One reason Iraq has fallen into chaos following the U.S. invasion is that it was never much of a unified state in the first place. In fact, it has only been a country since 1920. On Wednesday at 9:15 p.m., NHK-G helps explain how Iraq came to be through the story of Thomas Edward Lawrence, better known as Lawrence of Arabia.

“The Truth About the Tragic Hero, Lawrence of Arabia” covers familiar ground, but adds information that has only recently come to light. During World War I, Lawrence, already an Arab expert, helped incite an Arab rebellion against Turkey on behalf of the English government. His admiration for the purity of the Arab cause made him question the intentions of his superiors. His doubts were confirmed by the Paris Peace Conference of 1919, when the European powers reneged on their promise of Arab independence. Europe wanted control over the Middle Eastern oil reserves. The subsequent power struggle led to the Palestinian problem that now consumes much of the region.

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