive, have been thinking about Islam in 1940, or 1950, or even 1960? And why should T. E. Lawrence have thought about it, when the Arabs themselves were a comical fighting force? His description of them does not depict them as capable of military organization, beyond a few hundred men. Perhaps they were able to harry here and there some Turks, but were not even capable of taking the Turkish garrison, or of cutting off from all re-supplies, in Medina, a garrison that held out until the war was over.
So Lawrence's failure to treat what we now know to be the central fact of Muslim life, Muslim attitudes, Muslim ways of thought, Muslim views of the universe, is understandable.
But what is not understandable is that his "Twenty-Seven Articles" should apparently be held by some even now in such high regard, when Lawrence, in leaving out Islam, left out what makes Muslims, above all in the Arab lands, tick. There ethnic identity and faith are mutually reinforcing, unlike the case among many non-Arab Muslims, such as Kurds or Berbers or Iranians, whose pre-Islamic past helps that identity to dilute, or weaken, or offer an alternative, to the sole identity offered by Islam.
American officers and men who read, or who are given to read by their superiors, "Twenty-Seven Articles," will remain in many important ways unprepared for, and then surprised by, and then deeply disappointed in, their experience in Iraq.
Another article needs to be written, perhaps even called "Twenty-Seven Articles," that could be most useful if given to, digested by, officers and men going off to Iraq, to Afghanistan, to Pakistan, possibly to Yemen or Somalia or, for that matter, in a decade to Paris or London or Rome or Berlin, in the never-ending and never-to-end war of self-defense against the worldwide Jihad that cannot have an end, but can be reduced to manageable proportions. But the Pentagon, and the civilians in our government, are afraid of daring to discuss Islam openly, and afraid even of being caught discussing Islam, qua Islam, surreptitiously. And with so many Muslims allowed to wander the corridors of power, even in the Pentagon, they are right to worry. It is an absurd situation. And it is not only worry about "what the Muslims will think" and the unseemly and unnecessary need to keep being solicitous of Muslim sensibilities that prevents the production, by the government, of such an article.
So why don't you and I produce it here, ourselves? I'll offer, as Part IV of this series on Arabia Petraea, a version, a rough draft, of information about Iraq that might reasonably have been imparted to the departing troops, to make their own lives easier, and their disappoints in the mission less dramatic. And then others -- you, for example -- can in the thread following make suggestions as to additions and emendations. We don't have to worry. We don't have to be inhibited. We're not the White House. We're not the bigshots at the Pentagon. We're free to tell the truth.
Fitzgerald: Arabia Petraea, or General Petraeus' Middle East (Part IV): Twenty-Seven Articles (revised edition)
Those who have read the previous articles that have appeared here under the title "Arabia Petraea, or General Petraeus's Middle East," (Part I here, Part II here, and Part III here), may possibly not be quite so impressed either with T. E. Lawrence, Lawrence of Arabia, nor with his "Twenty-Seven Articles," as they might once have been. That, at least, was part of what I hoped to accomplish - to make people aware that Richard Aldington, Elie Kedourie, J. B. Kelly, and others had shown what a mythomane Lawrence was in exaggerating the claims he put forth for the military significance of the "Arab Revolt."
And I had another goal as well, which was to point out the painful ignorance of some of those hailed as "military intellectuals," whose Guides to Insurgency I find wrong (in suggesting there is anything helpful, or even anything that makes sense, in declaring such things as "in general, insurgencies last X, Y, Z numbers of years"), bloated (often stating portentously, and at great length, what is merely obvious common sense - such things on the level of "find out everything you can about your enemy" or "don't get between a ruler and his men if you want to stay on good terms with either"). The series of pieces was prompted by a recent article by Bertram Wyatt-Brown, one claiming that Lawrence of Arabia had found new admirers among the American military, and that among these admirers are at least two colonels (Nagl, Cane) who are known to have been advisers to General Petraeus, as well as General Petraeus himself. Though General Petraeus has been known to recommend T. E. Lawrence's Seven Pillars of Wisdom, the article focused on a short piece that Lawrence wrote after less than two years of working with the Sherifian forces, that is, the Arabs on horseback and camel who were led by a member of the family that, as direct descendants of the Prophet Muhammad, had traditionally been entrusted to be the guardians of Mecca and Medina. Lawrence's article is in the main a guide to conduct, to Dos and Don'ts In Dealing With the Bedouin. I found the article, though short, still unnecessarily long for what it actually conveyed, and what it actually conveyed was, in the main, obvious, even banal, though here and there something of value was imparted. I suggested that another set of "Twenty-Seven Articles," more useful for those being sent to Iraq, would help prepare members of the American military better for what they would confront, and have to understand if they were to successfully further American national interests.
Since Nature, including human nature, abhors a vacuum, if one argues that original "Twenty-Seven Articles" is not of great moment or great use, then that critic has a duty to suggest a possible replacement.
I have composed that replacement below. It consists partly of advice that could be given at any time, partly of advice based on a reasonable guess as to what would happen in Iraq once the regime of Saddam Hussein fell, and partly on what we know now. I include the conclusions of the third kind because Lawrence, after all, prepared his own "Twenty-Seven Articles" not before he went out to the Middle East, but in mid-1918, after his military role with the Sharifian forces had ended.
