Sunday, 14 January 2007

We should have known

I've mentioned previously (I can't be bothered to track-back where as the actual post is immaterial here) how surprised I had been at the apparent lack of knowledge regarding the Arab mind shown in the pre-Iraq War planning. UK certainly had a vast reserve of men with tremendous knowledge and experience in the mores of the Muslim mind. I met many in Government service during my Middle Eastern adventures who were more Arab than the Arabs. There may be mention that such matters were considered but the current misunderstandings suggest otherwise. (To me)

One of the greatest Arabists we had was T.E. Lawrence. He demonstrated how it was possible to get fiercely independent tribes to work together with a common aim. The scene in the film of Lawrence of Arabia where the man at the well was shot because he was off his tribal area was not an invention to add drama. That is what tribalism was all about and still haunts what we are trying to do in Iraq. The tribe is their life blood. "How many relatives do you have in Baghdad?" "Oh, about a thousand" was an exchange recently recounted in a blog. Lawrence also experienced the way in which the lack of an after-hostilities plan demolished all the good he had done.

So, for all those of you who will be planning for Iran, here is a short treatise in his own words about how to get along with the men from the Middle East. Even if you are just an onlooker, his 27 Commandments might spark your interest in further study of very complex matters.

No comments:

Post a Comment