Lesson’s Of Lawrence Post-Trump

It dawned on me recently that the very thing the participants who planned and executed 9/11, the purpose of it all, has been realized. I suppose, in a way, you can say that they won.

See, I believe it was always the weakening of America that was at the heart of their campaigns of violence, to realize autonomy from foreign entities once and for all; or something like that.

“In my case, the effort for these years to live in the dress of Arabs, and to imitate their mental foundation, quitted me of my English self, and let me look at the West and its conventions with new eyes: they destroyed it all for me. At the same time I could not sincerely take on the Arab skin: it was an affectation only. Easily was a man made an infidel, but hardly might he be converted to another faith.” 

― T. E. Lawrence

They are a people who have been described as passionate, with a warrior spirit, conservative in nature, honour led, generous, dignified, not unlike the Americans.

After hundreds of years defending their traditions and struggling to gain autonomy, at the heart of the birth of civilization where humans went from hunter-gatherer to pastoralist to the urban-centric world we have today, I guess you could say that they may just have good reason to be wary of Westerners as generally nothing good has come from foreign interference.

“We had been hopelessly labouring to plough waste lands; to make nationality grow in a place full of the certainty of God… Among the tribes our creed could be only like the desert grass – a beautiful swift seeming of spring; which, after a day’s heat, fell dusty.” 

― T.E. Lawrence, Seven Pillars of Wisdom: A Triumph

The Middle East is just as messed up now than it ever was, such as during the Crusades, and of course when the Ottoman Turkish Empire allied with Germany during World War One, and that slow dance towards chaos afterwards when it was carved up between Britain and France – see Sykes-Picot Agreement.

+ Iraq, Transjordan, and Palestine under British influence
+ Syria and Lebanon under French influence

BBC.com | Why border lines drawn with a ruler in WW1 still rock the Middle East
By Tarek Osman (@TarekmOsman)
14 December 2013

That land has somehow always lay near or around or been somehow at the heart of whatever world events were transpiring, with everyone all too willing to use the place towards their own ends, and to hell with the consequence.

This movement of minions loyal to Trump I think is one of those consequences, of the fear and constant threat that had been building ever since 9/11. For that decade after was full of hyperbole and exaggeration by Bush in order to get his way and get the U.S. back into Iraq, and then to justify that ill-conceived war. I believe Bush used terror to his own ends, ratcheting up the level of crisis and threat in order to instill fear and give him his mandate.

But, its not like Bush was the first, nor the last, nor the worst.

The party line is that America wanted the best for everyone, well, and itself, mostly itself, and to spread democracy and all those lofty ideals that go along with it.

Yet, there really is no one right way, nor is there one right way to govern, no one right belief, nor creed, nor particular values that rule the world, all is mere opinion, a point of view, one’s own version of the truth. Morals and values are nothing like the Law’s of Gravity, they are not constant, not etched in stone, not really.

And, maybe Bush Jr thought his father was weak for not taking out Saddam? Who knows, but at the time the consensus in Washington and allies was that taking him out without having a reliable replacement was too dangerous to the stability as a whole of the Middle East. Ahem.

Well, and so one can now possibly assert that Bush Sr was right and Georgie was wrong.

As you can imagine, the countries in question during Lawrence’s time in the opening decades of the 20th century were no more interested in European overlords then those same people are with Russian or American ones today.

“I had dropped one form and not taken on the other, and was become like Mohammed’s coffin in our legend, with a resultant feeling of intense loneliness in life, and a contempt, not for other men, but for all they do.” 

― T.E. Lawrence, Seven Pillars of Wisdom: A Triumph

Lawrence, was in the region of Turkey before World War One, living the early 20th-century gentlemen’s dream as an archaeologist and mapping the regions around Syria for the British government, acting later as a covert spy when the war broke out. Given his expertise and knowledge of the people he was drafted by his government, the Brits, to liaison with the Arabs to advance British interests, more or less. Also, Lawrence being Lawrence, he didn’t see it the same way as his handlers during the war, and eventually ended up fighting and strategizing for the Arab friends he had made, and not in the way those at the home office would have liked.

Lawrence saw the Arab desire for autonomy was a powerful one and foresaw the chaos that European overlords would have to the factions at play, the chaos their influence would have to the various racial divisions that made up the Middle East and had for centuries, if not millennia.

However, he was unsuccessful in convincing them at home of the folly in setting up straw men, of drawing lines on a map that had no meaning to those who lived within those imaginary borders. What was on offer was nothing more than the same situation they had under the Ottoman Turkish Empire, the Turks were a repressive regime that dominated over the Arabs, and they were well and goodly sick of all that by the time Lawrence and the war came along.

