So now we know. God gave Tony Blair the strength to invade Iraq - but he didn't say it was right.
It feels as if he measures the rightness of his actions by the opposition they provoke
Alexander Chancellor The Guardian, Friday June 6 2008
The man who, as prime minister, was said by his spokesman never to "do God" turns out to have been "doing Him" all along, like those Roman Catholic cardinals in communist countries whose status used to be kept secret to save them from persecution. Tony Blair knew how distrustful the British are of religious enthusiasm and so kept quiet about his faith while in office. But now he is a free man, he has revealed to the world that it was indeed his religious conviction that enabled him to do his job as the head of government. He disclosed this in an interview last week with Time magazine marking the establishment of his Tony Blair Faith Foundation, through which he intends to spend the rest of his life trying to unite the world's religions as a force for social progress.
I wish him luck in this daunting venture, but the more interesting thing to me was what he said about the role of his own faith in his conduct as prime minister. "You don't put a hotline up to God and get the answers," he said. "What faith can do is not tell you what is right, but give you the strength to do it." Now, what is this supposed to mean? By his own admission, God did not tell him that getting rid of Saddam Hussein was worth the lives of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis; but he said that God nevertheless gave him the strength to do it in the face of its unpopularity.
God did so despite the fact that His vicar on Earth, and leader of the church that Blair recently joined, considered that invading Iraq was a bad thing to have done. So what made Blair so certain that he was doing right when even the Pope disagreed?
Blair seems to have fallen for some Lewis Carroll-type logical fallacy that runs something like this: I believe in God; people who believe in God are good; people who are good do not do wrong; therefore, what I do is good. Maybe Blair is not quite as mad as that, but sometimes it feels like it. It sometimes even feels as if he measures the rightness of his actions by the amount of opposition they provoke.
I always suspected Blair of unwholesome self-righteousness, and now he has come very close to confirming it. With the born-again George Bush suffering from the same problem, the poor Iraqis never had much of a chance.
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