The Archbishop of Cant
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has managed to distinguish himself with yet another set of mind-blowingly silly remarks which effectively offer himself up to the enemies of civilisation as a one-man own-goal weapon of mass self-destruction. In an interview with the Muslim magazine Emel he once again cast America as the enemy and attacked the west while sanitising the Muslim world.
According to the Archbishop, the ‘crisis in Iraq’ has been caused by America's misguided sense of its mission in the world, that it had lost the moral high ground since the September 11 attacks and that it should provide aid to Iraq, stop exploiting its territory and demilitarise it.
We have only one global hegemonic power. It is not accumulating territory: it is trying to accumulate influence and control. That's not working. It is one thing to take over a territory and then pour energy and resources in to administering it and normalising it. Rightly or wrongly, that's what the British Empire did in India, for example. It is another thing to go in on the assumption that a quick burst of violent action will somehow clear the decks and that you can move on and other people will put it back together - Iraq, for example.
It is hard to envisage a more ignorant set of comments. For sure, many grievous mistakes were made after the fall of Saddam. But the comparison with the British Empire misses the point. America is not an imperialist nation — quite the opposite. It did not go into Iraq to accumulate territory or colonial power but because it believed that America and the free world were threatened by Saddam and by the terror-exporting states that surrounded it. Its whole democracy-promoting doctrine is based on the idea that this is the best way of defending the free world from further attack. Yes, America failed to think through the situation on the ground and made a series of grave strategic errors. But you would never think from Dr Williams’s remarks that the terrible war that has raged has been for the freedom of the Iraqi people and that significant progress is now being made — that the Iraqi people have voted in free elections, that Iraq’s tribal leaders have now turned their faces against al Qaeda, that the violence is decreasing, that thousands of Iraqis are returning to their homes in a free Iraq, and that the Iraqi people themselves are behind the transformation of their society — and that none of this would have happened without the American action in Iraq.
Although Dr Williams does not reportedly describe himself as a pacifist, he simply appears to be against all war: He described violence as a quick discharge of frustration adding:
It serves you. It does not serve the situation. Whenever people turn to violence what they do is temporarily release themselves from some sort of problem but they help no one else. A lot of pressure around the invasion of Iraq was 'we've got to do something, then we'll feel better'. That's very dangerous.
But war to defend free societies is not ‘a quick discharge of frustration’ and to describe it as such is offensive. You would also never think from his remarks that millions of Christians around the world are being persecuted and murdered by Muslims. He made not one mention of this, describing instead the political solutions offered by the Muslim world as not the most impressive.
Thus the Archbishop of Canterbury describes a jihadi campaign aimed at conquering the Christian world and subjugating it to Islam, which has caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocents around the world. Instead he said he was surprised that the small Christian community in Pakistan was seen as ‘deeply threatening by an overwhelming Muslim majority’, and he condemned the Israeli security wall that cuts Bethlehem in two.
Of course. Never mind the fact that the people who persecute Palestinian Christians are Muslims; the Archbishop’s Pavlovian reflex is always to blame the Israelis instead. And just in case we might have missed the fact that his main target was the civilisation he represents, he observed that there was something about Western modernity that really does eat away at the soul.
Well yes, there’s a lot that’s soulless about western modernity. One of the main concerns is the way in which the principal custodian of the British soul, the Church of England, has helped destroy it over the years by selling the pass over the defence of Christian values and going instead with the flow of the secularism that Dr Williams so reviles.
With defenders of western civilisation like this, who needs enemies?