Tim Blair


New Criterion



Wednesday, April 28, 2004
THE ROGER SANDALL discussion of T. E. Lawrence referred to in an earlier post is now coming up, and what a counter-weight it is to the television version of Lawrence currently on Auntie's Sunday night line-up.

"there were many humiliating material limits" [to the Arab revolt against the Turkish empire, but] there were, he wrote, no "moral impossibilities". The word moral here means no more than psychological or immaterial (and certainly shows no concern for what today would be called war crimes) as is sufficiently clear from the next sentence: "As we had seldom to concern ourselves with what our men did, but always with what they thought, successful propaganda was more than half the battle.

What his men did was frequently horrible, but this was the least of Lawrence's concerns - indeed, he often described it with relish. And as a one-man propaganda bureau his self-advertisement was highly successful. The Turks were lucky they didn't have to cope with television, along with nightly bulletins put out by Feisal or Abu Tayi or Lawrence himself, helpfully broadcast by some early AI-Jazeera beamed into every household in Istanbul.

Lawrence of Arabia, founder of Arab Islamist terrorism.