Rory Stewart examines the legacy of Britain’s First World War campaign in the Middle East, and draws parallels with British and American interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan today. In the First World War, TE Lawrence helped to unite feuding Arab tribes into a formidable guerrilla army which helped to topple the Ottoman Empire. But today Lawrence has an extraordinary new relevance. His experiences of defeating a foreign military occupation, and of leading an insurgency, have led to him being held up as the man who cracked fighting in the Middle East. But for Rory, Lawrence’s story has a much darker message than is normally portrayed – Lawrence might have won his war in the desert and been hailed a warrior hero, but the politics that followed fatally undermined his success. Lawrence had aimed to build a new independent Arab nation, but Rory shows how Lawrence felt his dream ended in catastrophe and shame.
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