From the Times today this comment on Iraq.
Christians in the Middle East are being put at unprecedented risk by the Government’s “shortsighted” and “ignorant” policy in Iraq, The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, says today.
In an extraordinary attack, Dr Williams accuses Tony Blair and the US of endangering the lives and futures of many thousands of Christians in the Middle East, who are regarded by their countrymen as supporters of the “crusading West
How strange! I have seen no news items about US or British troops hunting out Christians and shooting them. Oh, I see! It's the fanatical Muslims who are terrorizing the Christian Iraqis. But aren't they also terrorizing thousands of moderate Muslims too? People are suffering in Iraq because armed gangs are rampaging in the streets without the control of law. Indeed these armed gangs have been recruited into the law-enforcing agencies and are murdering their political enemies by masquerading as policemen.
What does the Archbishop of Canterbury suggest? That British and American troops should leave and allow the opposing militias to slug it out until the land is bare of infesting humans? I suppose he can claim Biblical precedence. Jesus taught his disciples to 'shake the dust off their feet' and leave any village that did not receive them. But there is another precedent. Abraham negotiated with God, not to destroy Sodom if there were to be found ten righteous men in that city. As we know only Lot could be found as an example of righteousness and it was easier to remove Lot than preserve Sodom. Are there not ten righteous men in Baghdad?
What Rowan Williams is offering is appeasement of a particularly craven sort. If I keep my head below the parapet and don't make a fuss, perhaps they will leave me and mine alone.
Let us be clear: the evil doers in Iraq are not Tony Blair and George Bush. However unwise the invasion of Iraq has turned out to be, however, maladroit has been the handling of the occupation, their instincts in removing Saddam were correct.
Saddam was an evil dictator with no concern for his own people or his neighbors. In the film "Lords of War" the Ian Holm character was accused of selling arms to both sides in the Iran/Iraq war. "Has it ever occurred to you that I wanted both sides to lose?" he replies. That was the attitude of a lot of people at the time, but undoubtedly Saddam's regime was utterly vile.
The invasion of Kuwait gave the rest of the world sufficient cause for restraining him, but fear of unleashing chaos in Iraq held Bush 41 back from removing him. Instead he was hemmed in by sanctions.
Sanctions seldom work. Those imposing them are accused of harming the poor and needy. Pictures of starving children and hospitals without medicines were used to justify the oil for food program, money from which was diverted from food to palaces. France, Russia and China all connived with Saddam to beat the sanctions. The UN, which employs some of the biggest crooks on the planet, turned a blind eye to corruption within and without.
The choices in 2003 were to give in to Saddam and allow him to resume his nuclear ambitions or to take him out by actually enforcing Resolution 1441. Some nations for very good pecuniary reasons wanted a UN fudge; other saw more clearly that the charade could not continue.
I see Bush 41’s error as similar to King Saul’s in 1 Samuel chapter 15. Saul failed to utterly destroy the Amalekites and George H Bush failed to utterly destroy Saddam. Bush 43 had an option in 2003. He might have crushed completely the Baathists and installed a puppet king; instead he trusted the Iraqis to sort out their own mess with a little aid and training. By committing too few troops he ended up with a worse mess than he started with. Nearly every savage Muslim in the world has descended on Baghdad looking for trouble, and worse, their partial success has been an efficient recruiting sergeant.
Parallels with Viet Nam are easily drawn. A military success is allowed to become a propaganda defeat. The fourth estate has become a fifth column. Potentially Bush had five years to win this war but he squandered the goodwill and by losing the mid-terms he has emasculated himself.
There was a time when Christians would stand up and oppose evil. Robert Raikes saw poor children unable to read and write and started Sunday Schools, the forerunners of public education. William Wilberforce saw the slave trade and campaigned for his whole life to abolish it. Lord Shaftsbury saw children in factories and fought to abolish the practice. William Booth saw drunkenness destroying families and founded the Salvation Army. John Howard and Elizabeth Fry and the prisons, Florence Nightingale and hospitals, Dr Barnardo and orphans; all Christians who saw evil and stood up against it. Rowan Williams sees the evil of murderous Muslims in Iraq and lies down before it. If we keep very quiet and very small they might pass us by and go and kill somebody else instead.