What We Can Learn From Lawrence of Arabia by Bill Moyers and Michael Winship, Truth Out
… You may remember the scene when, after dynamiting the Hijaz railway and looting a Turkish supply train, Lawrence is asked by an American reporter, "What, in your opinion, do these people hope to gain from this war?"
"They hope to gain their freedom," Lawrence replies, and when the journalist scoffs, insists, "They're going to get it. I'm going to give it to them."
At war's end, Lawrence's vision of Arab independence was shattered when the Versailles peace conference confirmed the carving of Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Palestine into British and French spheres of influence; arbitrary boundaries drawn in the sand to satisfy the appetites of empire – Britain's Foreign Office even called the former Ottoman lands "The Great Loot."
The hopeful Lawrence drew his own "peace map" of the region, one that paid closer heed to tribal allegiances and rivalries. The map could have saved the world a lot of time, trouble and treasure, one historian said, providing the region "with a far better starting point than the crude imperial carve up." Lawrence wrote to a British major in Cairo: "I'm afraid you will be delayed a long time, cleaning up all the messes and oddments we have left behind us." …