the Disillusioned kid: Messianic militarism?
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Saturday, March 04, 2006

Messianic militarism?

The shocked response to Blair's comment that he expects to be judged by God over Iraq seem somewhat bizarre to me. Was there really anybody who wasn't aware of Our Glorious Leader's religious convictions? In Who Runs This Place? Anthony Sampson argues that at university Blair was more interested in religion than politics and even considered going into the Church. He has maintained this faith - occasionally mixing it with New Age spiritualism, at least if Francis Wheen is to be believed - ever since. Is it really such a surprise that somebody with a background in such a belief system would turn to it when making moral decisions?

Don't get me wrong, I'm a sceptical about religious dogmas as the next guy, it's just that this doesn't tell me anything I didn't already know. I also happen think it doesn't has any bearing on the morality of the Iraq War. As a consequentialist I'm less interested in the reasons and justifications people give for their actions than in the likely consequences of those actions. That thousands would die, the threat of terrorism would increase and likely realities of occupation were obvious enough when Blair made the decision to invade (as various official reports attest). That remains the case whether he expects to be judged by God, Allah or the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

The real problem with Blair's comment is the way it will play in the Middle East. Alongside remarks alleged to have been made by President Bush to Palestinian negotiator Nabil Shaath during a meeting in 2003 that God told him to invade Iraq and Afghanistan, Blair's exposition on his motivations will give credence to those in the Middle East who talk of a new Crusade by the West against Islam. As dangerous as this perception is, it is worth noting that nobody in the Middle East would give a flying fuck about Tony Blair's religious convictions if Britain weren't currently occupying Afghanistan and Iraq, supporting Israeli actions in the Palestinians territories, allying itself with India regardless of its policy in Kashmir and standing by while Russia continues its war against the Chechens. I don't believe there is a "war against Islam," but given the foregoing assesment of British foreign policy, is it so ridiculous that Muslims might start to think so?

To be fair, Blair didn't say that he expected only to be judged by God:
In the end, there is a judgement that, I think if you have faith about these things, you realise that judgement is made by other people... and if you believe in God, it's made by God as well.
He also expects to be judged by "other people," exactly who he doesn't specify. One assumes, however, that he is referring quite generally: to Cherie, his sons, his coleagues and, of course, to the British public. So what are we waiting for? Let's get judging and then go on with getting rid of him. Clearly Tony expects nothing less.

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