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Perspective: Bertram Wyatt-Brown on General Petraeus

Excerpt from “The Ironies of T.E. Lawrence’s Relevance and Reputation,” presented by Bertram Wyatt-Brown at the Historical Society’s conference, June 7, 2008.

“In contrast, only after five years of fighting a costly, devastating engagement have the U.S. armed services just begun to redraw counterinsurgency plans. According to the New York Times, the new doctrine at last incorporates the insights of such “classic texts” as T.E. Lawrence’s “Seven Pillars of Wisdom.” One military expert has written that he “should stand as a model for military officers as they prepare intellectually and emotionally to face the challenges of the twenty-first century.” General David L. Petraeus would concur, being an avid student of Lawrence’s “Seven Pillars of Wisdom.” Ambassador Ryan Crocker has been likewise astute, and one headline gave him this title: “Crocker: A Modern ‘Lawrence of Arabia.’” Moreover, Lawrence’s “Twenty-Seven Articles” for fighting insurgencies has become something of a bible for a few current American military experts dealing with the problems of Iraq. In fact, according to one source, Lawrence earned the compliment of being plagiarized without adequate attribution in the famous U.S. Army field manual for counter-insurgency.”

Read the entire paper here (PDF, 173Kb).