This R4 programme is unfortunately not available to listen to anymore…
Lawrence of Arabia: The Man and the Myth …but this was one of the BBC’s ‘Trojan Horses’…a programme masquerading as one thing whilst actually being a ‘vehicle’ for something else entirely.
Clearly from the title you get an idea of what to expect…but you’d be wrong……far from being a history of Lawrence of Arabia it was another of the BBC’s warnings, or lessons, from History about the dangers of Imperialism, Colonialism and War…..and in particular the illegitimacy and injustice of the creation of Israel.
As the BBC said… ‘It shines a sharp light on the pre-occupations of our own times…..his (Lawrence’s) post-Imperial vision might have shaped a rather different Middle East today.’
Well that’s pretty much nonsense…as Lawrence was fairly pleased with the post war arrangements….
‘The settlement which Winston (mainly because my advocacy supplied him with all the technical advice and arguments necessary) put through in 1921 and 1922 was, I think, the best possible settlement which Great Britain, alone, could achieve at the time.’
‘As I get further and further away from things the more completely do I feel that our efforts during the war have justified themselves and are proving happier and better than I’d ever hoped.’
Neither of those statements, from letters to trusted friends, reveals a man who thinks that the post war settlement was a terrible outcome for the Middle East.
‘Lawrence mounted a bitter campaign in the British press – which impressed the Colonial Secretary, Winston Churchill. Lawrence reluctantly joined a new think- tank whose brief was to carve out a just settlement for the Arabs.
In March 1921, Lawrence travelled to Cairo with Churchill, to create a new settlement. With the Arabs they created a new order. Feisal, recently banished from Syria, received the throne of Iraq and British troops were removed.
Feisal’s brother, Abdullah, received the throne of Transjordan. Lawrence was convinced this settlement gave the Arabs all Britain had ever promised.
Finally, his long war was over. ‘
The BBC’s ‘facts’ which are used to colour this narrative and support its line are also dubious….the programme tells us Lawrence treated officers with contempt, as buffoons….but far from it…he was on very good terms with many officers and maintained good relations with them and senior politicians, such as Churchill, after the war right through till his death.
The programme told us he loved dressing up as an Arab and that he was a showman seeking attention…he would have loved the ‘limelight‘….well his own writing says he only adopted Arab dress in order to fit in….and as for seeking attention he in fact went out of his way to avoid it….refusing to publish his books, refusing to allow a film of the books to be made, refusing to talk to the Press and having himself posted to India whilst in the RAF to avoid more exposure.
The BBC tells us Lawrence initiated a new way of war, that he was a pioneer of fighting behind enemy lines…..the BBC had the grace to mention the Boer Commandos but dismissed them for some reason as not being real guerrilla fighters….never mind Roger’s Rangers, or the native American Indians used by both sides in the American War of Independence as scouts and raiders.…or the Spanish Guerrillas in the Peninsular War (the origin of the word‘ Guerrilla‘)…or….well, you can go back through history to find that guerrilla warfare has been fought as long as there have been wars.
‘Guerrilla warfare can be traced back to Sun Tzu, in his The Art of War (6th century BCE). Some authors argue that his example directly inspired the development of modern guerrilla warfare.’
The programme also says the secret to fighting any war is ‘hearts and minds’…..really? A somewhat over rated belief.…one that is more a sound bite for politicians and media…..the reality is money (and success) talks.…
‘Lawrence wrote of his meeting with Allenby, “He was hardly prepared for anything so odd as myself – a little bare-footed silk-skirted man offering to hobble the enemy by his preaching if given stores and arms and a fund of two hundred thousand sovereigns to convince and control his converts.” ’
The Indians agreed to fight for Britain in the WWII because they were promised independence if they did…..not out of love or sentiment for the Raj….pure self-interest…and why not of course.
That’s all window dressing though…the main aim of the programme was to get onto the structure of the Middle East today…or more specifically the creation, and continued existence of Israel.
The BBC tells us that a map of the Middle East as Lawrence would like to have seen it had been discovered a couple of years ago…the BBC tells us that if only the map had been followed we would have no problems now (erm…no Israel).…unfortunately what the map reveals is that the Middle East is not too dissimilar to that intended.…it also reveals the intention to create several ‘States’ or nations…and not an over arching Arab ‘Empire’.
The map also shows that Lawrence intended these ‘sovereign’ states would still be under British ‘guidance’….and no doubt the map was not a final draft but merely a working suggestion, from the basis of which, the final borders could be eventually drawn.
We were told that ‘Palestine cannot be shared with others…it is for the Arabs.…they are a ‘nation’ ’…and the creation of Israel would have dire consequences.
Sykes -Picot and the Balfour Declaration both get the usual airing.….and the blame for all the ills of the region placed firmly in the Western court…in particular with Britain……but let’s look at the reality…the Middle East has been reasonably peaceful since its post WWI restructuring…..relative to say Africa or even Europe (WWII, Balkans, NI…and the Cold War, exported around the World). Many new states were created that still exist today and have run successfully, however you may define success, under one regime or another.
The BBC have chosen as one of their main contributors Rory Stewart….who is a well known anti-war advocate, and anti Liberal-Interventionist……he is hardly a voice of reason and impartiality when it comes to the Middle East and any agreements ‘imposed’ by Western powers…..He criticises the agreements but the Arabs got a lot of what they wanted….who gets everything?…in particular the creation of Saudi Arabia, the Arab Kingdom….and if not ‘imposed’ and enforced and protected by Western powers what would have happened? Complete chaos and war.
Much of Europe is the creation of redrawn maps after each war….so why does the BBC attack a similar process in the Middle East……or is it just one country in particular…Israel…that creates a ‘problem’?
What is it about Israel that is a problem? Israelis are ‘Semitic’ just as the Arabs are, and have roots in the region that go back thousands of years….Jordan was created out of at least half of ‘Palestine’.…and yet no one raises an objection or voices an opinion that Jordan should be part of a new ‘Palestinian’ state. So why is the creation of Israel such a problem?
It boils down to the Jewishness of the Israelis…..it’s pure, outright ‘racism’ or rather discrimination due to religion….had the Israelis been Muslim like their Jordanian neighbours or their parallel ‘Muslim Zionists’ in Pakistan then I doubt any objections would have been raised at all about the creation of ‘Israel’.
It is simply a hatred of Jews, the usual Muslim ‘apartheid’ attitude to non-Muslims, that is driving the conflict…and it is the BBC which is one of the supporters of this attitude, continually attacking the creation and continued existence of Israel in programmes like this, which does so much to legitimise violence against Israel itself and Jews around the world.
Just another BBC anti-Israel programme trying to slip in under the radar.