It was Glubb's fate to be one of those desert-loving Englishmen, but unlike T.E. Law- rence whose reputation was made in Saudi Arabia, Glubb Pasha was not transformed into a legend. Still, he played an extraordinary role as the British commander of the only Arab army to gain combat experience in World War II. Later, his Arab Legion would play a role in the 1948 effort by Arab nations to abort the United Nations partition that led to the creation of the State of Israel.
During World War I, Jordan, alone among the Arab states, had supported the Allied cause and stuck by Britain. Following the war, the allies divided up the former Ottoman Empire. Because Britain had a stake in Jordan as well as Palestine, Glubb Pasha, a British serving officer, put his military expertise to work on behalf of King Abdullah of Jordan, the grandfather of the current king.
From the 1920s on, increasing numbers of European Jews had begun to migrate to Palestine, a British protectorate, to acquire land, and, inevitably, to clash with the indigenous Arab population that began to fear their growing numbers. Following the Holocaust and World War II, vast numbers of displaced Jews headed to Palestine to fulfill the Zionist dream of a Jewish state, an independent national homeland for the Jews. Glubb Pasha was a witness to all of this.
In 1948, during the first Arab-Israeli War, Glubb Pasha led the Arab Legion with much success in Jordan's occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem in battles against the Haganah and subsequently the Israeli Defense Force. He would remain in command until 1956.
Glubb Pasha was of a generation that regarded military life as a profession of great hon- or. By all reports, he was an intelligent man with a strong sense of morals, a reasonable man, and honest. He was one of the few seconded to the Middle East who acquired a fluency in Arabic, but his views of Arabs and Jews reflect both an affection for the for- mer and a distinct distaste for the latter. That he was anti-Semitic, is of little doubt.
Glubb regarded only the desert Bedouin tribesmen as worthy soldiers and saw in them the supreme virtues of an English gentleman.
Of the rest of the Arabs, Glubb wrote in 1945, "They are painfully conscious of their immaturity, their weakness, and their backwardness. They show all the instability and the emotionalism of the adolescent [characterized by] touchiness and…[a] readiness to take offence at any sign of condescension by their 'elders.' Slights give rise to outbursts of temper and violent defiance." Commenting on their inability to run the affairs of their nations, Glubb said, "Why they cannot run these things so efficiently is owing to their lower sense of duty and public service. They easily slip into nepotism, dishonesty, or favoritism. They nearly all realize this in their hearts, but they resent our saying so."
I was thinking of Glubb Pasha's insights, when viewing yet another outburst of Arab angst, whether it was some story out of Baghdad or the Gaza strip. Predating the establishment of Israel by several decades, there often seems to be no winners in the conflict between the Arabs and the Israelis. Despite their inbred hatred of Jews, the Arabs are right to remind us that it was highly civilized Europeans that perpetrated the mass murder of six million Jews during World War II. By the end of the war, there were literally hundreds of thousands of displaced Holocaust survivors. Few had any incentive to return to their homes.
Writing to British leaders at that time, Glubb Pasha may have been extraordinarily pre- scient: "In precisely the same manner today, Zionism in Palestine is forcing Arab unity and is creating Arab fanaticism…The Zionists may win their round and the next and the next. They may win for 88 years, as did the Crusaders. But there will be 88 years of war, hatred and malice, and misery. And, in the opinion of the present writer, the Arabs will, in the end, get the upper hand, even if it be in 200 years, and will push the Jews into the sea again."
Or, more likely, Glubb Pasha will prove to be very wrong indeed.
The Jews, for reasons of survival, were the first trickle of change. They did return to their ancient homeland. They did "occupy" Palestine, but history is replete with the stories of peoples who did the same. The early Muslims occupied all of northern Africa, occupied Europe up into Spain and the Balkans, and would have done the same with all of Europe, if they had not been repulsed. With the World Wars and the discovery of oil, the West saw fit to organize the tribes of the Middle East into nations. To keep the oil flowing, and with the end of the Cold War, the West was content to leave the various "kingdoms" alone for the most part, but the Islamic Revolution in the late 1970s changed everything.
What Glubb Pasha could not foresee was the way Arab fanaticism would force the hand of the most powerful nation on the face of the earth. He--and certainly not the Arabs-- could not foresee that America would swiftly invade and swiftly defeat the Islamists in Afghanistan and the Baathist Socialist dictatorship in Iraq.
Today's King Abdullah has proven to be a staunch supporter of President Bush's cam- paign to alter the future of the Middle East in order to introduce constitutional democra- cy, freedom, and human rights to an area of the world that has never known these fun- damental political concepts and institutions. We cannot see how radically all this will change the future of the entire Middle East, but Iran knows this is coming. Syria knows this is coming. Lebanon knows this is coming. Egypt knows this is coming. Yemen, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia know this is coming. Every Arab knows this is com- ing!
The immigration of the Jews, the creation of Israel, the discovery of vast reserves of oil, and the current conflicts are the tectonic plates of change that herald the full-scale invasion of the West and its values into the Arab world, innundating the "sacred sands" of the Middle East. Change is coming to the Arabs and they literally have no choice but to embrace it.
The Israeli-Arab Conflict
The Middle East & the Arabs
Radical Islam & Islamic Terrorism
More on Radical Islam & Islamic Terrorism
War & Peace in the Real World
Islamist Terrorist Attacks on the U.S.A.
Osama bin Laden & the Islamist Declaration of War
Against the U.S.A. & Western Civilization
Islamist International Terrorism &
U.S. Intelligence Agencies
U.S. National Security Strategy
Alan Caruba is a veteran business and science writer, a Public Relations Counselor, Communications Director of the American Policy Center, and Founder of the National Anxiety Center, a clearinghouse for information about media-driven scare campaigns. Caruba writes a weekly column, "Warning Signs," posted on the Internet website of the National Anxiety Center (www.anxietycenter.com). A compilation of his past columns, entitled Warning Signs, is published by Merril Press. In addition to Warning Signs, Caruba is the author of A Pocket Guide to Militant Islam and The United Nations vs. the United States, both of which are available from the National Anxiety Center, 9 Brookside Road, Maplewood, New Jersey, 07040.
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