This is the vademecum, then, that I offer as a replacement to Lawrence's "Twenty-Seven Articles," based on what was known, or should have been known, about Iraq before the American invasion, and what has become even clearer in the nearly seven years since.
It comes in, just, at the same number.
1. Muslims are history-haunted, in a way that non-Muslims have difficulty grasping. Whatever greatness Islam may lay claim to lies, they sense, in the distant past, though they are unwilling to consider if those tales of past greatness are exaggerated, or what might explain the steady decline after the first few centuries of Muslim conquest. Muslims - not only in Iraq - feed themselves on a steady diet of tales about the greatness of Arab or Islamic civilization, a greatness that if it existed ended almost a millennium ago. We in the West, upon examination, find them full of exaggeration and preposterous claims. Iraqis are not immune to this, and they also lay claim - not all Arabs do - to a pre-Islamic greatness, when they refer to their country as the place "where civilization began." Babylon and Ur become subtly enrolled in an Islamic narrative, despite preceding the arrival of Islam by more than a thousand years.
Thoughts of past greatness serve as a kind of palliative for present-day Iraqis, as for other Muslims. They find it impossible to begin to connect Islam with the causes of their present wretchedness, though a century ago, there were in the Muslim world those who had begun to make the connection, and one leader, Ataturk, who was determined to do something about it, by constraining Islam. Today, without more, that recognition is unlikely to happen in the rich Muslim states, where oil revenues disguise economic failure. And in any case, among the Arabs in Iraq, as outside Iraq, the concept of 'Uruba, or Arabness, is so strong, and so connected to Islam, that the Arab ethnic identity, and Islam, mutually reinforce one another. In Iraq you may find that Islam is least fervent among some of the Sunni elite, including those who supported the Ba'ath Party, and far more, among the non-Arab Kurds.
Mostly, you should note how, by Western standards, how ever-present is Islam, how every conversation is sprinkled with Islamic phrases, or allusions to events in the life of Muhammad. To understand the world of Islamic allusion takes time, and not everything will be said in the presence of Infidels. But you can begin to study the main outlines of Islam, and the main phrases and details of Muhammad's life, so that you can understand the code of Iraqi or Muslim life, the attitudes and atmospherics of everyday existence -- what might be called the Muslim mind, that is, the minds of men who live their lives in societies or communities suffused with Islam.
Do not expect the Iraqis you meet, save for the most remarkable and unrepresentative, to even come close to pondering the connection to what Islam inculcates, and the various kinds of failure (political, economic, social, moral, intellectual) that you will observe if you remain in Iraq long enough and sink beneath the surface. You will, if you remain long enough and observant enough, in Iraq, come to grasp that Iraqis cannot truly accept, much less begin to ponder the real explanation, for that wretchedness (political, economic, social, moral, intellectual), so they have to keep that "glorious past" in mind.
2. Iraq itself is not an ancient state, like Persia or Egypt or Arabia. It was created by the British after the breakup of the Ottoman Empire in the Middle East, following upon the defeat of that empire in World War I by the Allies. It was an artificial state, with three distinct parts, each consisting of a former vilayet - an administrative unit in the Ottoman Empire. These are the vilayets of Mosul, Baghdad, and Basra. The northernmost, Mosul, can be thought of as largely Kurdish, though it contains other, smaller groups, and though Kurdistan is not limited to northern Iraq, and there are millions of Kurds who live as well in eastern Turkey, in Syria, and in Iran. The second of the three vilayets is that of Baghdad, the most important city (and the area surrounding it), in Iraq, which when Iraq was formed dominated that city and the surrounding areas, including most importantly, to the north and west, Anbar and Diyala provinces. The third vilayet, Basra, was centered on the city of that name, and the southern regions that include the oil of Iraq that is not to be found in Kurdistan.
3. The oil of Iraq is to be found only in the north and in the south, that is, in the former vilayets of Mosul and of Basra. The places where Sunnis predominate, in the vast western desert of Iraq, in Anbar Province, and in Diyala Province that extends from just north of Baghdad to Kurdistsan, does not appear to have any oil. Since oil is the only resource of consequence in Iraq, and since as in other Muslim oil states there is little human capital to count on, the Sunnis managed, during their long rule, to consistently divert much of Iraq's revenues to themselves, to the rulers and their families and their tribes and to the Sunni regions. The Shi'a were so impoverished that, physically, many had their growth stunted. The memory of how revenues were monopolized by the Sunnis has not been forgotten.
4. The most important fissure in Iraq, one that goes back to the earliest centuries of Islam - and did not appear because the "American invader" arrived - is that between Sunni and Shi'a Arabs. Shi'a make up only 10-15% of the world's Muslims. However, they constitute more than 90% of the population of Iran, and more than 60% of the population of Iraq, and about 80% of Iraq's Arab population. In a democratic system, the Sunni Arabs would have very little power, unless they were able to present themselves no longer as solely defenders of the Sunnis, but as - a tall order - non-denominational Iraqi nationalists. There are Shi'a Arabs who are secular and do not approve of the all-Shi'a lists, and it is these Shi'a to whom, perhaps, such Sunnis might appeal. Keep in mind, in Iraq, that the Sunni Arabs are not apologetic about their previous behavior; they believe they have a right to rule, to lord it over the Shi'a, and they are aware that there are powerful Sunni states around them, prepared possibly to offer financial aid, military aid, and volunteers should the Shi'a of Iraq try to monopolize power. Furthermore, the Sunni Arabs do not recognize their own numbers, but - and this is a feature of Muslim peoples - tend to believe their own self-serving myths, and among those myths is that they constitute not 20% but more than twice that percentage of the Iraqi population.
