Thursday, March 09, 2006

Fighting the ghost of T.E. Lawrence

Nice bit of work by Mohamad Bazzi.
When insurgents in Iraq use IEDs to attack armored vehicles and disrupt U.S. supply lines, they are taking a page from the less-advanced tactics of T.E. Lawrence, the British adventurer who pioneered guerrilla warfare during the 1916-18 Arab revolt against Turkish rule. His main lesson for insurgents: If you're facing a bigger and better-armed adversary, don't engage him directly.
His work has a successful track record.
Lawrence's book has inspired many modern insurgent leaders. Vo Nguyen Giap, the Vietnamese general who fought the French colonization of Vietnam in the 1950s, once told a French adversary: "My fighting gospel is T.E. Lawrence's 'The Seven Pillars of Wisdom.' I am never without it."
..but lucky for us...
While Iraqi insurgents are applying the military tactics developed by Lawrence, they are ignoring his political lessons. They have disregarded the principles - of Lawrence and others - that guided most rebellions of the 20th century: Try to win broad public support; create a political wing; present an alternative system of governing, and build international legitimacy. This insurgency also has no charismatic leader, no clear chain of command and not even a cohesive ideology.

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