Lawrence of Afghanistan
Here is an extract from the article.
With the help of Hollywood, he would become a legend, Lawrence of Arabia, but today he might more aptly be termed Lawrence of Afghanistan: he understood more clearly than any of his contemporaries (and many of our own) the futility of trying to bomb an insurgency into peace; he put into action the tactics of modern guerrilla warfare; and he pioneered the improvised explosive device (IED), the most important weapon of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In Britain Lawrence is revered as a figure of romance, the camel-mounted scholar-warrior in flowing robes, but his reputation comes tinged with a distinctly British embarrassment. Lawrence was stupendously strange: a diminutive, ruthless, obsessive, sexually repressed oddity, who spent his life striving for attention, and then rejected it.
What is too often forgotten in the mythologising (and debunking) of Lawrence is his enduring legacy as a military strategist of genius and cold-eyed guerrilla leader.
I like one particular statement.
Lawrence believed that “winning hearts and minds” (a term that would have made him snort) could only be achieved by education or cash, and never by coercion. “The printing press is the greatest weapon in the armoury of the modern commander,” he wrote. The Arab rebellion was fought with new British tactics, and bought with new British gold.
The trouble is the Americans used to think that the only good Indian was a dead one and their thinking hasn’t changed much to reflect the modern age.
Every politician and military man, from the highest general to the lowest private, should read Ben MacIntyre’s article and then be tested on it.
My father was a printer and one of the most interesting things I saw in Belarus was this battlefield printing press from the Second World War.
The Russians and Belarussians obviously know their T. E. Lawrence and it served them well, when they turned the Nazis in 1941.
I share two things with Lawrence;stature and birthday.