5. Naturally the Shi'a Arabs, having suffered under Sunni rule for so many decades -- and never was that rule more cruel than under Saddam Hussein, with hundreds of thousands of Shi'a murdered, and the Shi'a regions cut off from government-funded development -- are determined never again to allow the Sunnis to dominate them. You should be aware of this attitude. You may find yourself torn, depending on where you are stationed. You might, seeing Iraq after the removal of the regime, not quite grasp the nature of the previous regime. You may not understand why it was that those who urged the American government to topple Saddam Hussein, and who predicted that Iraqis would welcome the Americans as "liberators," were almost to a man Shi'a Iraqis in exile. They knew there was only one way to get rid of Saddam Hussein, and that was through the armed might of the Americans. They had their own plans, their own visions, for what was to come, and they still do.
6. The Sunni Arabs, on the other hand, even those who had suffered under Saddam Hussein, were keenly aware that they might lose power, and so have always been less enthusiastic about the removal of the Ba'athist regime. You should not be surprised at this. Saddam Hussein may have been a monster, but he was their monster, and the Sunni Arabs, while they hardly flourished, did receive obviously preferential treatment compared to other groups in Iraq.
7. You will hear the word Ba'athist quite often when you get to Iraq, and also about the need to "de-Baathify" the country. The word "Ba'ath" or "Ba'athist" requires some discussion. In the first place, there is something called the Ba'ath political movement, which is not limited to Iraq. This owes its origins to the desire of several Syrians, the most important of whom was a Christian, Michel Aflaq, and the second most important of whom was a Shi'a Muslim, to find a political role for themselves back in the 1940s. They were, thus, marginalized figures in a country, Syria, largely populated by Sunni Arabs, though there were considerable numbers of Christians, not inconsequential economically. There were the Alawites, too, who as Muslims would be assigned to the Shi'a sect, and who had power owing to their role in the military. In a world largely dominated by Sunni Arabs, they tried to find a way for themselves and those like them to have a place in the political world. This could be done, they felt, in a "secular" group - that is, non-mosque-based, and theoretically open to both main sects of Muslims, Sunni and Shi'a, and also to non-Arabs, such as Kurds and Turcomans, and even to non-Muslims, such as Assyrians, Chaldeans, Greek Orthodox, Maronites.
8. Ba'athism became the official political ideology of the ruling class in both Iraq and Syria. But in both countries, the Ba'athist regimes shared some characteristics: a strong local despot, an omnipresent Party, and official obeisance to the ideal of pan-Arabism. But in each country Ba'athism was really accepted because it was a façade for something else. In Syria, that something else was rule by the Alawites, a sect not regarded by the majority Sunnis as truly part of Islam, chiefly for its syncretistic features (a cult of Mary, for example). Since the Alawites constitute only 12% of the population of Syria (but have a near-monopoly on the upper officer corps of the Syrian military), they needed to disguise their sect's rule by claiming that not Alawites, but Ba'athists rule, and to officially pretend that non-Alawites could not only be in the Party, but rise high in it.
9. In Iraq, however, rule by the Ba'athists camouflages a Sunni Arab despotism, useful in a country where Sunni Arabs make up less than 20% of the population. Shi'a Arabs, Kurds, even some Christians have been allowed to join the Ba'ath Party. Iyad Allawi, for example, a Shi'a Arab now trying to create a "secular" alternative to the Shiite Alliance, was once a member of the Ba'aath Party. Some Kurds have been members, though at low levels. And even some Christians have joined the Ba'ath Party; Tariq Aziz, Saddam Hussein's foreign minister, was known to be a Christian (despite his Islamic-sounding name) and was useful based on the idea of pan-Arabism (which to them meant not a subset of, but an alternative to, the pan-Islamic impulse).
10. Why does this matter? Because Americans are in Iraq, have been in Iraq for nearly seven years, not only to topple Saddam Hussein, but to see if they can somehow bring a modicum of democracy, or at least to help get people thinking in terms of elections and representative government, rather than of how to plot or profit from the next military coup. Iraq now has the oil reserves to be as rich as Saudi Arabia, with a population that, to the extent that it is more secular, is also more likely to be able to do without an army of submissive foreign wage-slaves. But the prospect of these great riches does not, it seems, lead to a concentration on national unity, but merely increases the jockeying for power, as the future riches to be grabbed loom ever larger.
