Re: Lawrence of Arabia and the Sykes-Picot Agreement, revisited

From: Scott Chase (
Date: Fri 06 Dec 2002 - 03:16:51 GMT

  • Next message: Lawrence DeBivort: "RE: Lawrence of Arabia and the Sykes-Picot Agreement, revisited"

    >From: "Grant Callaghan" <>
    >Subject: Re: Lawrence of Arabia and the Sykes-Picot Agreement, revisited
    >Date: Wed, 04 Dec 2002 17:59:45 -0800
    >>Some time ago, Grant (I think) posted an informative post in which as an
    >>aside he suggested that Lawrence of Arabia had betrayed the Arabs by
    >>inducing them to revolt against the Ottomans for Arab independence,
    >>that the British and French had signed a secret agreement in which they
    >>carved up the area for their colonial aims. I posted a reply indicating
    >>Lawrence was innocent of this deception, as he had urged the revolt in
    >Sorry, Lawry, that wasn't mine.
    I was mine. Lawry's been having troubles confusing the two of us. Could we be Siamese twin seperated at birth? Doppelgangers? I could be your sinister shadow projected each time you post...

    The post Lawry must have in mind:

    was where I was ranting about contrarian Europe and the U.K. I made a couple MST3Kish movie references and then quite off the top of my head uttered the following:

    (bq)"If I were Irish reflecting on former English rule over my island (minus six counties) or an Arab who felt betrayed by T.E. Lawrence et al things might be different."(eq)

    Notice the "et al* after Lawrence. I was including Lawrence in a group of people responsible for British policy towards the Arabs (aiding "The Revolt" and also for the behind the scenes maneuvering with France for post war spoils). I also said the the Arab might have felt betrayed, which is not exactly the same as being betrayed (perception versus reality). Lawry helped add more depth with his followup:

    The issue of T.E. Lawrence's involvement in the Arab revolt and how Sykes-Picot fits in may be something to pursue. I'm no expert on Lawrence's bio. Robert Lacey in _The Kingdom: Arabia & the House of Saud_ (1981. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Publishers. New York) offers the following, which is more provocative than what I said:

    (bq) "...But the Sykes-Picot agreement clearly contradicted the spirit of the Arab Revolt- why else had it been kept a secret?- and T. E. Lawrence, at least, never made any attempt to deny the deception in which he knowingly participated:

    'I risked the fraud', he wrote, 'on my conviction that Arab help was necessary to our cheap and speedy victory in the East, and that better we win and break our word than lose.' Lawrence knew from the beginning that
    'the promises to the Arabs were dead paper:..."(eq)

    The part that ends '...than lose.' is attributed by Lacey to page 24 of
    _Seven Pillars_. The part that ends '...were dead paper' appears contiguous to the following excerpt from _Seven Pillars_ and is attributed to page 283 of _Seven Pillars_:

    (bq)"...Had I been an honourable adviser [he wrote] I would have sent my men home, and not let them risk their lives for such stuff. Yet the Arab inspiration was our main tool for winning the Eastern war. So I assured them that England kept her word in letter and spirit. In this comfort they performed their fine things: but, of course, instead of being proud of what we did together, I was continually and bitterly ashamed." (eq)

    Lacey's bibliography includes the 1935 edition of _Seven Pillars of Wisdom_

    This quote from Lacey's book is from pages 134-5 and is indexed under
    "Lawrence, T. E... attempt to justify betrayal of Arab cause, 134-6"
    >All I know about Lawrence of Arabia I saw on the big screen and I didn't
    >believe half of it. ;-)
    I have the movie on DVD and wonder how far it departs from actual history.

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