Britain tried first

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Sun Jul 20 06:33:12 MDT 2003

NY Times, July 19, 2003
Britain Tried First. Iraq Was No Picnic Then.

The public, the distinguished military analyst wrote from Baghdad, had been 
led "into a trap from which it will be hard to escape with dignity and honor."

"They have been tricked into it by a steady withholding of information," he 
said. "The Baghdad communiqués are belated, insincere, incomplete. Things 
have been far worse than we have been told, our administration more bloody 
and inefficient than the public knows."

He added: "We are today not far from a disaster."

Sound familiar?

That was T. E. Lawrence — Lawrence of Arabia — writing in The Sunday Times 
of London on Aug. 22, 1920, about the British occupation of what was then 
called Mesopotamia. And he knew. For it was Lieutenant Colonel Lawrence and 
the intrepid British adventuress Gertrude Bell who, more than anyone else, 
were responsible for the creation of what was to become Iraq. A fine mess 
they made of it, too.

During the First World War, Lawrence had been present at the birth of 
modern Arab nationalism and fought alongside its guerrillas to victory 
against the Ottoman Empire, only to see the same guerrilla tactics turned 
against the British in a rebellion in Iraq.

It is perhaps instructive to look back on that earlier effort by the 
leading Western power to remake the Middle East as the American occupation 
of Iraq appears increasingly beset.


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