Heroes and villains alike are often born out of strife, out of fear, out of a gradual loathing born from divisions based solely on belief, tribe, or the power of a boundary over the people. Born as well from greed and financial instability, in the corrupted downward dives of capitalism, on the road to globalization and all those who fall through the cracks on the bumpy road to progress are looking for black and white, left and right, good and bad where none exist, cause its all gray.

All the same hatred that everyone for so long directed at the Arab, then the Muslim specifically, with one terror threat to the next, of a misguided war on that terror from the east, and other insecurities at play worldwide, it really shouldn’t come as a surprise that fears eventually bred dissent and it seeped into isolated rural white American midwest minds, from sea to shining sea, it made its way south and up north into lands of people forgotten, left behind as fear morphed into all manner of demon.

David Frum, a self-described Cabernet-sipping coastal elitist,  had an interesting article last week in The Atlantic concerning this gradual creeping fear, and how Trump is a direct result of a whole faction of society that believed he really was the savvy business tycoon that he played on TV, a kind of saviour I suppose in a red baseball cap.

Now think of the context of the times. The Apprentice debuted in January 2004, the same month that the chief U.S. weapons inspector in Iraq told Congress that he could find no evidence that Saddam Hussein still possessed weapons of mass destruction when the U.S. invaded in 2003. The spin-off Celebrity Apprentice premiered in January 2008, as the United States was entering its worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.  

Over those years, the American system stumbled from one failure to another. Because of the mistakes of the elite, thousands of Americans would lose their lives; millions of Americans would lose their homes and jobs. Yet almost none of those who made the mistakes were called to real account. Many made off from the wreckage with enormous fortunes.

The Atlantic | The Great Illusion of The Apprentice  |JAN 6, 2019

Here we are today watching as this now president of the United States is investigated by his own FBI for being a possible Russian asset, surrounding himself with 3rd rate loyalists, alienating ally after ally while furthering the interests of the despotic foe, and more and more, day after day, another question of how fit the man is for the highest office of his land, and you ask yourself how on earth did he get there?

How did that happen? How did the great and mighty America, the land of liberty and freedom, the heart of democracy as we know it today, how did this man get to where he is? Right there, at the top? The leader of the free world, or used to be. How has he gained this tight knot of followers, after all the corruption and lies and completely corrupt values, without a modicum of compassion or empathy for anyone, and someone who would actually appear to delight in the misery of others?

He has certainly become the perfect villain for the rest of us. Get rid of him, yes, of course, soon as can be, but don’t forget what and who put him there, to begin with.

I see some have forgotten their own creation story, they have forgotten the great American myths, the heroes have been overshadowed by villains made larger than life, and sucked the very heart out of who they are, what they are, well I guess it has been hidden, obscured, but not lost.

Broken, not dead, under the strain of this constant refrain of fear and loathing of everything and everyone who does not act like us, look like us becomes the boogeyman.

That boogeyman though is inside, not outside.

Although, certainly, it is easier when the boogeyman is outside, and could actually maybe be solved by just building one of those great walls, and then we may conquer the foe, or so some have been made to believe.

Yet, this foe has snuck into the hearts and minds of America, and as many warned back in those early years after 9/11, giving away your rights and freedoms in exchange for a sense of short-term security has consequences.

Let’s not mince words, and just say it, Russia is empire building or trying to if allowed, and Trump could very well, knowingly or otherwise, just be a pawn, no more no less.

However, once the big bad villain is gone, the fear of the other at the heart of the American mindset will still remain. The walls built within the borders, inside the hearts and minds will take some time to tear down.

People have fallen for the strawman, the pawn, Putin’s puppet.

Leadership in its purest form leads by example, not brute force. Successful leaders inspire loyalty, not have to demand it. Strong leaders lead by deeds, not bandaid solutions to complex issues to appease. Wise leaders listen to advisors, weak ones listen to only the roar of the crowd, saying what pleases with no concrete plans, merely evolving words spoken solely to get their own way.

“The people of England have been led in Mesopotamia into a trap from which it will be hard to escape with dignity and honour. They have been tricked into it by a steady withholding of information. The Baghdad communiques are belated, insincere, incomplete. Things have been far worse than we have been told, our administration more bloody and inefficient than the public knows. It is a disgrace to our imperial record, and may soon be too inflamed for any ordinary cure. We are to-day not far from a disaster.”

― T.E. Lawrence
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