“There exists a law, not written down anywhere, but inborn in our hearts; a law which comes to us not by training or custom or reading; a law which has come to us not from theory but from practice, not by instruction but by natural intuition. I refer to the law which lays it down that, if our lives are endangered by plots or violence or armed robbers or enemies, any and every method of protecting ourselves is morally right.”
– Marcus Tulius Cicero
Publisher’s Note: This may be one of the longer essays published here at ZG but I think the screed is worth your time. T.E. Lawrence deserves careful study. I hope I am wrong and the silver spaceships drop from the sky and every child gets a unicorn of their own but it is much better to look at the landscape around you and measure the possibilities. Ecology is the study of consequences in closed and open systems; the ecology of conflict is real and bears examination.
Take the time you have to prepare for the coming Endarkenement. -BB
“Men have looked upon the desert as barren land, the free holding of whoever chose; but in fact each hill and valley in it had a man who was its acknowledged owner and would quickly assert the right of his family or clan to it, against aggression.”
– T. E. Lawrence
Vietnamese General Giap (who vanquished both the French and the Americans) was asked who his greatest influence was in conducting guerrilla campaigns in Vietnam in an interview with (soon to be infamous) French General Salan in 1946: “My fighting gospel is TE Lawrence’s Seven Pillars of Wisdom. I am never without it.”
Nor am I and I keep a copy both at home and my office. My copy at home is my dog-eared and duct taped copy from my former days in the Army. I adore the book and have read it three times but it can be a hard slog for readers unfamiliar with the British idiom and not well acquainted with the history that led to the Arab Revolt.
For the best introduction I have found to the mess that is now the modern Middle East, read David Fromkin’s brilliant book: A Peace to End All Peace: The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East.
For those who won’t take the time to read it, the distillate of his teaching can be found in his 27 Articles. Some are totally irrelevant to any fight we may be concerned with in North America such as 10 but some, such as 12 and 22, are timeless and effective combat multipliers. Lawrence, of course, was Arab-centric in his nostrums but many of these can be universally applied with a little intellectual effort.
The election of Trump has really drawn the curtain back on the Deep State for all to hear. This will lead to the hardest times America has known since the War of Northern Aggression tore the continent asunder in the nineteenth century. Hard times will be a subtle way to describe it. The US government will react in the same barbaric fashion it does in every crisis: it will wage war abroad and on its own citizens and systematically strangle every notion of freedom and liberty remaining across the fruited plain. It will clothe all of these noxious behaviors in the most patriotic tones and cries of threats to national security will scare the woolen-clad subjects into paroxysms of bleating and begging for coddling and protection from their masters.
There will be conflict on American soil again and the guerrilla style of conflict will soon be the only means of opposition for the few who fight for the right to be left alone. However one anticipates your personal involvement in the emerging crisis, Lawrence provides the basic building blocks for seeing how that fight may be conducted.
I am a guest lecturer in Irregular Warfare and a number of readers have requested that I addressed this subject so I am finally getting around to it.
Lawrence: Nine-tenths of tactics are certain, and taught in books: but the irrational tenth is like the kingfisher flashing across the pool, and that is the test of generals.
The following notes have been expressed in commandment form for greater clarity and to save words. They are, however, only my personal conclusions, arrived at gradually while I worked in the Hejaz and now put on paper as stalking horses for beginners in the Arab armies. They are meant to apply only to Bedu; townspeople or Syrians require totally different treatment. They are of course not suitable to any other person’s need, or applicable unchanged in any particular situation. Handling Hejaz Arabs is an art, not a science, with exceptions and no obvious rules. At the same time we have a great chance there; the Sherif trusts us, and has given us the position (towards his Government) which the Germans wanted to win in Turkey. If we are tactful, we can at once retain his goodwill and carry out our job, but to succeed we have got to put into it all the interest and skill we possess.
- Go easy for the first few weeks. A bad start is difficult to atone for, and the Arabs form their judgments on externals that we ignore. When you have reached the inner circle in a tribe, you can do as you please with yourself and them.
- Learn all you can about your Ashraf and Bedu. Get to know their families, clans and tribes, friends and enemies, wells, hills and roads. Do all this by listening and by indirect inquiry. Do not ask questions. Get to speak their dialect of Arabic, not yours. Until you can understand their allusions, avoid getting deep into conversation or you will drop bricks. Be a little stiff at first.
- In matters of business deal only with the commander of the army, column, or party in which you serve. Never give orders to anyone at all, and reserve your directions or advice for the C.O., however great the temptation (for efficiency’s sake) of dealing with his underlings. Your place is advisory, and your advice is due to the commander alone. Let him see that this is your conception of your duty, and that his is to be the sole executive of your joint plans.
- Win and keep the confidence of your leader. Strengthen his prestige at your expense before others when you can. Never refuse or quash schemes he may put forward; but ensure that they are put forward in the first instance privately to you. Always approve them, and after praise modify them insensibly, causing the suggestions to come from him, until they are in accord with your own opinion. When you attain this point, hold him to it, keep a tight grip of his ideas, and push them forward as firmly as possibly, but secretly, so that to one but himself (and he not too clearly) is aware of your pressure.
- Remain in touch with your leader as constantly and unobtrusively as you can. Live with him, that at meal times and at audiences you may be naturally with him in his tent. Formal visits to give advice are not so good as the constant dropping of ideas in casual talk. When stranger sheikhs come in for the first time to swear allegiance and offer service, clear out of the tent. If their first impression is of foreigners in the confidence of the Sherif, it will do the Arab cause much harm.
- Be shy of too close relations with the subordinates of the expedition. Continual intercourse with them will make it impossible for you to avoid going behind or beyond the instructions that the Arab C.O. has given them on your advice, and in so disclosing the weakness of his position you altogether destroy your own.
- Treat the sub-chiefs of your force quite easily and lightly. In this way you hold yourself above their level. Treat the leader, if a Sherif, with respect. He will return your manner and you and he will then be alike, and above the rest. Precedence is a serious matter among the Arabs, and you must attain it.
- Your ideal position is when you are present and not noticed. Do not be too intimate, too prominent, or too earnest. Avoid being identified too long or too often with any tribal sheikh, even if C.O. of the expedition. To do your work you must be above jealousies, and you lose prestige if you are associated with a tribe or clan, and its inevitable feuds. Sherifs are above all blood-feuds and local rivalries, and form the only principle of unity among the Arabs. Let your name therefore be coupled always with a Sherif’s, and share his attitude towards the tribes. When the moment comes for action put yourself publicly under his orders. The Bedu will then follow suit.
- Magnify and develop the growing conception of the Sherifs as the natural aristocracy of the Arabs. Intertribal jealousies make it impossible for any sheikh to attain a commanding position, and the only hope of union in nomad Arabs is that the Ashraf be universally acknowledged as the ruling class. Sherifs are half-townsmen, half-nomad, in manner and life, and have the instinct of command. Mere merit and money would be insufficient to obtain such recognition; but the Arab reverence for pedigree and the Prophet gives hope for the ultimate success of the Ashraf.
- Call your Sherif ‘Sidi’ in public and in private. Call other people by their ordinary names, without title. In intimate conversation call a Sheikh ‘Abu Annad’, ‘Akhu Alia’ or some similar by-name.