Blair's non-Catholic approach in Iraq

  • December 30, 2009
The year comes to an end with what may well be one of the most significant political admissions in recent history. Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair stated that even if he had known Saddam Hussein possessed no weapons of mass destruction he would still have declared war on Iraq. In other words, the WMD casus belli is, as many of us assumed, utterly bogus. It also seems likely that Blair never believed that there were any such weapons and that intelligence experts had told him and U.S. President George W. Bush this for months before the invasion.

It’s particularly important in the case of Blair because, unlike Bush, he still enjoys enormous international prestige, has a thriving political career and is known to be a highly sophisticated man. He was also received into the Roman Catholic Church with little scrutiny or apparent formation by a notably liberal British hierarchy. He had led Britain through a period of infamously anti-family, anti-marriage and anti-Catholic legislation and has never shown any contrition for his failings.

He also led Britain into the Iraq war. No contrition for this either but a boast that he would have done so whatever the cause or lack of it because Saddam Hussein was a world danger. Saddam was doubtless a monster, but his regime was little different from many of those in the Middle East and Latin America that were and still are supported by the same people who declared war on Iraq.

There were all sorts of ways to bring him down, as there are to promote democracy and freedom in Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Syria. So it’s difficult to take the liberty argument seriously. We have to be careful here because all sorts of anti-Americans, Israel-bashers, Islamic militants and the like are using the war as an excuse to attack their foes. That shouldn’t matter. There is Catholic teaching and there is the contrary, and when it comes to Blair and the Iraq war Catholic teaching was ignored.

It’s not about pacifism, which is not only un-Christian but anti-Christian. In biblical terms we know that Christ Himself told His followers to carry a sword in case they were attacked by bandits and that He did not demand that a Roman combat soldier leave the army when he wanted to follow Jesus. Christ even took a heavy whip to men shaming the Jerusalem temple. His language is also frequently violent in nature, speaking of hell, eternal punishment and suffering for sinners.

Christ also, of course, told us to forgive almost everything and to turn the other cheek. But this is when we ourselves are attacked, not when other people might be. I may well refuse to respond to a blow from an attacker, but if I refused to respond to a blow from an attacker on a young woman, a child or any vulnerable person I would be acting not as a Christian but as a selfish prig. Nor is the Bible the only or even the final word. The church teaches that war should be avoided at almost all costs, unless it fulfills certain strict moral requirements.

In my experience hardened pacifists often worship peace rather than the Prince of Peace and see the absence of war rather than the salvation of humanity as their life’s aim. Frankly, they also seem to be far harder on the West, and in particular the United States, when it fights war than they are on various leftist regimes when they do so. Witness how little opposition there was to Soviet aggression.

Peace is an end, not a means. Sometimes it is necessary to break a few heads in order to shake other heads into making peace and stop killing each other. Hitler, Rwandan murder gangs, rapist thugs and the like cannot be stopped only by prayer circles. It was Ghandi who admitted that while his campaign worked against the British, it would have failed miserably against the Nazis.

So what of Blair and Iraq? Millions killed, wounded, traumatized and exiled. Christians more persecuted than ever before in that broken country, billions of dollars spent on arms. Not a Catholic approach and certainly not a Catholic conclusion. Happy New Year Mr. Blair.

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