“Mess-o-potamia” Homage to Jon Stewart

People keep asking me how to "fix" the Iraq mess.  Hey!  I didn’t make it a mess.  Those that did should fix it.

Brings to mind the old saw about driving your car off a cliff.  "Once you’ve done it you might as well enjoy the view on the way down."

I opted out of the policy business after Vietnam and refused to take jobs in that field from then on.  Policy makers are in the business of trying to create some new reality that they fancy.  Intelligence people are in the business of describing reality as it is or as they think it will come to be.

It is very important to keep these two functions separate because if you don’t, then the policy guys start making decisions based on what it is they WANT TO SEE in support of their proposed new world.

Now, it is true that some intelligence people get "tapped" as individuals to do things for the government that are more in the nature of covert action, but that is not intelligence.  Intelligence is about information.

Since I am interested in information and teaching the teachable.  I offer the following two short pieces written by T.E. Lawrence, one on British occupied Mesopotamia and the other on the Revolt in the Desert.  There is also a picture of an art deco bronze plaque of him which my wife bought me in Buenos Aires of all places.

Pat Lang

Download a_report_on_mesopotamia_by_t.pdf

Download evolution_of_a_revolt.pdf 

Download Lawrenceinbronze.bmp 

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21 Responses to “Mess-o-potamia” Homage to Jon Stewart

  1. RJJ says:

    Thanks for the Lawrence. I read everything by and about him I could get my hands on, but thirty years ago. Much has happened since then, so recall little.
    Concluded that most of the biographic works were a waste of time — exercises in projection: thematic apperception tests. Liddell Hart was the only exception – IIRC he attended to the what, and ignored the who.
    I have been wanting to re-read 7PW since 91, but have not done. Lost my copy. Can’t find an affordable early edition thanks to those bloody collectors [putting on my Orrin Hatch face and looking skyward]. If you have any, insure them.
    Apologies for using too many words to express great appreciation.

  2. RJJ says:

    Funny you should post this. When I read the “Iraqi insurgents are a moving target”. I thought: LAWRENCE!! (or so it looks to the naive observer).

  3. J says:

    who was the artist that crafted the bronze plaque?

  4. Pat Lang says:

    Hey. I love the man. I first tried to read SPW when I was 18 and did not succeed. As an SF officer I read all the Chinese, VN and Cuban stuff.
    In later life I came to realize that Lawrence said it all better.
    I have owned various early trade editions and now have a copy of the 1922 version. I long for one of the privately printed copies at the beginning.

  5. Mr.Murder says:

    I’d suggest “Halliburton Family Letters”.
    Have to go to my Library Archives to read it. In front of a picture of the Rev. Blythe, CLinton’s ancestor and given Birth name…
    Richard looks nice standing on Bas reliefs in babylon, lions scupltures, flying King Faisal over the land in a RAF biplane between Wordl Wars…
    The same names run things today.
    Pat your special forces background probably is familiar with a gentleman I had the privilege to learn from. He taught a seperate fields but was a Col.(ret.) in the Army.
    He knew of an AWOL(“technically a deserter”) man whose father was using the same guard service a back door draft in desert storm one…
    Some of the information he’s shared I later confirmed online. Perhaps if you opened a spot for Hackworth, or open up a post on Ellsberg, we can bring what he said to light…

  6. RAM says:

    You’ve been around the whole Washington thing for quite a while now. Doesn’t ANYONE in a position of authority read any history any more? Heck, reading some Kipling poetry wouldn’t hurt. The depth and breadth of ignorance on continual display among elected and appointed officials is astonishing and dismaying.

  7. Pat Lang says:


  8. Pat Lang says:

    Actually, they read currect events journalist books.

  9. Curious says:

    According to this the 1922 edition was the furst published addition.
    However a 1926 subsribers abridgement seems to command the most money.
    Was something actually done with the 1920 version which according to the text above was poorly written?

  10. CK says:

    http://etext.library.adelaide.edu.au/l/lawrence/te/seven/ for a free version of what looks like the standard abridged text.
    http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/0954641809/ref=pd_sim_b_dp_4/026-1607781-9669253 for the 1922 text as published finally at a reasonable price in 2004.

  11. Mr.Murder says:

    Gunga din’s reference, and the Bush people each not being “a better man” was the most fitting comparison.