11. Western democracy is not merely a matter of elections. It is based on a theory, and that theory, coming out of the social contract theorists (Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau) of Western political theory, posits a state of nature in which men, in order to be more secure in their lives and their property, entrust the government with a monopoly of violence, as most likely to ensure the safety of individuals. They also entrust government with other tasks too, as long as it represents the will of the people, not as divined, but as expressed through elections. In other words, the political legitimacy of any government comes from that will expressed by the people. In Islam, the individual does not matter. He is ideally a "slave of Allah," one who has acquired the habit of mental submission, who merely asks what is the rule and never questions the rule, as transmitted by Allah to Muhammad, his Messenger. In Islam, submission to authority is demanded, if that authority is a Muslim faithful to the dictates of Islam. Those who are not Muslim may be allowed, under certain conditions of humiliation and degradation, to live and even to practice their own faiths if those faiths are those of the People of the Book (ahl al-kitab), that is, Christians and Jews, or if, for practical reasons, Muslims have deemed it to make sense to treat in a like manner those who are not either Christians or Jews - Zoroastrians, Hindus - but who, if kept alive, are more likely to be of benefit to Muslims than if either put to death or forcibly converted en masse.
12. You, as officers and men of the American military, are entitled of course, while in Iraq, not to simply turn off thought, but to make sense of your own experiences. And it may well be that you will find, as you deal with the local Muslims, that the mission which is yours to fulfill does not correspond to the reality you experience. You may find, for example, that it is unlikely that "democracy" in the Western sense can exist if the peoples of Iraq regard themselves not as individual citizens, but as members of sects or groups that must vote as a bloc, as their leaders - such as Ayatolah Al-Sistnai in the case of the Shi'a - tell them. You will also become aware that the locals do not think in terms of political compromise, but in terms of victors and vanquished, and they dream and they scheme to be the victors in any future polity, not through appeals to morality, nor to the ballot, but only through possession of superior force which they can use against their rivals for power.
13. If you allow yourselves to think, then you may find, while in Iraq, that the plans to encourage national unity in and to bring "democracy" (or "freedom" as it is sometimes misleadingly called) to Iraq no longer make sense to you. Indeed, there is reason to think that the high suicide rate of our soldiers, which has been a source of anxiety, may have something to do with loss of faith in the mission itself, and may not always reflect only personal problems with family members at home. If you do not admit to your men that you share their doubts, when you do, but keep insisting on the rightness of a mission that you yourself have decided makes little sense, you may encourage their demoralization. You are required to try to fulfill a mission but you are also permitted to doubt that mission, and to say so. That is not usual in war. But this is not a usual war.
14. You may begin to wonder about the relationship of the outcome in Iraq to the wider war being waged around the world against non-Muslims by Muslims, both in Muslim-dominated lands and even in the Western world. You may not be able to help yourself from wondering what is the real significance of the outcome in Iraq to, say, the Muslim threat in France, or Great Britain, or the Netherlands. This is most likely to happen if you keep abreast of matters on the Internet; for obvious reasons, army information services in Iraq will not be paying any attention to Muslim threats in Western Europe, not least because that kind of talk will offend Iraqis whose goodwill, we are told, we must win. But you are not to be prevented from thinking about Iraq as one theatre of war, and Afghanistan as another, and to try to make sense of their relative importance, and the cost to our forces of the effort. You should never stop thinking about the larger picture, for some of you are likely to return as officers to Washington, and your intelligent assessment of things is valuable even to those, or especially to those, who have formulated policies without consideration of the nature and extent of the threat to the Western world from the ideology of Islam.
15. You might wonder as to what it is that explains the unwillingness of all but a handful of Muslims in Iraq to exhibit the spirit of political compromise. In order to fully understand, you must begin to study, to read and then re-read, and then re-read with adequate guides and commentaries to its sometimes obscure meaning, the Qur'an, and with it, the Hadith - the written records of the words and acts of Muhammad - and the Sira, the biography of Muhammad, as Muslims understand and accept it. Without a knowledge of these, you will not understand Muslim attitudes toward you. You will take at face value expressions of undying friendship and loyalty, and will be dangerously unprepared for the meretriciousness and betrayals you will undoubtedly experience, in ways little and big, throughout your time in Iraq or, later, in Afghanistan. This sense of betrayal need not dishearten you. You should soberly accept the fact of what Islam inculcates, what it causes Muslims to think about Infidels.
16. There will be exceptions. There will be, among the military men and the civilians you meet, some who will strike you as fine fellows, for whom you will express fellow feeling. In many cases, your faith will be misplaced. But you may find among those fighting with you against Al Qaeda, or the Taliban, or engaged in "reconstruction" work, some who seem to you to be genuinely friendly and to be trusted. Resist the temptation to find out. There are indeed such people, but their numbers are so small, and they themselves might, for various reasons, change their attitudes - or be pressured to do so - toward the Infidels. But that it is not worth risking your life, or the lives of your men, on your faith in a Muslim version of Gunga Din. Be always on guard.
