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July 4, 2014

Drawing New Lines

Roy Meachum

A book was given to me by my second boy, Roy – written by a son of Jack Anderson. I met the father when Drew Pearson invited him aboard what was a Washington column turned into a television report. I knew Jack and Drew from the old days.


From the book that analyzed the role of European nations in the Middle East, I came up with these thoughts: “Lawrence in Arabia” by Scott Anderson. I’ve read more sources and then was the time I spent in Egypt.


Britain sought the oil in what we now call Iraq. The name also brought in Kurdistan, which included the public sources of petroleum. The French once ruled Syria and Lebanon. The British was satisfied by accepting Palestine, the guardian that protected India. Persia, as it was then called, with multi-thousands of barrels of oil left to Great Britain.


You’ll notice the absence of the United States. Those days this former colony was not interested in foreign territory – although the Philippines, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, the Panama Canal and various Pacific islands were the exceptions. We accepted these. No war was involved – except the big one with dying Spain. The Virgin Islands were bought from the Danes. No sweat.


But we kept out of the Middle East, which was ordered by the agreement signed by England’s Mark Dykes and France’s Francois Georges-Picot, a couple of mid-rank bureaucrats among their bureaucracy. That was strange.


London supported all the fighting. Paris was content to stay behind the curtains. But the French bellied up when it came to carving territory. That was unfair. La belle France was bleeding. In the war against the Ottoman Empire, most of the combatants were Arabs backed up British troops brought over the Suez Canal.


Scott Anderson, whom I met in father Jack’s home, doesn’t think much of T. E. Lawrence, unlike the movie. He writes mostly, while the cinema figure stays out of sight. I come in between. Being a natural fighter with bureaucracy; I don’t buy the arguments that men in the middle of an argument are faint hearted – confused at most.


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