  12. kevin says:

    “My fighting gospel is T. E. Lawrence’s Seven Pillars
    of Wisdom. I am never without it.”
    -Vo Nguyen Giap

  13. PrahaPartizan says:

    Mr. Lang, I noticed that you had posted “The Last Valley” as a favorite book. I have been working my way slowly through it (although I have read Fall’s and Roy’s books previously) but was dumbstruck by some of the information in this most recent book on the siege of Dien Bien Phu. In particular, the information about the size and nature of the French forces committed to Indo-China seemed eerily reminiscent of the forces Rumsfeld has committed to Iraq – some 140K national troops and 30K forces in private armies. Further, if one looks at the areas involved, Iraq is just about the same size as Vietnam, although not Indo-China totally. Of course, the Viet Minh didn’t operate much in the Laotian and Cambodian areas of Indo-China either. Since the Red River Delta is a triangle about 150 miles deep and 75 miles wide at the base and the French had their butts handed to them even there, the parallels become overwhelming. Iraq may not be Vietnam, but it sure is starting to look like French Indo-China circa 1953. Does this US administration need a Dien Bien Phu and a “destruction of GM100” to convince it to leave too? I hope not.

  14. J says:

    the ‘Mess-O-potamia’ is becoming even more of a ‘mess’. Norway is now pulling their forces out of Iraq.

  15. Pat Lang says:

    Do you live there?
    I have always thouogh the French experience to be instructive.
    THe resemblances are clear.
    GM100 was destroyed near An Khe in SVN. I had a look at some of their vehicles long ago.
    I sure hope nothing like that happens but the small size of US forces in Iraq is worrisome. pl

  16. Pat Lang says:

    This site has a rather lengthy description of the publishing history of SPW. I bought a new 1922 text from them. It is a lot longer than the version we are accustomed to. pl

  17. RJJ says:

    ” I first tried to read SPW when I was 18 and did not succeed.”
    I tried to read Doughty when I was doing the Lawrence immersion. Same results. His idiosyncratic style made for a slog. Read at [n.b. AT] him more recently, and found him delightful. It occurred to me his “archaic English” might be the product of thinking in Arabic and writing in English. Arabic-ized (as opposed to Arab-icized)). It is a trivial question, but since I know no one who speaks Arabic to ask, waddaya think?

  18. Pat Lang says:

    I think that may be right, a kind of whimsical way to reproduce the sound and cadences of Arabic. pl

  19. Mr.Murder says:

    “Actually, they read currect events journalist books.”
    Posted by: Pat Lang | 15 September 2005
    Of course with journalist standards low as they are today what can one expect?
    The books Bush reads go great with Crayola(tm)!
    As for the “nam comparison, you are saying the compartive region of the Sunni triangle’s actionable tactical region is comparable?
    Oh, the supply for Viet Nam came right down the line. The largest piece of infrastructure that Hanoi used to resupply the DMZ with troops and weapons was left entirely untouched.
    Why so? WHy the answer’s quite easy- it would have ruined the body count!(/Rumsfeld)
    How can you win without massive body counts?
    DOn’t argue with me- look at it for yourself, pics of a Vet who has traveled back many times and visited both Saigon and Hanoi so he never loses that part of himself which that war trook away for many:
    scroll down to first comment:
    “He always told me of one bridge that could have been bombed to deny the North easy resupply of the DMZ.
    This is that bridge?
    See they didn’t care to stilfe NVA access to the area. It would have been to easy to isolate regions, secure them and mover forward.
    Instead make our troops overhwelming numbers and facilitate massive proliferation. The war then kicked overdrive when it was seen howe tough resistance would be.”

  20. Mr.Murder says:

    Thanks to a real life river rat’s journal and photos I could confirm this:

  21. Mr.Murder says:

    That was a post I wanted to make for the honor of Col. Hackworth(dec.) or a post for Mr.Ellsberg.
    Those men are true heros and the people that reinfocre the good things about Americans within the community of man.
    Many have come forward now, a lot of them risked everything they’ve ever been to try and stop this waste of blood and flesh and have seen their careers essentially ruined.
    It is an outrage that the smartest, most moral of ours get shown the door when they feel compelled to whistleblow.
    That is how you win, the only way you can, from the high ground. Because if you resort to being like them you’ve created a void in which the need proliferates.
    In fact, Col. Lang, the same can be said for you. Thankfully some smart businessmen can at least assemble the capacity of these people towards causes which reflect the common good.
    True dialog will help to create the heated truth, which when focused and maintained of pressure, will help pasteurize the process of Democracy. To sweeter blends, with more and varied ingredients and a fuller body to be shared at the table of man.

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