17. Naturally you will be interested in the position of the Christians in Iraq. During the first few years of the American presence in Iraq, the same Iraqi Christians who had served Saddam Hussein, as his tasters, his cooks, his chauffeurs, his household staff, simply transferred their allegiances to the Americans whom, they knew, would not distrust nor damage them. But there is a bitterness among the Christians at what they see as the naivete of American policy, in allowing those whom they call "the Turbans" (that is, the Shi'a Muslims, who for the Christians have turned out to be more dangerous than the Sunni Arabs were under Saddam Hussein's iron rule) to take power in Iraq. There is no doubt that the removal of Saddam Hussein has caused anxiety, and worse, for the Christians in Iraq. This too may surprise you. We think of Saddam Hussein as a political monster. He was. But he also was a brake on those Muslims who, now "liberated" from him, are dealing with Iraq's Christians unmercifully, driving them out, killing many, showing that Iraq is of, by, and for Muslims. At least half of the Assyrians and the Chaldeans have left Iraq already. This is a direct result of the American invasion, one seldom discussed in public. And this outflow of Christians has had another consequence. Though they constituted only 4-5% of the Iraqi population, they also constituted about one-third of the professional class, of doctors, engineers, and university teachers, and their loss cannot easily be made up. Those who have left will not be returning, and why should they?
18. Perhaps it is time for you to be reminded, or if you did not know before to inform you, that the Iraqis in exile who helped to persuade the American government to invade Iraq were almost entirely Shi'a Arabs. This was overlooked by many, but it turns out to be important. For they had their own interests, and their main interest was in persuading the American government to do what the Shi'a Arabs in Iraq could never have done themselves: remove Saddam Hussein, his sons, and the rest of his collaborators, from power, by killing or capturing them, so that the regime could never be restored. Not all of these people were deliberately bent on misleading the American government about what they wanted - a transfer of power to the Shi'a (and in some cases, as with Ahmad Chalabi, ideally a transfer of power to them, as individuals), and a permanent marginalizing of the Sunni Arabs. Nor were they necessarily deliberately deluding the Americans when they promised a delirious reception for them, as liberators, in Iraq. Even someone normally as sober as Professor Bernard Lewis predicted, seduced by the predictions of Chalabi among others, that the welcome the American soldiers would receive would "make Kabul seem like a funeral procession" (when the Americans drove out the Taliban, there was celebration on the streets of Kabul).
It is possible that some of the Shi'a in exile believed that the people in Iraq would welcome the Americans, that is, beyond the first few days in which any powerful conqueror is courted, even if that conqueror is an Infidel. It is possible that they believed the overturning of the old Sunni (Ba'athist) order could lead to smooth transition, though there is nothing to indicate that in the history of Iraqi coups and counter-coups, in the sheer violence of the country that characterizes not only the years of Saddam Hussein, but the years of Qassem and the years of Nuri es-Said during the 1950s and 1940s, and the coup of Rashid Ali in 1941, and before that, the mass murder of the Assyrians in 1933, and before that the uprising of the Shi'a who did not want to accept rule by Sunnis. This history of violence was ignored by our government, but when you get to Iraq you will soon realize that history is not mocked, and it is extremely unlikely that any lions will by lying down with any lambs, especially since only the helpless Christians and Mandeans and Yazidis and Shabaks, tiny non-Muslim minorities all, are the lambs, and all the Muslim groups are lions.
19. Be wary, in Iraq, even of the most outwardly westernized, sophisticated, and outwardly friendly of Iraqis who are Muslims. You will meet such people, who will of course try to meet you, and win you to employing American power against their internal enemies. The Arabs will do it against the Kurds, the Kurds against the Arabs, the Sunni Arabs against the Shi'a, the Shi'a Arabs against the Sunni Arabs. Each will want you to take their side and to be deeply suspicious of the intentions of all the others. And to make matters still more confused, you will find, as you train Iraqis, or even fight beside and not against them, that as you see the wretched conditions of the lives of so many, you may become as Americans sometimes do, sentimental about the perception of foreign poverty. And without asking yourself how, in a country with vast oil revenues and reserves, there is such poverty, you may become sympathetic -- when sympathy can lead to dangerous misjudgment. And when you find yourselves, as you well may, fighting for a time against a common enemy, such as Al Qaeda in Iraq, it is possible that the handful of Iraqis you can trust will stay in your minds, and the many you can never trust be overlooked, for there is a danger which might be called the Gunga-Din danger, of seeing as a true-blue friend (as was Kipling's fictional hero) someone who is a temporary ally and who, in any case, is the exception and never the rule. Be on your guard at all times. Trust no one who considers you to be, whatever else you are, an Infidel.
20. The Kurds need special mention. Ever since 1991 they lived, and began to thrive, under American air cover. That is, Saddam Hussein knew that if he sent his planes or helicopters to Kurdistan, the Americans would shoot them down. He prudently refrained. The Kurds had a dozen years, then, to practice a kind of autonomy that is not independence, but close to it, and they do not intend to ever again submit to rule by Arabs. Make sure you understand that the Kurds are not Arabs, that the Kurds in northern Iraq are part of a people who, in the Middle East, are 20 million strong, and who were promised, by the Great Powers who defeated the Ottomans, an independent Kurdistan --which, in the 1920s, by the Treaty of Sieyes, became a promise forgotten. But the desire of Kurds, who live not only in Iraq but in eastern Turkey, in Syria, and in Iran (both just across the border in Iran, and in scattered communities in eastern and northern Iran as well), remains. American troops will discover that they have the least problem with Kurds, who will be far more friendly to the Americans than any Arabs, and it is likely that some of you will even take your R-and-R at a lake in northern Iraq, deep in the Kurdish country. We understand that the Kurds are not only grateful for our past efforts, but recognize that their main protector, of their present and future interests, the sole possible means for them to attain independence rather than have to content themselves with autonomy within Iraq, is through military and diplomatic support given, for its own good reasons, by the American government.
