Sunday, 26 January 2014

Blair: the religious terrorist

Tony Blair, writing in the Observer, offers us his thoughts on war and and religion.  He writes "religious extremism has become the biggest source of conflict around the world".  Can he possibly be right?

Let's take the war he knows most about: Iraq v. US/UK.  As we know, this was a unilateral attack in 2003 by the US and the UK led by Bush and Blair.  This war caused between 600,000 and one million Iraqis to die (estimates vary wildly - the BBC's More or Less podcast explains why).  We also know (see, for example, The Downing Street memo) that both these men lied to their people about the presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq (their justification for the war).  No doubt then that this war was a horrible example of aggression and that the BB leadership has to take full blame.  Where though does religion enter into the equation?

Blair himself is Roman Catholic and has admitted to praying to God when deciding whether or not to send UK troops to Iraq.  Presumably God gave him the go-ahead.  Bush, a born-again Christian when he was 40, is one of the most overtly religious presidents the USA has ever had.  There are very many examples of him claiming divine guidance during his presidency and at least one plausible claim that he believed he was charged by God to invade Iraq.

So maybe Blair has a point.

It could be, of course, that he doesn't see it quite in the way that I have presented it.  In his article he goes on to say "acts of terrorism are perpetrated by people motivated by an abuse of religion. It is a perversion of faith".  Oh, that's all right then.  As long as you commit acts of war not acts of terrorism, as long as you don't "abuse" your religion and as long as your faith is not "perverted" everything is fine and dandy.  Can Blair really subscribe to that sophistry?  At this very moment his own church is suppressing women throughout the world by doctrines that deny them access to manage their reproductive systems and thereby keep them in poverty.

No, Tony.  The Campaign to arrest Blair has got it spot on.  You are personally responsible for your actions.  You should face justice and you should stop hiding behind the cloak of your God.  Your article is self-serving hyprocisy and quite likely an attempt to begin the damage control that the Chilton inquiry is going to inflict on you when its report is made public this year.

But on a positive note: you are right in accusing religion as a cause of many wars.  Where you got it wrong was assuming that religions you don't subscribe to, and wars you are opposed to are because the religions became "perverted" or were "abused".  Christianity, Islam and Judaism (to name but three) have all done more than their fair share to deal out death, torture and destruction.  Would you care to widen your target and argue for their wholesale culpability?  And if you did that would you like to go the extra mile and denounce and renounce faith altogether?

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