Wilfred Thesiger

July 19, 2010

A text message instructed me to report to a midtown Manhattan sports bar, where I would find the members of the expedition recharging before the next day’s exertions. I was meeting two of them for the first time, yet, even over the din, conversation was natural and easy. Dan, lean and earnest, spoke of his last assignment in the Army and added, with that distant, intense gaze I’ve now seen many times, that his old unit had recently deployed again.

The President's Delusions About Yemen. What The Man Probably Doesn't Know.
January 03, 2010

Yes, I suppose we are in no position to abandon Yemen, although, frankly, I hardly knew we were really there. Well, we are, as I pointed out in my Abdulmutallab posting on New Year's Day. But imagine how Senators Levin and Leahy would have reacted if poor George Bush had stumbled into the sands of "the empty quarter" without so much as advice, let alone consent. Maybe they were informed. But who knows whether, like the memory of Madame Speaker, theirs are also a bit confused. (By the way, among the first to describe one of the world's largest sand deserts was H. St.

Kerry in Kabul
October 22, 2009

I do not think that many of us know a lot about Afghanistan. And what most of us know is from one book. It is by a young British officer-scholastic, Rory Stewart, who seized people's attention with what some might call a travelogue. If The Places in Between is a travelogue, so is Democracy in America. Still, if Rory is of a type, he compares with Wilfred Thesiger, three generations earlier, also a Brit with aristocratic bearing and blood and the luck to be there in command when a significant military event was about to happen. Both had pens, very sharp pens.