21. The Kurds will be seen as pro-American, and that is relative. There are a handful of Kurds, who wish, on the other hand, to see their identity solely in terms of Islam. These are the kind of Kurds who join the group Sunna al-Islam, formed by one Mullah Krekar, now in exile in Norway, though there are attempts to deport him. Even among non-Arab Muslims, that is, who tend to be less fanatic adherents of Islam, there will always be those locals who wish to demonstrate they can be as fiercely Muslim as the Arabs, and that phenomenon can be observed in Kurdistan, even if most Kurds, because of their mistreatment by the Arabs, have begun to regard their Kurdish identity as working against sole loyalty to Islam. (Much the same phenomenon, of a local identity playing against Islam while some sharing that identity become ever more fanatically Muslim, can be observed among the Baluchis in Pakistan).
You will arrive in Iraq naturally assuming that the people who suffered the most from Saddam Hussein will naturally be deeply grateful. That may be true, to some extent, with the Kurds, but it is not true with the Shi'a Arabs. The explanation for this has something to do with the hold of Islam on Arabs and its lesser hold (save among the Pakistanis) on non-Arab Muslims, who have another identity to appeal or repair to, an identity that may be connected to a formidable pre-Islamic past.
You have to remain wary at all times, but within that general rule, there are degrees of wariness. The Kurds in Kurdistan may not be as likely to require the kind of vigilance as you will find necessary when dealing with, hiring, cajoling, training, even fighting alongside, Arabs in the rest of Iraq. Though many Kurds are Sunnis, this is not of great importance; many of the Arabs who were moved into Kurdish areas by Saddam Hussein to permanently arabize them were Sunni as well as Shi'a Arabs, and the Kurdish hostility toward them is not one whit lessened by a sharing of the same version of Islam.
Always make your own judgments of the locals. Do not accept, even from those who seem to inhabit, or offer the illusion of inhabiting the same moral and intellectual universe as Western man, their judgment of their own situation or of that Iraq. The most advanced Iraqis, those to whom one would wish well, have been known - like "reformers" in other nearby Muslim countries -- to misjudge their own strength, their own appeal, and to consistently underestimate what the primitive masses desire, or what they can be made to desire.
22. The Iraqi exiles, who played such an important role in the decision to invade Iraq, were people who are good examples of those who, outwardly westernized, sophisticated, secular, did not understand, or in some cases willfully refused to understand, their own country. Many had been out of Iraq for so long, had lived in London or Washington or other Western capitals, with other exiles like themselves, that they simply forgot what a country soaked in Islam is like. Ahmad Chalabi, for example, had left Iraq in 1958, when he was fourteen, and spent forty-five years outside Iraq, mostly in the West. Kanan Makiya, the architect who became an acute analyst and ferocious critic of Saddam Hussein, had been out of Iraq for more than a decade, and was used to a society of the most advanced Arabs. While Chalabi all along appears to have been playing his own game - he is now seen as supporting the Shi'ite Alliance, and to have some involvement with Iran - Kanan Makiya was much more of an idealist. Yet he confesses that he, too, is puzzled by what happened in Iraq. He did not expect what did happen; he did not expect the Sunnis to refuse to acquiesce, apparently, or the Shi'a to insist on retaining the power they have now, at long last, acquired. In other words, he - Kanan Makiya - forgot about Islam, and what it does to prevent the spirit of political compromise. In the same way, we might note that while he wrote about the Arab silence concerning the mass murder of Kurds, he offers a note of puzzlement about the silence of those he calls "Arab intellectuals." But that puzzlement is itself of note, for we, who are not Muslim, nor Arab, have no difficulty in grasping that Islam itself has always been a vehicle for Arab supremacism, and the Arabs have treated not only the Kurds, but the Berbers in North Africa, and the black African Muslims of Darfur, with the same contumely if not always with the same murderous hostility. (However, the acts of the Arab Janjaweed in Darfur may remind one of the Arab behavior -- see Chemical Ali -- in Kurdistan when, under Saddam Hussein, they could get away such things.) Perhaps Kanan Makiya is still puzzled, or perhaps, with his sinecure - classifying and studying documents taken from Iraq - he will have time to arrive at an understanding of his own reality, and that of Arab supremacism within Islam.
