Friday, October 21, 2005

What if a Nation's Leaders Listened to Its soldiers?

If you are a student of history, you understand that a major factor in much of the conflict in the Middle East during the past few decades is due to a redrawing of the borders of the former Ottoman Empire upon its breakup after WWI by the British. In fact, the fiasco the United States has attempted to solve (and, in fact, recreated) is due to poor country making almost 90 years ago by another set of leaders with little understanding of the world they had invaded.
Interestingly, T.E. Lawrence, the great British colonel and subject of the film Lawrence of Arabia, had a much better plan for redrawing the borders of Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the rest of those nations based upon tribal and ethnic sensibilities, instead of British trade routes. Click here for a look at some info from NPR, along with Lawrence's proposed map of the area.
Isn't it fascinating that one decision so long ago could have such great repercussions today. Isn't it also fascinating that by listening to the ideas of one man who knew the situation from the ground and cared deeply for the people affected would have had such different consequences. There should be a lesson for today's leaders to listen to the past, read history and listen to those affected by our policy decisions. Even by simply listening to the commanders on the ground in Iraq, we could have a completely different situation. Instead the White House and Pentagon, led by people with no understanding of military matters choose to make decisions based upon political ideology while ignoring their soldiers, generals, the Iraqi people and history's great lessons.

Thank the Lord many of the military leaders in the Middle East are better students of history, reading the history of the area and taking seriously the writings of T.E. Lawrence.

The classic Lawrence quote, hanging on the wall of an American General, but ignored by his Washington commanders;

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.

'Twenty-Seven Articles', Arab Bulletin, 20 August 1917 For the full text (including much other quotable material) see

1 comment:

ER said...

Great post!!! Thanks for the info and insights.