23. You need to keep in mind the example of Ahmad Chalabi, in order to disabuse yourself of trusting any Iraqi, no matter how charming or seductive he might be. Chalabi was the most influential of the Iraqi exiles, a mathematician who had received his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, who knew exactly whom to flatter and whom to woo in other ways. He made the rounds of official Washington. He made noises about being friendly to Israel. He even went to pay his respects to Bernard Lewis, in Princeton, to calculatingly admire Lewis's library and Middle Eastern artifacts as a way to win his heart and mind - for he knew that Lewis was important to win over. But Chalabi himself has turned out to be quite different from what his many admirers expected. What counts for him, however, is that his efforts were a complete and glorious success. He was very important in persuading the Americans to get rid of Saddam Hussein, and to forget that Saddam Hussein, though monstrously cruel, was also a ferocious enemy of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and at the moment, it is the Islamic Republic of Iran that constitutes the main threat to Infidels in the Islamic world. It is entirely possible that if Saddam Hussein, for example, had remained in power, he might have allowed the Americans to overfly Iraq in order to destroy Iran's nuclear project. He might even have participated by engaging in diversionary attacks on the ground. No one likes now to consider that possibility lost, because no one likes to think that it would have been appropriate to allow the collaboration of Saddam Hussein. You will remember, however, that during World War II the Americans and British were happy to allow the collaboration of, the indispensable participation of, the Red Army and of Joseph Stalin, in order to deal with Hitler and the Nazis.
This matter is raised because in Iraq you should be thinking of the immediate task, the one where you try to further the goals laid down in Washington by those who may not know the country as well as you will come to know it, and who are thus mistaken about the consequent sense (or absence of sense) of those goals. You should also be thinking of how this theater of war, Iraq, fits into a larger picture. It would be a poor officer who did not think of what the effect of Iraq is on the American military, on its need to husband resources for a war that, if properly understood, will be seen not as a "long war" but as a war without end, requiring that men, money, materiel, and morale not be squandered. You, as members of the military, should not have been expected to have known what was to come to Iraq, but you have a right to wonder about the quality of the understanding of civilian leaders, and to be determined to use the conclusions you draw from your own experience to put you in a position, once you are reassigned or return to this country, to help make sense of the Iraq mission, and to educate those who appear to make military policy on the basis of an imperfect grasp of the ideology of Islam, and of what can happen to adherents of that ideology, when they take it most to heart.
24. You are, for example, now entitled to make pronouncements on the likely success of the stated goals of American policy - to create a prosperous and unified Iraq - and if that success is unlikely, what goals, in Iraq, and outside of Iraq, make the best sense, given the need to husband and not squander resources. You are entitled to discuss Islam without inhibition and apology, and without constantly looking over your shoulder to make sure you have not offended Muslims or those who claim that such discussion will harm our efforts to "win hearts and minds" in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, elsewhere. You are entitled to adduce the evidence of the American effort, over seven years, to win hearts and minds in Iraq, a place rescued from a monstrous regime that gave no signs of letting go or letting up, where even those victimized do not exactly display heartfelt and permanent gratitude.
25. You are also entitled to draw conclusions about what you observe of the fissures in Iraq that we are told are always just about to heal, but that never seem to heal. These include the split between Arabs and non-Arab Kurds, a split that does not appear to be ending, and the split between Sunni and Shi'a Arabs, that should not surprise, but for some reason keeps surprising, and is likely to be reflected in low-level hostilities that will not be tamped down. And those low-level hostilities might, in certain circumstances, lead to co-religionists in the countries adjacent to send in money, materiel, and volunteers to make sure that either the Sunnis, or the Shi'a, prevail. If you only serve in Iraq, and draw no conclusions, do not allow yourself to endow your experience with meaning and shape, then much of the valuable experience you have gained will not be taken advantage of, not put to good use in the formulation of future policies.
26. No doubt you will find it strange to be encouraged to take a view broader than that which Iraq itself offers. But if you are unaware of what is going on in the countries of Western Europe, and especially in those that are our partners in the military alliance called NATO, then you may not be able to place Iraq properly in a grander scheme of things - nor Afghanistan, or Pakistan, either. If the American effort to keep Iraq whole and prosperous succeeds, you may take a certain satisfaction in having helped to make the attainment of those goals possible, but you may also wish to question the durability of that outcome, and whether or not, from our point of view, that is the outcome most to be desired.
27. Remember that when T. E. Lawrence was offering his twenty-seven articles on how to deal with the Bedouin tribesmen and their leaders, he said almost nothing about Islam. For Lawrence, there was no worry about the forces of Islam managing to threaten the stability and security of the Western world. That would have seemed to him to have been an impossibility, too ridiculous to consider. So he could afford, and others, those who made much of him and participated in the cult of Lawrence, the myth of Lawrence, could also afford to engage in romanticizing the desert Arab on his camel or horse. Today that kind of thing is not permissible. The threat from Islam is real, and not comical. The instruments of Jihad are various and effective - not only terrorism, as a version, so the Muslims see it, of qitaal or combat justified by Western technological superiority, but also the deployment of the Money Weapon, campaigns of Da'wa to create and enlarge a Fifth Column within the Infidel lands, and demographic conquest, that proceeds with such obvious and frightening consequences.
In the middle of World War II, throughout the United States, many rallies were held under the title "Why We Fight." We have to remember what it is that now presses upon us, that caused us to begin to fight, uncertainly, confusedly, without connecting the dots but focusing only on a small but sensational aspect of that many-faceted war: that is, Terrorism. We need not endure much longer that unhelpful phrase "the War Against Terrorism." The war is one of self-defense, and it is the consequence of an ideology, taken deeply to heart, in ways many still cannot understand, that divides the world uncompromisingly between Believer and Unbeliever, Muslim and Infidel, and inculcates the notion of a state of permanent war (though not necessarily of open warfare) between the two until such time as everywhere in the world, and not in this or that sliver of land alone, all obstacles to the spread and then the dominance of Islam are removed. This means depriving the non-Muslims of their own sense of themselves, of their own legal and political institutions insofar as these may indeed be considered "obstacles" to the spread and dominance of Islam.
It should not be hard to understand this, but many are determined to make it hard. They understood, or their leaders once understood, in a different time, that the Nazis, and the Japanese militarists, possessed an ideology that prompted their acts that went far beyond traditional Great Power rivalries. And that totalitarian ideology, too, characterized our enemies in the Cold War - the Soviet Union, and its satellites held in thrall. But when it comes to Islam, we willingly allow ourselves to ignore the very great differences between the faith of Islam and other faiths that, out of habit, have come to share the title "religion." It may surprise some to discover that that word was not applied to Islam quite so readily by writers in Western Christendom before the last century.
The ideologies of the Nazis and the Japanese militarists were not open to all. If you were not German or not Japanese, it would be an effort to find appealing doctrines that did not include you as part of the favored group, though there were, for other reasons -- fear, the desire for helping themselves to the property of those who were persecuted and murdered, sympathy for the fascist boot - those who willingly collaborated.
Unless those who fought in Iraq and those who ordered them to fight in Iraq and now order many of the same soldiers and Marines to fight in Afghanistan are wiling to see beyond the immediate tasks they are assigned, and to begin to study the ideology of Islam, and understand and share with the civilians who give them orders that understanding of that ideology, we will continue to squander men, money, materiel, to damage morale both civilian and military, and keep our attention manically on matters that prevent us from seeing a larger picture. That larger picture must include, should have at its very center, the fate of Western Europe, and the instruments of Jihad - the Money Weapon, campaigns of Da'wa, demographic conquest - that will have much more effect on the wellbeing of Americans than anything that does or does not emerge as a future polity in Iraq or Afghanistan.
The experience of fighting in, of being in, Iraq, ought to have taught some lessons. Not "how to fight an insurgency" - with money and weaponry, you can buy temporary alliances all over the place, especially if you are only asking the group in question to fight what its members already consider to be their enemies - but how to husband resources. That involves the questions of how to exploit pre-existing fissures within the enemy camp (the Camp of Islam), how to keep focused on the most important matters (preventing any further acquisition of WMD by Muslim states or groupuscules; halting any further increase in the Muslim presence in Europe as the historic heart of the West) and how to re-dimension, back to manageable size, the threat from Islam. Then attention can be turned to other threats, whether from other countries (an aggressive China that does not appear to be acting according to the complacent Western script, where greater prosperity is supposed to bring with it a lessening of outward aggression) or from other quarters originating in actions by men, and not to be solved but which are at least susceptible of amelioration if attention is not manically focused on this wasteful, because ignorantly and timidly conducted, "war on terrorism." If you leave Iraq having learned nothing that would be of value in the future formulation of policies by our government, in the war of self-defense that has been thrust upon it, and even now being conducted confusedly, tentatively, uncunningly, without any hint of what might be called a grand strategy, that would be a pity, and much more than a pity.
'What about burning poppies?': Court outburst of man jailed for setting Koran alight
A man has been jailed for 70 days today after he burnt a copy of the Koran just over a month after a Muslim got away with a paltry £50 fine for a similar offence. Andrew Ryan, 32, stole a copy of the holy book from Carlisle Library then set it on fire by a monument in the city of Carlisle.
Last month Emdadur Choudhury was fined after he burned a poppy outside the Royal Albert Hall in London on Remembrance Day while shouting 'British soldiers burn in hell'.
As he was led down to the cells, Ryan shouted at the judge at Carlisle Magistrates' Court today: 'What about burning poppies?'.
Police arrested Ryan shortly the Koran burning in English Street on January 19.
Sentencing him at Carlisle Magistrates' Court, District Judge Gerald Chalk said: 'This is a case of theatrical bigotry. It was pre-planned by you as you stole the book deliberately. You went out to cause maximum publicity and to cause distress.' He told Ryan that people were entitled to protest but not in the manner he chose.
Ryan pleaded guilty to religiously aggravated harassment and theft at an earlier hearing.
Unemployed Ryan was also sentenced to 30 days in jail for the theft of the book, to run concurrently. Following sentencing, Inspector Paul Marshall, of Carlisle CID, said: 'Today's result shows how seriously we take hate crime in the county. This incident was highly unusual for Cumbria as we have such low levels of hate crime in the county. However, when it does occur we investigate thoroughly so that offenders, and the local community, know that hate crime will simply not be tolerated.'
He should have paid out for his own copy but nobody gets 30 days imprisonment for stealing a library book. All I got was a letter telling me I could never borrow another book from Dagenham library until I gave it back. I had moved house and had lost the book in the move. The council sold the library to the Jehovah’s Witnesses shortly after that. Even with his antecedents this is a definite case of one law for one and one for another.The poppy burning was a mass planned act calculated to offend; this sounds like it was done in the heat of the moment. Most people say the Koran should not be burned; it should be read, then the reader can truly understand why it is so abhorrent